Jazz – old enough to look back as well as to the future

There are two excellent examples of modern jazz players taking a look over their shoulders in the West Midlands coming up. They both focus on classic jazz albums and are both on Friday night so you’ll have to choose, but it looks like you’ll be on to a winner either way.

toussaintIn Birmingham Jazzlines is presenting Jean Toussaint’s Roots & Herbs – The Blakey Project. Toussaint – born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, raised in New York, one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the 1980s and now resident in the UK – leads his quintet on tenor, with Byron Walden on trumpet, Andrew McCormack on piano, Daniel Casimir on double bass and Shane Forbes on drums.

They will be playing the music from Blakey’s Roots & Herbs album – recorded in 1961 with Wayne Shorter on tenor, Lee Morgan on trumpet, Bobby Timmons or Walter Davis Jr on piano, and Jymie Merritt on bass – as well as other Messenger material. And, of course, although they will follow the original tunes, these players will be bringing a lot of themselves to the music, especially in their improvisations.

  • This concert, the last Jazzlines ticketed gig of 2015, is at the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street, Birmingham, and starts at 8pm. More information and tickets available here.

wynnMeanwhile, over at The Bonded Warehouse in Stourbridge, Shropshire pianist and Birmingham Conservatoire graduate Jim Wynn is leading his Nonet in the charts they have made their own over the last few years: the music Miles Davis recorded between 1949 and 1950 and which came to be known as The Birth Of The Cool.

Miles had Lee Konitz on alto, Gerry Mulligan on baritone, John Lewis on piano and Max Roach on drums among others. Jim has Nick Dewhurst on trumpet, Elliot Drew on alto, Alicia Gardener-Trejo on bari and Euan Palmer on drums, along with Andy Derrick on trombone, Andy Johnson on tuba, John Fleming on tenor and Tom Bunting on bass.

I heard this band in the cramped confines of a coffee shop during July’s Legends Festival, courtesy of Birmingham Jazz, and they were marvellous. Sure, the more comprehensive charts of The Birth Of The Cool give less scope for personal interpretation when compared to the more open Blakey music, but these  fine players take their chances when they can – and take them boldly.

  • The Bonded Warehouse is in Canal Street, Stourbridge, DY8 4LU, and this gig starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 on the door.

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1 reply

  1. Anyone finding it difficult to choose between these two tempting gigs might like to know that Jean Toussaint will be bringing his Blakey Project back to the West Midlands in February, when a slightly different line-up will be playing the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton:

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