The highlights of March for Jazzlines were the two commissions set up to mark the visit of Steve Reich to Birmingham. The first gave Chris Mapp the opportunity to integrate some influences from both Radiohead and Steve Reich into his own developing ideas about electronica and jazz. He worked in a group he calls Buzzoig with Sam Wooster on trumpet, Tymek Jozwiak on drums and saxophonist Iain Ballamy whose own work with Thomas Stronen in their duo plus guests called Food has also had a major influence on Chris’ work. The music was a great mix of ambient music, free jazz and electronica and we look forward to its continuing development in the next year.
The second commission was for Mike Fletcher and an adapted version of his Jazz Orchestra. Mike drew on Reich’s acknowledged influence from John Coltrane in the early 1960s and especially the Africa Brass album in which the Coltrane Quartet played over repeated figures from a brass ensemble. As Mike commented, this was a very hard task, but he composed some wonderfully exciting music that we plan to record this spring.
We were sad to have to postpone the gig with WorldService Project and Chris Young Sextet, but we are planning to rebook both bands in the autumn.
In April, we have two big highlights. Jose James will be at the Hare & Hounds on Sunday 14 April with his American band and with the Sara Colman/Malcolm Edmonstone duo in support; Jose recently brought out an album on Blue Note Records called No Beginning No End, and this has been acclaimed as a very successful blending of hip hop and modern jazz. This event is selling quite fast and advance booking is recommended – info here. Jazzlines also presents the first visit to Birmingham by Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset on Wednesday 1 May at mac. Marius is just about the hottest property in European jazz today and his latest album on Edition Records entitled Birds is undoubtedly his finest album to date. Marius will be playing with Ivo Neame on piano, Petter Eldh on bass and Anton Eger on drums. Info here
Monday 1 April saw the first anniversary of the formation of Jazzlines and the integration of the jazz operation into Town Hall & Symphony Hall. This has been a resounding success enabling myself and Mary Wakelam Sloan to stabilise the jazz programme and to develop a new range of commissions, fellowships, residencies and education projects, consolidating Birmingham’s position as a major jazz centre. The support from the different departments of THSH has been tremendous and we believe that the integration – a way that enables us to keep our identity but work closely with the Programming, Education and Community, Development, Marketing and Communications teams as part of Town Hall & Symphony Hall – is a model other jazz organisations should follow.
– Tony Dudley-Evans, Jazzlines Adviser