|The promotional image for Wolves Are People Too,
featuring David Austin Grey’s band Hansu Tori.
Editor-at-Large Peter Bacon picks ten events over the next four weeks that are well worth a visit up his way – including three from the Birmingham-wide Centenary Monkathon.
Thursday 8 June – Mike Fletcher’s Picasso, 8.15pm at mac, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, presented by TDE Promotions/Fizzle. Taking Pablo Picasso’s variations on Velasquez’s Las Meninas as his inspiration, Fletcher presents his own solo saxophone interpretation of Coleman Hawkins’ Picasso. Arrive early for a pre-concert Q&A between Mike and co-promoter Tony Dudley-Evans. More here.
Friday 9 June – New Simplicity Trio, 7.45pm at The Red Lion, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, presented by Birmingham Jazz. Antonio Fusco (drums), Bruno Heinen (piano) and Henrik Jensen (bass) favour melody and groove in their mostly self-composed music from new CD Common Spaces. More here.
Saturday 10 June – Wolves Are People Too, 8pm at Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton, presented by Jazz at the Arena. The pianist and composer David Austin Grey leads his band Hansu Tori in a revival of his highly successful 2016 multi-disciplinary performance piece which combines jazz with ballet from choreographer Kit Holder and illustration from Nicholas Robertson. More here.
Thursday 15 June – Thelonious with Steve Cardenas, 8pm at CBSO Centre, Birmingham, presented by Jazzlines. Possibly the highlight concert of Monkathon, which this year celebrates Monk at 100. Martin Speake (saxophone), Hans Koller (euphonium, piano), Calum Gourlay (bass) and James Maddren (drums) are joined by New York guitarist and Monk expert Cardenas. More here.
Friday 16 June – Jump Monk, 7.45pm at The Red Lion, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, presented by Birmingham Jazz. Another top-notch Monkathon gig, this time bassist Arnie Somogyi’s band with Andy Panayi (saxophone), Jeremy Price (trombone), Mark Edwards (piano) and Andrew Bain (drums), in the intimate and friendly Birmingham Jazz venue. A student support band and good beer, too! More here.
Sunday 18 June – Trish Clowes with Birmingham Jazz Orchestra, 2pm at The Spotted Dog, Digbeth, presented by Jazz at The Spotted Dog. The third notable gig of Monkathon, this summer Sunday special features the saxophonist and composer’s compositions along with some Monk arrangments, all played by the young band that represents the Second City’s youthful finest. Hans Koller and François Théberge are special guests. More here.
Wednesday 21 June – A Tribute to Kenny Dorham, 8pm at George IV, Lichfield, presented by Jazz at George IV. Trumpeter/composer Nick Dewhurst and his band prepared some Doreham tunes for Birmingham Jazz’s Legends Jazz Festival last month, and they give them a welcome second outing in the pub backroom where Nick promotes monthly sessions. More here.
Thursday 22 June – Let It Be Told: Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra with Julian Argüelles, 7.30pm at the CBSO Centre, Birmingham, presented by Birmingham Conservatoire. The saxophonist’s brilliantly conceived arrangements of some South African jazz gems made for an award-winning album and live performances with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band. Now is the chance to see how the students shine. More here.
Wednesday 28 June – Jay Phelps, 8pm at Riverside Conference and Event Centre, Stratford upon Avon, presented by Stratford Jazz. The Canadian-born trumpeter and original Empirical co-leader has some new music to play with Rick Simpson (piano), Mark Lewandowski (bass) and Shane Forbes (drums). A new CD is in the pipeline. More here.
Friday 30 June – Tom Syson Sextet, 5pm at Symphony Hall Cafe Bar, Birmingham, presented by Jazzlines. More trumpet-led music, this time from the young Birmingham Conservatoire graduate. His debut album is called Green (LJN review here), is produced by Percy Pursglove, and features more of the BC graduate set, including Jonathan Silk (drums), Ben Lee (guitar) and David Ferris (piano). This free gig is part of a national tour. More here.