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Jazz Diary with Peter Bacon

Peter Bacon rounds-up the coming week of jazz events in the West Midlands.

Two saxophone-led ensembles vie for our attention on Saturday. Over at The Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton is Gilad Atzmon leading his Orient House Ensemble, while at Birmingham’s mac Sid Peacock is conducting his Surge Saxophones.

Israeli-born Gilad is celebrating his 50th birthday this year – and his 20th year in Britain – with a tour of music from his band’s most recent album, Songs From The Metropolis.

Individual pieces conjure up individual cities: Paris is deeply romantic and moves from delicate retro-clarinet to impassioned soprano saxophone via accordion, while Tel Aviv moves at a swift pace and into a very dark mood. Among the other metropoli, Gilad identifies Buenos Aires with pathos, Vienna with charm and sweetness, and plays Manhattan “in loving memory of America”.

Frank Harrison is on piano and other keyboards, Yaron Stavi on double bass and Eddie Hick on drums. Altogether they make a wonderfully adept and adaptable group.

The concert starts at 8pm and tickets are £12 from the theatre’s website or on 01902 321 321.

Composer Sid Peacock has just begun a stint as associate artist at the mac and brings the saxophone section from his Surge jazz orchestra into the mac’s theatre on Saturday as his first public contribution to this association.

The reedsmen are Lluis Mather, Huw Morgan, Chris Morgan and Nick Rundle. Drummer John Randall will be on hand to provide them with a beat.

The band will be playing music specially composed for them by Peacock and, like Gilad’s, it is also often inspired by place. Instead of just cities, expect a journey that takes in the composer’s grandmother’s house, the Irish Sea, and a farm in Cornwall. A broken bike in Paris does also feature.

The performance will be accompanied by video and images showing the inspiration behind the music.

Surge Saxophones play at 8pm and tickets are £10 (£8 concessions). You can find out more and book at www.macarts.co.uk

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The Spotted Dog in Digbeth welcomes Joe Wright’s Nightjar on Tuesday.

Joe is a Scottish saxophonist now resident in London and Nightjar has Alice Zawadzki on vocals, Jeff Spencer on bass guitar and James Maddren on drums.

The music starts at 9pm, and the suggested donation is £5.

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Early notice, too, of what has become a Christmas tradition at The Spotted Dog. On December 17, the Jonathan Silk Christmas Big Band will squeeze their combined bulk into the pub – an event not to be missed, with some seasonal songs promised.

Both these are Blam! events so there is more at www.blambirmingham.co.uk or on the Jazz At The Spotted Dog page on Facebook.

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Finally, on Wednesday Stratford Jazz closes its 2013 programme in fine form with the Ed Jones Quartet – Ed on saxophone, Ross Stanley on piano, Riaan Vosloo on bass and Tim Giles on drums.

This all happens at No.1 Shakespeare Street, Stratford-upon-Avon at 8pm. Tickets at £10 (students half price) and more information at www.stratfordjazz.org.uk

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