It’s all change at Jazz At The Spotted Dog. Richard Foote and Jonathan Silk took over from Mike Fletcher and Miriam Pau in 2013, and three years on the baton is being handed over once more, this time to Sean Gibbs and David Ferris. It’s a tribute to good contigency planning as well as the solidarity and comradeship within Birmingham’s young jazz community that this kind of thing happens. Regular readers of this blog and regular gig-goers in Birmingham and beyond will know trumpeter Sean Gibbs (Birmingham Jazz Orchestra, Fervour, Young Pilgrims, Clark Terry Tribute, Antelope, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra) and David Ferris (Three Step Manoeuvre, Ferris/Lee/Weir, East Of Eden, Tell Tale, Birmingham Jazz Orchestra). I met them over a tasty-looking toasted sandwich and ginger beer (Sean) and a pure-and-simple tea (David) to find out about the future of Jazz At The Spotted Dog. They spoke as one!
Q You will be taking over from Richard Foote and Jonathan Silk at Jazz At The Spotted Dog – what do you hope to bring to your roles as Spotted Dog Bros 2: The Remix? Will we notice a change?
A In terms of the music – no, there won’t be too much of a change! Silky and Foote have done an amazing job running the night, and obviously the most important thing is to put on a great gig each week. In the long term, we have a few ideas of how we might put our own stamp on things – how we could put the space in the Dog to the best use for a listening audience, and looking to hook up more closely with like-minded musicians and promoters in other cities. Crucially, we’d also like to continue the amazingly warm and inclusive atmosphere the night has, and reach out to the widest audience we possibly can.
Q It must be quite time-consuming organising a gig a week almost all year round. Are you both hugely organised? What do you think you’ll each have to give up in order to accommodate this new work?
A It definitely is time-consuming to make the gig happen but it’s completely worth it to give something back to the scene. We’d like to think of it as adding to our roles as musicians rather than something we’ll be giving things up for. Both sides of what we do inform each other – we can create an environment in which musicians can play at their very best, which benefits everyone involved in the jazz scene.
Q And do you work well together? Odd Couple or Marriage Made In Heaven?
A For the good of our working relationship we’re not going to answer that literally, but we’ve worked together extensively since we moved to Birmingham and definitely share a compatible mindset as to what we want the night to be. We’ve both worked together in Birmingham Jazz Orchestra, and played together in lots of different bands. And as our illustrious predecessors demonstrated, the whole is often greater than the sum of the parts! (No offence chaps.)
Q Can you give us any tempting tips for what might be coming up at The Spotted Dog in the near or distant future?
A Loads of great stuff! As the concluding part of the Live at the Spotted Dog album recording we’re very excited to be having the legendary Stan Sulzmann playing on 27 September. Also in September (the 20th) we have drummer Corrie Dick’s band, featuring Laura Jurd, Joe Wright and George Crowley amongst others. Further ahead we have a couple of great trumpet-led gigs – Andre Canniere is bringing a great band in November with big names including Ivo Neame, Brigitte Beraha and Andrew Bain; and in December we’re looking forward to having Neil Yates play.
Q What’s your recipe for a perfect Jazz At The Spotted Dog Tuesday? (You may enter the realm of the fantasy world or Jazz Utopia for the answer.)
A We want to put on music that is exciting and forward-looking to a wide-ranging and appreciative audience. As far as we’re concerned the night should be putting on the very best musicians and we don’t feel limited as to who we can book. But importantly, alongside more established names we’re also going to be showcasing all the great music that’s happening in Birmingham. And of course the legendary Spotted Dog hang – the jam session, the amazing staff and landlord John Tighe, and the really lovely sense of community that the place has. The incredibly reasonably priced and deliciously refreshing beverages don’t hurt either!
- Check out the Jazz At The Spotted Dog website HERE.
- Sean Gibbs’ website is HERE.
- David Ferris’ website is HERE.
- And don’t forget, it’s the Sunday Big Band Special this Sunday – more HERE.