The arguments are attempted from time to time - Oslo is the new capital of jazz, or London, or Paris But, let's face it, it's New York; it has been for the last 80 years or so, and there is no sign of that changing.

So, it's one of the Birmingham Jazz organisation's chief strength that BJ artistic director Tony Dudley-Evans has a lot of friends in the city of dreams.

They include trumpeter Dave Douglas, saxophonists Tim Berne and Marty Ehrlich, pianist Uri Caine, drummers Tom Rainey and Bobby Previte and many more. We've seen Tom Rainey a number of times in Birmingham, and bassist Mark Helias has been here in a couple of bands, but on Tuesday Birmingham Jazz adds a new name to the NY connections list: saxophonist Tony Malaby.

The band has the evocative title Open Loose, and is led by Helias, but I am sure it will prove a trio of three equal partners.

Helias has some of the most impressive (and to conservative ears some of the most alarming) names in his CV - he has played with Anthony Braxton, Dewey Redman, Ed Blackwell and Don Cherry.

Open Loose has been gigging in New York for a few years now and listeners and reviewers have commented on the remarkable group empathy that has been built up.

Malaby has been a sideman with Paul Motian, Fred Hersch and Marty Ehrlich, and has a bunch of discs recorded under his own name, too, many of them with Rainey.

And what can one say of Tom Rainey? He is one of jazz's true originals, endlessly inventive, always searching, and always an inspiration and a complete pleasure to listen to.

All three players combine the ability to stretch the harmonic and rhythmic limits of the music while never losing the plot, and all three represent some of the finest jazz musicianship on the planet.

They are probably too well established (and too mature) to still have the tag avant garde attached to them, but they remain in the alternative New York scene, content to play the small clubs Downtown and in Brooklyn rather than the glitzy places.

Birmingham is very lucky to have a chance to hear them.

Open Loose play the Mac tomorrow night at 8pm. Tickets are £10 (£7 for Birmingham Jazz members and concessions) and are available from 0121 440 3838 or via www.birminghamjazz.co.uk

 Other good gigs this week:

Thursday: Not quite jazz but pretty mind-blowing, especially for budding guitarists, Kaki King brings her extraordinary double-handed hammer-on technique to the Glee Club. The music is somewhere between blues, funk and flamenco, and the attitude refreshingly punky. Doors open at 7.30pm and tickets are £8 online at www.glee.co.uk.
Friday: Mark Goodchild's Ellingtonia play . . . . no. not Ellington, but the music of Thelonious Monk from 5.30pm in the Symphony Hall foyer bar. It's free.
Saturday: Dance with jazz tendencies to the sound of Brotherly, multi-instrumentalist Robin Mullarkey and singer Anna Stubbs plus other musicians, at the Yardbird. The music starts at 10.30pm and entrance is £3 after 9pm. More info at www.myspace.com/theyardbirdbirmingham 
Sunday: Again, not quite jazz, but the African Soul Rebels line-up at the Warwick Arts Centre includes Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen and the great Salif Keita. Tickets from warwickartscentre.co.uk are £16.50 and it starts at 8pm.

* If you have any news or views you'd like to share, email me at peterbacon@mac.com.  The blog is at www.thejazzbreakfast.blogspot.com