Two fine groups compete for our attendance on Saturday.
In Birmingham the jazz trio Phronesis plays in Birmingham Town Hall while in Wolverhampton the jazz meats nu-soul outfit Slowly Rolling Camera is at the Arena Theatre.
Phronesis has the piano, double bass and drums format of the classic jazz trio but pushes at that envelope in every direction.
The band was formed and is led by the Danish double bass player Jasper Hoiby, with English pianist Ivo Neame and Swedish drummer Anton Eger; their latest album, Life To Everything, on the Edition label, has been attracting very enthusiastic reviews.
For their Town Hall concert they will be playing not up on the stage with the audience facing them, but down in the auditorium all facing each other and with the audience encircling them.
This format proved highly successful at last autumn’s Risk! festival for performances by The Necks and Arve Henriksen/Jan Bang, so it’s great to see Town Hall reviving it.
Phronesis play in Birmingham Town Hall at 8pm on Saturday. Tickets are £15 and there is more at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines For an interview with Jasper Hoiby see Page 6.
Slowly Rolling Camera is the latest project from pianist, composer and Edition Records label boss Dave Stapleton.
It is an octet with Stapleton’s keyboards, the vocals of Dionne Bennett and the drums of Elliot Bennett at its heart. Completing the line-up are Deri Roberts on electronics, Chris Montague on guitar, Ben Waghorn on saxophones, Neil Yates on trumpet and Aidan Thorne on double bass.
The music has strong grooves and and soulful vocals with cinematic scope in the arrangements to reflect that band name.
Slowly Rolling Camera are at the Arena Theatre at 8pm. Tickets are £12 and there is more at arenatheatre.info
Next week the composer Thelonious Monk is celebrated with an attempt to play all of his 70 compositions over four days. It’s part of the Frontiers Festival, it’s called Monkathon and is the brainchild of pianist and Birmingham Conservatoire teacher Hans Koller.
The marathon starts on Monday in the Symphony Hall cafe bar at 4.30pm with Hans’ band Chasing The Unicorn, moving later that evening to The Yardbird and the Beat City Big Band. Further stages include the Brilliant Corners band at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth on Tuesday, more at Birmingham Conservatoire Recital Hall and The Spotted Dog on Wednesday, the band Ugly Beauty at the Bramall Music Building on the University of Birmingham campus on Thursday and a grand finale that same evening at The Yardbird. There is also a symposium on Downtown New York Jazz at the Library of Birmingham on Thursday.
Details at frontiersmusic.org
Other good gigs this week:
Tonight (Thursday): The Zimbabwean-born singer/songwriter ESKA is at the Hare And Hounds with her band. Multi-layered vocals are key to her sound, and she has attracted comparison with Nina Simone. Tickets £10. 8.30pm. More at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines
Tomorrow (Friday): Alto saxophonist Rachael Cohen makes a very welcome return to the city of her jazz education for a Jazzlines Free performance by her quartet in the Symphony Hall cafe bar. Free entry. 5pm. More at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines