Pick of the Midland gigs – January 2016

Here’s a brief guide to the five events I’d suggest are most worth getting to this month. Of course there is a lot of good stuff out there that’s not on this brief list, and everyone’s taste is different. But these are my recommendations:

Pete Hurt

Pete Hurt

Wobbly Rail Five: tonight (Friday 8 January) at The Red Lion in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, courtesy of Birmingham Jazz. Led by alto/soprano saxophonist Chris Biscoe, WRF has something of an all-star line-up with Liam Noble on piano, Steve Watts on bass and Jon Scott on drums, plus one of the finest tenor saxophonists you may not have heard of: Pete Hurt. Biscoe, Noble and Hurt all contribute tunes and some reworked Monk can be expected. Should be a corker. It starts at 7.45pm and entry for non-BJ members is £12.50. More here.

Partikel’s String Theory: The edgy trio of saxophonist Duncan Eagles, double bassist Max Luthert and drummer Eric Ford added a string quartet for their most recent album String Theory, and in the process added a whole other world to their sound and expanded the scope of their emotional range considerably. The seven-piece (strings led by Benet McLean) will be re-creating the album and adding all that lovely live energy tomorrow evening (Saturday 9 January) at The Hive in Shrewsbury, courtesy of Shrewsbury Jazz Network. It starts at 8pm and entry for non-members is £14 (£7 for under 22s). More here.

Christine Tobin sings Cohen and King: Singer Christine Tobin flies back from her new home in New York to do two Midland gigs this month. At The Lichfield Garrick Theatre Studio on Wednesday 13 January she is doing her Leonard Cohen programme, A Thousand Kisses Deep (CD reviewed here), with fellow new New Yorker Phil Robson on guitar and Dave Whitford on double bass, but the date that is perhaps more special (only because it is less often heard in concert) is Tapestry Unravelled (CD reviewed here), her interpretation of Carole King’s Tapestry album, in duo with pianist Liam Noble. This is on Friday 22 January for Birmingham Jazz at The Red Lion. The Lichfield gig starts at 7.45pm and entry is £12. More here. The Jewellery Quarter one starts at 7.45pm and entry is £12.50. More here.

sean gibbs

Sean Gibbs

Sean Gibbs Quintet: When I spot trumpeter Sean Gibbs in a band, and it happens often – he’s on speed dial in many a Birmingham band leader’s mobile – my spirits lift; I know there will be some spot on ensemble playing and an expertly-turned, beautifully toned solo or two. His debut recording – a suite inspired by Robert Burns, called Burns and played by the Birmingham Jazz Orchestra – was excellent (review here), and his Clark Terry-dedicated performance at last year’s Legends Festival ticked all the boxes. His quintet plays original compositions and has the added bonus of pianist Dave Ferris, another young player who likewise lifts my spirits. The band is at The Spotted Dog on Tuesday 26 January. It starts at 9pm, a donation should be well over the £5 minimum. More here.

Malija: Pianist Liam Noble pays a third (!) visit to Birmingham this month, this time at the CBSO Centre on Friday 29 January in the company of tenor/soprano saxophonist Mark Lockheart and double bassist Jasper Høiby. The band’s debut album on Edition Records, The Day I Had Everything (reviewed here) is a heady mix of three adventurous and wide-ranging minds, containing overtones of bluegrass, barrel-house, tango and folk laid over a solid acoustic jazz foundation. It should be a real treat to hear these three superb musicians live and intimate. It starts at 8pm, tickets are £15. More about this Jazzlines gig as well as online booking is here.

  • For all the other fab things happening this month, please check the Diary here.


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