Birmingham and Chicago – they’re our kind of towns.

The news from Tony Dudley-Evans at Jazzlines is that Birmingham musicians are heading out next month to forge stronger jazz ties with our twin city, Chicago. I think there is a plan for a return visit of Chicagoans to us, but first, here is the full story of the February adventure, courtesy of the Jazzlines publicity people and Tony:

Mark Sanders

Mark Sanders

“Four jazz musicians from Birmingham are spending a week in Chicago playing with leading musicians on the Chicago scene as part of an innovative exchange project between the twinned cities. They are drummer Mark Sanders and the Steve Tromans Trio led by pianist Steve Tromans (read thejazzbreakfast’s recent extensive interview with him here) and featuring Chris Mapp on bass and Miles Levin on drums. Together with their Chicago colleagues, the Birmingham musicians play three gigs at clubs in the Windy City: The Hideout on Wednesday 6 February, The Elastic Arts Center on Thursday 7 February and the Hungry Brain on Sunday 10 February.  The project is a collaboration between the Chicago Birmingham Contemporary Jazz and Town Hall & Symphony Hall’s Jazzlines programme.

“On the Wednesday (6 Feb) at the Hideout the Steve Tromans Trio will be playing with top Chicago saxophonist Ken Vandermark and Steve will be writing new material for this collaboration. Then in the second set Mark Sanders will play an improvised set with Ken Vandermark and Chicago vibes player Jason Adasiewicz. On the Thursday (7 Feb) at Elastic the four Birmingham players will join Chicagoans Dave Rempis, James Falzone and Josh Berman to play an improvised concert in various small and large configurations. This initial ‘get-to-know-you’ session will lead into two days of rehearsal of a special commission from Steve Tromans that will be premiered on the Sunday (10 Feb) at The Hungry Brain. This will be for an octet with four Chicagoans, Ken Vandermark, Dave Rempis, James Falzone and Dave Rempis and the four Birmingham players.

“The project comes out of a visit made to Chicago last February by Jazzlines’ Artistic Adviser Tony Dudley-Evans and Steve Tromans.

“Tony explains: ‘There have long been links between the jazz scenes in the two twin cities and Jazzlines has brought over to Birmingham a number of the many great players based in Chicago.  Jazzlines is delighted to be able to move in the other direction and take these four musicians from Birmingham to Chicago for this major project which reflects the strength of the jazz scene in Birmingham and of Jazzlines’ international profile.’

” It is expected that this collaboration will continue and strengthen in future years.

“The project is supported by Birmingham City Council’s Culture Commissioning Service to promote Great International City activity, and Arts Council England’s Artists’ International Development Fund. Jazzlines has collaborated with Umbrella Music Chicago in setting up the dates.”

Steve and Tony will be sharing a diary of the events as they unfold in Chicago. I’ll keep you posted. And, in the meantime, if you are in Chicago in early February? Well… you lucky people!

And don’t forget: there’s that comprehensive interview with Steve Tromans, here. It’s really good stuff.

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