Intimate spaces rule in this Midlands jazz week

It’s a week of smaller gigs, illustrating the healthy and ever-growing spread of regular jazz nights in pubs and other spaces around the city.

Chris Young - at The Yardbird tonight

Chris Young – at The Yardbird tonight

Tonight, Sam Marchant has his Beat City hat on at The Yardbird in Paradise Place, with two young bands on the bill. First up at 8pm is the Gwilym Jones Quintet – Jones on drums, Alex Astbury on trumpet, Jake Steels on alto, Elliott Sansom on piano and Ben Muirhead on bass. Then at 9pm it’s the Chris Young Quintet – Chris on alto, Lottie Hodgson on vocals, Andrew Woodhead on piano, Stuart Barker on bass and Ric Yarborough on drums.

And after all that excitement, Gwilym Jones will be hosting the jam session till 2am. Now that’s what I call a real jazz club evening! I think entry is free but there’s probably some opportunity to throw money into a hat…

If you want to keep up with Sam’s promotions, it’s best to seek him out on Facebook.

Tonight it’s also the Silvershine Jazz Club at Bearwood Corks Club, where taking the stand will be the Henry Newman Band, featuring former Black Voices gospel singer Janice Williamson.

Entry is £4 and the doors open at 8.30pm, with the music starting at 9pm. Find out more at

Tomorrow, Birmingham Jazz has the Josh Kemp Jazz Prophets at its regular haunt, The Red Lion in Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter.

Josh is a warm-toned and melodic tenor player, a member of the E17 Jazz Collective from London, and a composer too, with a number of albums under his belt.

His latest is called Tone Poetry, is released this month on his own Fulltone Music label, and features this band: Tim Lapthorn on piano, Mick Hutton on bass and Matt Skelton on drums.

Fellow saxophonist Alan Barnes has called Kemp “a musician of great individuality”. It sounds like the Jazz Prophets will please mainstreamers and modern fans alike.

The music starts at 7.45pm sharp, entrance is £12 (£10 for members) and The Red Lion has good food and exceptionally fine beer. Find out more at

Before heading to The Red Lion tomorrow, have an early evening drink in the Symphony Hall cafe bar, and enjoy the music of the Tim Amman band, for free.

A stalwart of the Birmingham scene, and linchpin of both the Walsall Jazz Orchestra and The Blue Notes – he goes all the way back to the Cannonball jazz club in Adderley Street – pianist Tim swings hard and writes strong material.

With him for this Jazzlines session are fellow-WJOers, Sam Rogers on saxophone, Ray Butcher on trumpet, Adam Gilchrist on bass and Carl Hemmingsley on drums.

The music starts at 5pm.

Richard Foote - at the Ikon tomorrow evening

Richard Foote – at the Ikon tomorrow evening

Also tomorrow is the first evening of a new venture masterminded by the ever-creative David Austin Grey. It’s called Kontrast, and on one Friday a month from now until April, David will be presenting a fine jazz group at the Ikon Gallery in Brindley Place.

The first band up is bink!, a quartet of Richard Foote on trombone, Adam Jackson on alto saxophone, Rob Anstey on double bass and John Lowrie on drums.

There will be two sets of music, starting at 8.30pm, and tickets are £10 (£5 concessions).

This sounds like a classy enterprise in a classy venue. All power to it. Find out more a Kontrast: Live Jazz at Ikon on Facebook or at

Drummer John Hirst’s first jazz night venture ran into trouble when his chosen pub shut its doors shortly thereafter. So we wish him well with a more robust venue, the upstairs room of the Rose Villa Tavern, also in Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter.

The sessions will be on every other Sunday and this week John has programmed Blue Pearl: The Music of Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. John himself is on drums, with Chris Young on alto saxophone, David Ferris on piano and James Banner on bass.

Entry prices will vary depending on the status of the band, but this week it’s £5. The music starts at 9pm. Get more information via Facebook – just look for JazzatTheRoseVillaTavern.

Before that on Sunday, the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra is giving a lunchtime concert at the Westley Hotel, Acocks Green. BBC Big Band trombonist Gordon Campbell is the guest on the stand, it starts at 12.30pm, and entrance is £9.

Tuesdays are, of course, Spotted Dog days, and this week the Digbeth pub will be filled with Sardinian sunshine, courtesy of double bassist Sebastiano Dessanay.

With the Conservatoire post-grad will be Fulvio Sigurta on trumpet, Gareth Fowler on guitar and Tymek Jozwiak on drums.

Dessanay is one of the most accurate and melodic bassists I know, and his music is both original and accessible. It starts at 9pm, and generous donations to the passing tankard are encouraged. More on Facebook – look for Jazz @ The Spotted Dog.

Andrew Woodhead - with Ulv on Wednesday

Andrew Woodhead – with Ulv on Wednesday

Finally, there’s an exciting new Anglo-Scandinavian quartet at Birmingham Conservatoire’s Recital Hall on Wednesday. The Anglo angle comprises pianist Andrew Woodhead and double bassist Stuart Barker, will the Scandinavian side is Ole Mofjell from Norway on drums and Andrew Yeo from Sweden on guitar.

They met on a Trondheim jazz exchange, have down a mini-tour in those northern climes and are now doing the same here. The session is 1pm to 2pm and is a Conservatoire Radio Broadcast.

The band is also playing at Oliver’s in Greenwich on Tuesday, LS6 Cafe, Leeds, on Wednesday evening and back in Birmingham at The Yardbird on Thursday 30 January. More at

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