As an antidote to all those sickening "new year, new you" articles and adverts for gymnasiums (as we pedants prefer to call them) being thrust at us at this time of the year, here's a much better way to cleanse your being of all the festive excesses.

It's called free improvisation and it's the jazz equivalent of standing under a Welsh waterfall in full spate - a bit of a shock to the system but, heavens, you will know you are alive.

On Thursday at The Victoria, at the corner of John Bright and Station Street, in Birmingham, the latest season of Frimp (that's free improvisation, you understand) gets under way.

On the stand will be Bruce Coates on saxophones, Trevor Lines on bass, Jamie Smith on guitar and Mark Sanders on drums.

Bruce's love of free jazz and experimental music goes way back and the depth of his interest can be seen on the website he masterminds - - as well as in the range of his collaborators, from British free jazz stalwart, saxophonist Paul Dunmall to the wonderfully-named, Amsterdam-based Mount Fuji Doom Jazz Corporation.

Trevor has his bass feet firmly planted in two musical worlds - the free/improve one and the folk one, with some space for jazz in between. In addition, he produced a very good album of jazz that boasts one of the finest titles ever: The Cats Hide Under The Bed When I Play My Gary Windo Records. It's still available, I believe, from Wriggly Pig Records in Birmingham.

Jamie has a trio called Misterlee and, like the others, also plays in the Birmingham Improvisers Orchestra.

Mark is a drummer of high renown, having played with Jah Wobble and David Sylvian as well as being sticksman of choice for Evan Parker and regularly partnering Paul Rogers.

Doors open at 8pm, the band starts at 8.45pm and it costs £6/£4 to get in.

There is more from Frimp on the first Thursdays in February, March and April, with the man himself, Paul Dunmall, in the house for the last two.

For more, call 0121 4154491 or go to which really is an excellent website, offering a highly accessible way in to the British free/improv scene as well as amazing depth for the already enlightened. You can download interviews and podcasts, buy a wide range of albums, and join the mailing list. Now there's a resolution worth keeping.

Farewell to Oscar

Finally, let's all bid a sad farewell to the great Oscar Peterson by seeking out our favourites from the collection and having a quiet valedictory listen. Mine will be a live version of Tenderly that was my late father's choice OP track. Two good reasons for reflection and remembrance, then.

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