Jazzlines has entered 2014 in good heart and looking forward to another year of top class jazz in Birmingham; in this post I would like to point to some of the exciting events coming up in the first half of the year.
By the time of publication, the Friday Jazzlines Free Gigs in Symphony Hall Café Bar will be well underway; this year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of these very popular sessions. The weekly performances present a good range of jazz from local to international and from the mainstream to some more adventurous bands.
One of the very positive aspects of the integration of Jazzlines into THSH is the opportunity to bring major international artists into these venues. Gregory Porter playing with his own New York band in March and The Spring Quartet coming in early April are two excellent examples. Gregory Porter first played in Birmingham three years ago at the Hare & Hounds pub, immediately capturing a Birmingham audience with his wonderful baritone voice and combination of jazz and soul in his songs.
The Spring Quartet brings back two favourites in saxophonist Joe Lovano, drummer Jack DeJohnette and two younger players, bass player Esperanza Spalding and pianist Leo Genovese. This is the first time that Esperanza has played Birmingham and we are delighted to bring her to the city as part of just a few dates in UK.
Our CBSO Centre concerts remain a key part of our programme and we have a nice mix of British, American and Norwegian events: beginning this month with the young British band Empirical performing their new project with the Benyounes String Quartet.
In February we have Tim Berne’s new band B, B & C with the drummer that many jazz drummers consider to be the most exciting in the world today, Jim Black, and also Nels Cline, the guitar player with the American band Wilco. In March the Norwegian Tord Gustavsen returns with his quartet; no band in the world is able to combine quietness and huge intensity in the way this quartet does.
Also in March we begin in the CBSO Centre the programme of showcases for our three Jazzlines Fellows: Lluis Mather, Dan Nicholls, Percy Pursglove and BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellow: Jonathan Silk. All four have been working for the last several months on their special projects under the guidance of Mary and I, and we are in for some wonderful surprises. More details in future blogs.
The UK jazz scene is notable for a number of great young bands that mix together jazz, elements of rock, electronic and just about everything in between: bands such as Troyka, Polar Bear, Get The Blessing, Sons of Kemet and the singer Eska appeal to a wide audience; we are delighted that all of these will be playing at the Hare & Hounds in the first half of 2014.
Finally a few other 2014 events round the city to look out for: The Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival always brings great weather and great music to Moseley Park and Pool: this year it takes place from 11 to 13 July 2014. Icebreaker: Kraftwerk Uncovered in Town Hall will be an amazing audiovisual event. The Frontiers Festival 2014 in March/April will bring a number of New York artists to Birmingham, notably guitarist Elliot Sharp who will be at the Conservatoire. Paul Rogers brings his Whahay band to Ort Cafe on 31 January: focusing on the music of Charles Mingus and featuring Paul on bass, Robin Fincker on sax and Fabien Duscombs on drums.
– Tony Dudley-Evans, Jazzlines Adviser