Guitarist Nicolas Meier might be Swiss-born and live in Britain, but he gets a lot of his inspiration from further afield – places like Turkey and Spain.
He has consummate skill and can even turn his hand to a guitar without frets – great for getting that microtonal Middle Eastern feel.
Meier is currently touring in support of his new album called Yuz (it’s on the sonically excellent Naim label) and he hits the White Swan at Stratford-upon-Avon on Sunday.
How lucky the good people of Stratford-upon-Avon are to have not only a pretty good theatre in town but also the kind of regular pub jazz night that attracts artists of this calibre.
The Meier Group also has Gilad Atzmon on saxophone, Tom Mason on bass and Asif Sirkis on drums.
Stratford Jazz presents free jazz every Sunday at the White Swan in Rother Street. It starts at 8pm and for more information contact Roy on 01789 298607 or go to www.stratfordjazz.org.uk.
Also kicking on Sunday evenings is the Live Box at The Drum. On offer is a regular jam session with particular emphasis on that area of the music where jazz meets hip-hop and spoken word. Natural as Soweto Kinch is the driving force behind these sessions.
This Sunday the accent is likely to be on instrumental sounds with pianist Robert Mitchell and violinist Omar Puente.
Mitchell has developed a strong identity with two albums in his own name, while Santiago-born Puente has added his high energy Latin style to bands led by Courtney Pine, Jools Holland and, of course, Mitchell.
For this date they will be playing music from their Bridges collaboration.
The Live Box happens every Sunday, admission is #5 (#3) and it starts at 7.45pm. The Drum is in Potters Lane, Aston, Birmingham. Box Office: 0121 333 2444. www.the-drum.org.uk.
Big news from Coventry is that the Mingus Big Band will be coming to this year’s Coventry Jazz Festival.
This group, run by Charles’ widow Sue, draws the cream of American musicians, young and old, and dedicates itself to keeping the huge Mingus songbook alive and thriving with new arrangements and lots of delving into its dusty corners.
The Coventry Jazz Festival runs in various venues around the city from May 24 to 28. The Mingus Big Band will be playing in Coventry Cathedral on Friday, May 25 at 8pm.
Tickets are on sale from Monday, April 9, at the box office at the Tourist Information Centre in Priory Row in Coventry City Centre, by ringing 024 7622 7264 or by visiting www.coventryjazzfestival.com.
Another joint jumping with increasing vigour is the new Yardbird at Paradise Place in Birmingham.
Very popular with the student crowd, both punters and musicians, it offers a wide range of music on most nights of the week. Thursday is favoured day for Jazz with the Mike Adlington/Mike Fletcher Quintet there this week. There is also a jam session element to the evening. The jam session seems to be well and truly back, and to that we say hurrah.
Entrance is free at the Yardbird and the music goes from 9pm to late. More info on www.myspace.com/theyardbirdbirmingham.