It’s hard to believe, but one of British jazz’s most innovative and distinctive bands is 10 years old. Polar Bear, led by drummer Sebastian Rochford, has toured extensively over this decade and released its fifth recording at the beginning of the month. The band is at the Hare And Hounds in Kings Heath tonight.
Polar Bear is on the surface a twin-tenor saxophone, bass, drums and electronics quintet, but that doesn’t begin to give any idea of what the band sounds like.
It might have started out with distinctive, slightly mournful two-horn harmonies over a sometimes circus-band beat, but with the creativity of Rochford, bassist Tom Herbert, saxophonists Mark Lockheart and Pete Wareham augmented by the sound manipulation of multi-instrumentalist Leafcutter John and moving inexorably forward it was never going to stay like that.
The music on the latest release, In Each And Every One, the band’s first since 2010, shows the most dramatic leap yet. Conventional band roles are played with, and Rochford is often adding decoration around the edges to beats laid down by Leafcutter John.
Providing support on this Jazzlines gig will be Birmingham-based bassist Chris Mapp and his band Gonimoblast. The band shares a Polar Bear band-member in Leafcutter John and is completed by Sam Wooster on trumpet, Dan Nicholls on keyboards and Mark Sanders on drums.
An electrifying night is assured, the fun starts at 8.30pm, tickets are £12 and there is more at thsh.co.uk
* Tomorrow the second of the Jazzlines Fellowship showcases features saxophonist Lluis Mather. Over the past year Lluis has been developing his music for a larger ensemble and his core quartet with Holly Thomas on vocals, Dan Nicholls on piano and Euan Palmer on drums is augmented not only by fellow tenor saxophonist Julian Siegel but also, for part of the programme, by a wind quartet of flute, clarinet, oboe and bassoon.
Mather, a Birmingham Conservatoire graduate, is a familiar figure on the Birmingham jazz scene, not only leading his own bands but as a sideman in many others.
* Also tomorrow, Birmingham Jazz is presenting the Just Us Quartet, led by bassist Larry Bartley, at The Red Lion in Warstone Lane .
With Larry are saxophonists Tony Kofi and Ed Jones with Rod Youngs on drums. It should be an explosive line-up in the intimate setting of this room.
The music begins at 7.45pm, tickets are £12 and there is more at birminghamjazz.co.uk
* Lluis Mather’s sometime boss, pianist Hans Koller appears at the CBSO Centre on Saturday evening in a quartet with US saxophonist John O’Gallagher, drummer Jeff Williams and another Jazzlines Fellow, Percy Pursglove on bass.
It starts at 8pm, tickets £15, and there is more at thsh.co.uk