The Midlands’ instrumental jazz highlight of the week is a double shiner: two opportunities to hear the Tord Gustavsen Quartet, in Birmingham on Friday and in Wolverhampton on Sunday.
The Norwegian musician feels that with their latest recording, Extended Circle, on the ECM label, this band really has reached a new level of what he feels is important in music.
He explains: “It is about a contemplative approach to music but also about emotional intensity and lyrical beauty in every song and in every moment.”
The band – Gustavsen on piano, Tore Brunborg on saxophone, Mats Eilertsen on double bass and Jarle Vespestad on drums – has recently been playing in the US, including the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and their London concert last weekend was sold out.
The Birmingham concert is a Jazzlines one at the CBSO Centre, 8pm on Friday. Tickets are £15 and there is more at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines
The Wolverhampton concert is at the Arena Theatre and is part of the recently inaugurated Jazz At The Arena series which has Wolverhampton-born Dave Holland as its patron. It starts at 8pm tickets are £18 and there is more at wlv.ac.uk/arena
* The Midlands’ vocal jazz highlight is the appearance of Gregory Porter at Birmingham Town Hall on Tuesday, though if you don’t already have tickets you have nothing but my sympathy. This one is sold out.
* And now for the rest of the recommended jazz gigs around the region: Vocalist Holly Thomas, now based in London, returns to the city of her student days for a free gig tonight with her Quintet: Lluis Mather on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Andy Bunting on piano, Hamish Livingstone on double bass and Euan Palmer on drums. Holly arranges jazz standards in a fresh way and mixes them in with her own compositions. This one is in the foyer of the Bramall Music Building on the University of Birmingham campus. It starts at 5pm. More at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines
* Free again on Friday and also at 5pm, there is “folk, jazz and madness” offered by the Ruth Angell/Sid Peacock band. Ruth and Sid on violin and guitar respectively are joined by Steve Tromans on piano, Rob Anstey on double bass and Tymoteusz Jozwiak on drums. It’s in the Symphony Hall Cafe Bar. More at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines
* Reed player Gilad Atzmon and his regular band, the Orient House Ensemble, are at the Warwick Arts Centre Studio on Friday from 7.45pm. Atzmon is an explosive live performer and runs an exceptionally good band that knows how to ramp up the emotional intensity. Tickets are £12.50 and there is more at warwickartscentre.co.uk
* On Tuesday the biggest band of the week squeezes into the smallest venue of the week, The Spotted Dog in Digbeth. The band is the Matt Gough Dectet. Joining Matt on trumpet the other nine are vocalist Gina Stalbow, saxophonists Chris Young and John Fleming, French horn player Sabrina Pullen, trombonists Richard Foote and Tom Dunnett, guitarist Toby Carpenter, bassist Nick Jurd and drummer Ben Kane. The fun starts after 8pm, there is usually a late-night jam session and a collection is taken during the evening.