Jazzlines project heads to the Windy City

On Wednesday 26 September, my quartet and I will be a part of a double bill with a trio featuring the key figure on the Chicago contemporary jazz scene, saxophonist Ken Vandermark, who will be playing with bass player Olie Brice and drummer Mark Sanders, at the Hare & Hounds in Birmingham.

The gig celebrates the strong link between Chicago and Birmingham that has been built up by Jazzlines. So far most of the movement has been from the Windy City to the UK’s second city with many of the leading figures from that city’s scene playing here in Birmingham. But as a result of an exploratory visit to Chicago in February this year by Tony Dudley-Evans and myself, this time the movement will be in the other direction.

In February 2013, my trio (myself on piano, Miles Levin, drums, and Chris Mapp, double bass) and the drummer, Mark Sanders, will visit Chicago. We will be performing in a UK/USA octet alongside four of Chicago’s key players on the contemporary jazz scene: Ken Vandermark (sax), Dave Rempis (sax), James Falzone (clarinet), and Josh Berman (cornet). I have already begun the process of writing new music, commissioned by “Jazzlines”:“Jazzlines”:http://www.marksanders.me.uk/, for both the full octet, and various combinations of the eight players.

The three venues we will be playing at are three of the most vital on the city’s avant scene. On the night of Wednesday 6 February, my trio will perform as part of a double-header event at the Hideout Club in Chicago’s Ukranian Village, in conjunction with the Ken Vandermark/Mark Sanders duo. The next night, all the UK and USA musicians involved will participate in an improv event at Elastic, a great performance and gallery space (not to mention with its own Chinese restaurant…), which will see the ensemble working together in various combinations for the first time – a great opportunity to get to know each other’s playing prior to the rehearsals for my new compositions. The following two days, 8-9 February, are reserved for full rehearsals, and hopefully some opportunity to see the sights of The Windy City and experience some other gigs in the evenings. Finally, the fantastically-named Hungry Brain venue will play host to the premiere of my new material on the last night of the visit.

It is planned for the project to develop further in the months following the visit, and for performances in the UK by a new ensemble of *Birmingham*-based musicians, as well as a visit by some of the Chicagoans in 2014 for a UK tour of the compositions.

Watch this space for all further details about this exciting project!

- Steve Tromans, composer and pianist

Birmingham Chicago: Two Great Jazz Cities is supported by a grant from the City of Birmingham’s Great International City Fund.

Image credit: Toomas Hinnosaar