My top 10 Midland gigs – March 2016

Here are the 10 gigs I consider to be the most attractive/exciting/worth-a-listen this month (it’s a strong month so choosing just 10 has been tough):

4 March
Young Pilgrims/Fur/Cop Music
Pilgrimage/The Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham, 8.30pm, £8

The monthly stand-up, lie-down or dance session hosted by Richard Foote’s Young Pilgrims has moved to a new venue and this is the launch gig. YPs play an opening set, then it’s time for the two guests bands, this month FUR bring in a mix of jazz, psychedelia and hip-hop, and Cop Music is a seven-piece funk band with many familiar faces and a repertoire that celebrates the car chase and the stake out.

More here.

8 Tuesday
Deemer & Wright/Marshall/Sanders
Fizzle, The Lamp Tavern, Digbeth, Birmingham, 7.30pm, £5

Deemer is saxophonist Dee Byrne and drummer Merijn Royaards, while the second band comprises Joe Wright on saxophone, Hannah Marshall on cello and Mark Sanders on drums. What will it all sound like? That’s where the excitement of improv comes in. Nobody knows, not even the musicians, until it happens.

More here.

Tord Gustavsen, Simin Tander and Jarle Vespestad

Tord Gustavsen, Simin Tander and Jarle Vespestad

11 Friday
Tord Gustavsen: Hymns and Visions
Frontiers Festival & Jazzlines/CBSO Centre, Birmingham, 8pm, £15

The Norwegian pianist and master of the quiet storm brings a new band – Simin Tander on vocals, Jarle Vespestad on drums – and and an evening of new material – some in the Afghan-German singer’s ancestral tongue, Pashto – to Birmingham. Gustavsen’s always spiritual music gains even more depth. Read my review of the trio’s album What Was Said (ECM) here.

More here.

11 Friday
Leicester Jazz House, The Y, Leicester, 8pm, £12

This is trumpeter Laura Jurd’s Quartet under a new name – and with a musical stature that is expanding to gargantuan rather than any extinct connotations. Corrie Dick is on drums, Elliot Galvin is on piano and Conor Chaplin is on bass. Four of the most interesting young UK musicians all in one band.

More here.

12 Saturday
Hans Koller Quartet with BCMG
Frontiers Festival, Jazzlines & BCMG/CBSO Centre, 8pm, £15

The pianist and composer augments his jazz quartet with six contemporary classical players from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group for a new composition called Twelve Re-inventions For George Russell. Chromaticism meets grooviness. There is a 7pm pre-concert talk by Koller and alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher. There is a good column by Tony Dudley-Evans making connections between this concert and the Tord Gustavsen one – read it here.

More here.

15 Tuesday
Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur
The Spotted Dog, Digbeth, Birmingham, 9pm, £5 donation

See 11 Friday in Leicester.

More here.

18 Friday
Robert Mitchell’s Panacea
Birmingham Jazz/The Red Lion, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, 7.45pm, £12.50

On the surface it’s a piano trio with a singer, but Panacea sounds a lot different from what that summary might suggest. Mitchell’s strength as a composer and creator of original soundscapes, together with the individual talents of the pianist, bassist Tom Mason, drummer Laurie Lowe and vocalist Deborah Jordan, mean the results are ever-fresh.

More here.

Arun Ghosh (Photo © John Watson/

Arun Ghosh (Photo © John Watson/

18 Friday
Arun Ghosh Sextet – South Asian Suite
Derby Jazz/Derby Silk Mill Museum, Derby, 8pm, £15

For its thoroughly original amalgamation of strong traditions into a cohesive whole, and for its combination of thrilling excitement and ecstatic beauty, this Indo-Jazz fusion band is hard to beat. The clarinettist/composer Ghosh’s band includes Chris Williams on saxophone and Dave Walsh on drums.

More here.

23 Wednesday
Andy Sheppard – Shakespeare Songs
Jazz Steps/Djanogly Theatre, Nottingham, 8pm, £16.50

An Anglo-French project to give contemporary jazz portraits of character’s from Shakespeare’s plays and poems, with musical influences from William Byrd and Thomas Morley, and attention given to space and silence. With the saxophonist are Guillaume de Chassy on piano and Christophe Marguet on drums.

More here.

24 Thursday
Blue Notes Jam – Remembering Andy
Silvershine Jazz Club/Bearwood Corks Club, Bearwood, Birmingham, 9pm, £5

Every Silvershine Jazz Club Thursday remembers the man for whom the club is named: the late saxophonist and grandfather of jazz in Birmingham, Andy Hamilton. But his presence is especially felt when his band, the Blue Notes, hosts one of their regular jam sessions.

More here.

  • The monthly diary of Midland gigs which has been appearing on this site for the past year has been ditched in favour of a new collaborative bi-monthly listings pamphlet produced by a group of Birmingham promoters called Jazz In Birmingham. A PDF can be viewed here. For gigs elsewhere in the English Midlands – and indeed elsewhere in the UK, and the world even, go to the relevant promoters’ websites. You’ll find links to some of them under Organisations in the right-hand column of the front page of this site.

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