One of the liveliest and most creative players on the Birmingham scene is pianist, composer and band leader David Austin Grey. On Friday we hear him leading another new band, a quintet with Tymek Jozwiak on drums, Ashley Trigg on bass, Jack Davis on trumpet and Ivan Melo on guitar. Grey’s writing and interests take in cinema, hip-hop, minimalism and modern classical techniques to enhance the solid bedrock of his love of modern jazz. It’s music that has both depth and excitement. The David Austin Grey Quintet is at the Red Lion in Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter , on Friday at 7.45pm, courtesy of Birmingham Jazz . Admission is £5 (free for BJ members) and you can find out more at birminghamjazz.co.uk
Also on Friday, there is a real treat for lovers of jazz at the freer end of its spectrum. Whahay is an Anglo-French trio of Paul Rogers on seven-string bass, Robin Fincker on saxophones and Fabien Duscombs on drums that pays tribute to the music of Charles Mingus. The band is being presented by Tony Dudley-Evans and Mike Hurley, who regularly organises more experimental bands at his Fizzle sessions at the Lamp Tavern.
Tony says: “Whahay were originally formed for the Jazz A Luz Festival in the Pyrenees – always a strong recommendation. When I heard them at The Vortex in London last year I was really taken with the way they went in and out of the original Mingus tunes. There would be a period of intense improvisation and then suddenly they were into a tune I recognised.” Whahay are at The Ort Cafe at 8.30pm on Friday. Entry is £5 on the door.
And the other highlight of the week is tonight (Thursday), when jazz-rock-funk trio Troyka play The Hare And Hounds in Kings Heath . Guitarist Chris Montague, organist Kit Downes and drummer Joshua Blackmore make some of the most exciting modern jazz-dance crossover around, and their recent expansion with big band into Troyk-estra was a revelation. Condensed back down to a trio, the intensity of the music is likely to be high, the mood down and dirty, and the setting upstairs at the H&H just perfect. This is a Jazzlines gig , tickets are £8 and there is more at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines
The marvellous Birmingham-based pianist Andy Bunting sits in with countless bands, but gets to lead his own for two gigs this week. The Andy Bunting Quintet - with Andy’s regular trio partners bassist Nick Jurd and Jonathan Silk on drums augmented by reeds players Mike Fletcher and Lluis Mather - plays the Jazzlines Free session on Friday at the Symphony Hall cafe bar at 5pm, and The Spotted Dog in Digbeth at 8.30pm on Tuesday. More at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines and Jazz @ The Spotted Dog on Facebook, respectively.
Finally, news of a very special day for traditional and New Orleans jazz fans in the Shrewsbury area and for one player in particular. On Sunday, from 8.30pm, Cliff Crockett will take up his usual place behind the drums with the Severnside Jazz Band at The Four Crosses Hotel in Bicton , when he will also be celebrating his 100th birthday! Yep, proof once more that jazz is the true elixir of life. Tickets are £5 on the door and you can find out more on 01743 249248.