Empirical leads a busy Midland jazz week



Jazzlines’ 2014 programme gets underway in earnest this week with four gigs over six days.

The big one is on Saturday evening at the CBSO Centre, when the jazz quartet Empirical is joined by the classical Benyounes String Quartet, to play music from Empirical’s 2013 album, Tabula Rasa.

Empirical – Nathaniel Facey on saxophone, Lewis Wright on vibraphone, Tom Farmer on double bass and Shaney Forbes on drums – is one of the most focused bands on the British scene, and has an elegant and artful way of combining influences from the post-bebop jazz tradition into highly original music.

The incorporation of the strings is fully integrated within the compositions and gives them even greater scope to explore mood and texture. This should be a fascinating and enriching concert.

Empirical are on from 8pm.

Tonight saxophonist Mike Fletcher assembles his Trio – Nick Jurd on double bass and Tymoteusz Jozwiak on drums (a late change for the originally advertised Jeff Williams) – in the foyer of the Bramall Music Building at the University of Birmingham. The music runs from 5pm and is likely to comprise Fletcher originals with the accent on good tunes. Mike has been designated one the European Concert Hall Organisation’s Rising Stars of 2014/15. This is a free gig.

Tomorrow the early evening free session is in Symphony Hall’s foyer cafe bar, also from 5pm, and on the stand will be drummer Jim Bashford. His Quartet is completed by Percy Pursglove on trumpet, Phil Robson on guitar and Mark Hodgson on double bass.

The strength and stature of those musicians is an indication that Bashford has moved into the upper echelon of British jazz, and his place among them is indeed well-deserved.

The Jazzlines Tuesday evening gig at The Jam House for January features the Birmingham Conservatoire-based collective known as the Jazz Composers Ensemble. As the name suggests, the accent is on writing new material and arranging it for this band.

The line-up is Sean Gibbs, David Tibbitts, Alex Astbury, and Johannes Gunkel on trumpets; David Sear, Pete Grimshaw, Hans Koller and Josh Tagg on trombones; Jake Steels, Tom Niblock, Claude Pietersen, Robbie Fearon and Mateusz Pisulak on saxophones; David Ferris on piano, Ben Lee on guitar, James Banner on bass and Billy Weir on drums.

Should be a real gas to hear such a large band in the Jam House, It starts at 8.30pm, and again, this one has free entry.

For more information for all these gigs go here

Also on Tuesday, this time down in Digbeth at The Spotted Dog, you can hear the Nick Jurd Quartet. Nick is one of the busiest double bass players in town and for this gig he brings together Sam Wooster on trumpet, Chris Young on alto saxophone and Jim Bashford on drums. It all gets going around 8.30pm and it’s worth giving generously when the beer tankard comes round. These are exceptionally fine players.

More information here

Finally, get that flamenco-jazz flame fanned at Stratford Jazz on Wednesday evening with the genre’s experts The TG Collective. Guitarists Sam Slater and Jamie Fekete, along with their expanded band, are at No1 Shakespeare Street from 8pm. Tickets are £10 on the door. More here

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