A busy Birmingham-centred jazz week begins this evening at what used to be called “cocktail hour” back in the day. No cocktails on hand in the foyer of the Bramall Building on the University of Birmingham campus, but a possibly intoxicating musical mix served up by trumpeter Reuben Fowler with five other London based players.
Reuben is an expert composer and arranger and released a very impressive album called Between Shadows. The band includes Gareth Lockrane on flute and Dave Hamblett on drums.
The Reuben Fowler Sextet plays in the Bramall Music Building foyer from 5pm. This is a Jazzlines gig and it’s free. More here.
From there head for The Yardbird near the new Birmingham Library, for bassist James Banner and his band Jamboree. Chris Young is on alto saxophone, Tom Dunnett on trombone, Dave Ferris on piano and James Anderson on drums. Jamboree recently recorded an album for potential release this month, so you never know, it might be ready and waiting for you at the gig.
Jamboree are at The Yardbird tonight from 9pm. This is a Beat City gig, support at 8pm is by altoist Dan Searjeant, who made a strong impression as part of last week’s Trondheim Jazz Exchange, and there is a jam session afterwards from 11pm. More details here.
Tomorrow the evening begins at 5pm when bass player Reed leads a band which blends jazz, soul and gospel. Reed himself is heavily influenced by Marcus Miller, so expect a funky session.
Reed Bass play in the Symphony Hall cafe bar for this free Jazzlines gig. More here.
From there, you have options. At the CBSO Centre you can hear an Anglo-Norwegian double bill in the form of sets by the Kit Downes Quintet and Motif, led by Ole Morten Vagan.
The Downes quintet comprises Kit on piano, Lucy Railton on cello, James Allsopp on saxophones and bass clarinet, Calum Gourlay on bass and James Maddren on drums. Motif has Eivind Lonning on trumpet, Atle Nymo on saxophones, Havard Wiik on piano and Hakon Mjaset Johansen on drums in addition to Vagan on bass.
The two bands will come together at the end for a few pieces arranged specially for this collaboration.
This Jazzlines concert starts at 8pm. Tickets are £15. More here.
The alternative Friday evening fare is provided by Blue Pearl, a quartet led by drummer John Hirst and inspired by the Bud Powell tune of that name which is itself based on a jazz standard. So, interpretations of interpretations are promised and the spirits of Powell and Charlie Parker should be circling the room.
John is joined by Chris Young on alto, Dave Ferris on piano and James Banner on bass. This is a Birmingham Jazz club night so members get in for free and the rest pay £5.
Blue Pearl are on from 7.45pm in the upstairs room of The Red Lion in Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter. More here.
John Hirst switches from bandleader on Friday to promoter on Sunday and welcomes the biggest band yet to his fortnightly Rose Villa Tavern session. Packing the playing end of the room will be the Walsall Jazz Orchestra, but there should still be room for the audience.
The gig starts at 8.30pm, tickets on the door and there are more details here.
We started the week with a trumpeter and we end with one: Steve Waterman leads a new band, The Orient Quartet, for Stratford Jazz on Wednesday. Steve Kershaw is on bass, Dan Messore on guitar and Gethin Jones on drums.
Stratford Jazz is at No1 Shakespeare Street, Stratford Upon Avon every other Wednesday. The gigs start at 8pm and £10 gets you in to see this fine band. More here.