Issued: 4 February 2009

£16.50 / £18.50

Event info


Event info

Two of the UK?s top jazz-fusion collectives will be performing at Town Hall Birmingham this spring, pushing musical boundaries with splashes of reggae, funk and plenty of other global sounds into the pot, plus a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Motown.

Leading UK jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine and the newly minted Jazz Warriors collective join for the high-powered and intense Afropeans live show at Town Hall Birmingham on 26 March 2009.

With a restyled line-up that includes Shabaka Hutchins (reeds), Omar Puente (violin), Alex Wilson (piano) and Jason Yarde (musical director) amongst others, the cross generation Jazz Warriors return with the same energetic spirit that defined their 1986 debut, Out of One Many People Come.

Reinventing the relationships between funk, reggae and jazz with the 2008 live album Afropeans, the extraordinary ensemble push musical originality to new levels, yet embracing the work and styles of luminaries such as Charles Mingus, David Murray and John Coltrane.

A collection of diverse influences including Latin piano work, West African percussion and classic Caribbean steel pan melodies, the Afropeans project is more than just an assembly of sounds and an arrangement of thoughts.

Recorded in one straight session with no retakes or overdubs and performed to mark the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slavery Act, the raw, exciting sound is a huge celebration of Black British musicianship today, defined by the following description by Courtney Pine:

Afropeans: to be part of African descent and to exist in Europe, culturally, spiritually or in this case, musically.

The Jazz Warriors make a bold statement with an uplifting and accessible attitude that embraces the rich heritage of African-Caribbean music – this is a rare opportunity to see the cream of UK jazz talent in an intimate setting.

Afropeans line-up:
Courtney Pine, Chris Storr, Colin Graham, Mark Crown, Trevor Edwards, Jason Yarde, Shabaka Hutchings, Omar Puente, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Alex Wilson, Samuel Dubois, Darren Taylor, Robert Fordjour, Donald Gamble.—-jazz-warriors-afropeans


2009 sees the 50th anniversary of legendary US record label Motown. To celebrate, Town Hall Birmingham presents Motorcity Roots with Jazz Jamaica – a very special evening of classic Detroit soul with an upbeat Caribbean twist on 17 April.

Jazz Jamaica, ska group extraordinaire, is made up of leading figures from the UK jazz, reggae and funk scenes, and plays feel good music with serious bass rhythms, a bold brass section, and irresistable mento and rocksteady melodies alongside stunning jazz solos.

Led by original Jazz Warrior member and bassist Gary Crosby, the world-class line-up includes New Orleans trumpeter Abram Wilson, MOBO award winning saxophonist Denys Baptiste and top UK Latin pianist and Jazz Warrior member Alex Wilson.

Formed in 1991, the raucously vivacious dance band went on to win the Best Band category in the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards, Ensemble of the Year in the 2006 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and secure their place as leading skazz (ska and jazz fusion) artists with fourth album Motorcity Roots (Dune 2006).

With an overwhelming feel good reggae flavour to soul and RnB hits such as Tears of a Clown, You Keep Me Hangin? On, Dancing in the Streets, Easy, and What?s Goin’ On, the evening concert at Town Hall Birmingham will be a fantastic celebration of the unique Motown sound.

Founded in 1957 by Berry Gordy, the Motown record label shot to international fame with artists such as Smokey Robinson, Stevie wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and The Temptations playing important parts in its success.

Jazz Jamaica Motorcity Roots line-up: Gary Crosby, Abram Wilson, Denys Baptiste, Alex Wilson, Harry Brown, and Rod Youngs, with Zara McFarlane, Baby Sol and J?Nay on vocals.

The exhibition The Story of the Supremes runs from 21 Feb to 7 June at Birmingham?s Waterhall


Notes to Editors—-jazz-warriors-afropeans

Press quotes: Afropeans
?…barnstorming solos, delicate bowed strings, skanking reggae backing tailgate trombones, foot-stamping chains…? (The Times)
?It’s a kick-ass line-up…welcome and engaging? (All About Jazz)
?The direction of the music flows in a cinematic way? (Jazzwise)

Press quotes: Jazz Jamaica
?Breathtaking stuff. Britain has its own rival to the Buena Vista Social Club. See them now before the rest of the world grabs them.? (The Guardian)
?In a head-to-head battle of the bands, Jazz Jamaica would see off Jools Holland?s more famous Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.? (The Times)
?A triumphant tribute to bassist Gary Crosby?s efforts.? (Jazz UK)

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery
Running from 21 February to 7 June 2009, the Story of The Supremes features over 50 performance costumes alongside shoes, wigs and jewellery that chart the changing image of the group from their early days when they were known as The Primettes to the glamorous Hollywood designs they wore at the height of their fame.
The exhibition also features the group?s music, album covers and archive performance footage, new video interviews with Wilson and Maxine Powell, Motown?s in-house Artist Development Director and a range of memorabilia including tour programs, magazines and photographs.
The Supremes recorded 12 US No.1 hits between 1964 and 1969, including an unprecedented five consecutive chart toppers. Set against the backdrop of the meteoric rise of Motown Records and the turbulence of the American civil rights movement, the exhibition explores both the inspirational role that The Supremes played in changing racial perceptions and their influence on today?s performers.
The Story of The Supremes from the Mary Wilson Collection is a V&A exhibition in collaboration with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Future jazz events at Town Hall & Symphony Hall:

BBC Big Band – Radio Days with Clare Teal
Friday 20 February, 7.30pm
Town Hall Birmingham £12.50 / £16.50 / £19.50—-radio-days-with-clare-teal

Two Trad-Jazz Legends Together – Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band, The Chris Barber Big Band
Thursday 26 March, 7.30pm
Symphony Hall Birmingham £19.50 / £21.50 / £23.50

BBC Big Band – Frank and Ella: A Tribute
Friday 3 April, 7.30pm
Town Hall Birmingham £12.50 / £16.50 / £19.50—frank—-ella—-a-tribute

Jazz Camera: An exhibition of photographs by John Watson
Tuesday 3 March – Tuesday 31 March
Level 4 & 5 Foyers, Symphony Hall Free Admission

Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a registered charity. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and a thriving education/community department reaches a further 20,000 people of all ages.
Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).