When it comes to hard-working and enthusiastic contributors to the jazz life of Birmingham and the wider Midlands, there are few who cover as many bases as trumpeter Ray Butcher.
Whether leading his own band, contributing live jazz for TV programmes, sitting in with the Walsall Jazz Orchestra, contributing to countless pop, soul and gospel sessions, or as part of Tim Amann’s X-Tet, Ray’s round, burnished tone rings out straight and true, while his smeared and growled notes add strong character.
Ray’s album War On The Saints features his trumpet – and on a few tracks his piano playing too – along with a range of players, from Tim Amann on piano to Percy Pursglove on bass. It’s a fine introduction to Ray’s sound and style, and he has nearly finished a new album of original tunes. His latest live collaboration is with Welsh keyboard player Huw Warren.
Warren is a terrific player and composer, has a long list of recordings to his name, and in addition to leading and contributing to many jazz groups he has been musical director to folk singer June Tabor for many years now.
Now, with the addition of drummer Miles Levin the Ray Butcher/Huw Warren band has become a trio, and plays tomorrow (Friday) at The Red Lion in Warstone Lane, Birmingham, for Birmingham Jazz. Get to The Red Lion’s before 7.45pm, pay £8 (or £5 if you are a member) to the nice people at the door, and you can expect an evening of standards mixed in with original compositions by the band members. For more information go to birminghamjazz.co.uk
By way of a starter before that main course, you can take in the Robbie Moore Quintet at the Symphony Hall cafe bar in the city centre from 5pm. Pianist Robbie is a Birmingham Conservatoire graduate and his band includes alto saxophonist Chris Young and trumpeter Sam Wooster. Last time he played this Jazzlines free session it was playing funky cop show tunes, but this time he has a book of originals and his jazz hat on. Entry is free.
More at thsh.co.uk/jazzlines
The Spotted Dog on Tuesday welcomes a quartet co-led by pianist Sam Leek and saxophonist Alex Merritt. Both players have led their own bands at Ronnie Scott’s in London but this one has them sharing the responsibilities in the company of Mark Lewandowski on bass and David Ingamells on drums.
The live music gets going at 9pm, and there is a jam session afterwards. For more go to the Jazz @ The Spotted Dog page on Facebook.
Finally, don’t forget to plan ahead. Here are some great gigs to look forward to and to buy tickets for now:
Friday July 4: Christine Tobin – The Songs Of Leonard Cohen. This is a superb evening of the great Canadian’s songs from possibly their finest interpreter. With guitarist Phil Robson and bassist Dave Whitford. The Red Lion – more at birminghamjazz.co.uk
July 11 to 13: Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival. This year the jazz line-up includes Sons Of Kemet, Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion, Courtney Pine, Young Pilgrims and the Sara Colman Brazilian Project, all in the magical surroundings of Moseley Park – more at mostlyjazz.co.uk.
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