The Ethiopian pianist, composer and arranger Mulatu Astatke brought a whole new jazz sound to me when I first heard him on a compilation of the Ethiopiques series that had been documenting the diversity of that country's music through the decades.

It was a thrilling sound - the horn section harmonies were rich and the rhythms seductive and just a little bit dangerous. And the whole thing was suffused with the dust of Africa, albeit a sonic dust.

So it is exciting to lead this week's diary with the fact that Astatke will be at Warwick Arts Centre this evening.

Astatke was born in 1943 and got his musical education in London, New York and Boston - he was the legendary jazz academy, the Berklee College of Music's first African student.

Like his fellow African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, he had the chance while in the US to work with Duke Ellington, whose influence can still be heard in his music.

Then he returned home to found a music school and open his own club. Astatke's work was at the centre of a renaissance in Ethiopia's pop and jazz music in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Earlier this century, he began collaborating with the Either/Orchestra, and in 2009 he released an album with the London-based collective the Heliocentrics.

The band leader - who plays the vibes, percussion and organ in addition to piano - will be joined tonight by a band of guests to play some of his greatest hits - well they were in Ethiopia - plus new material.

Mulatu Astatke is in the Warwick Arts Centre Theatre tonight from 7.30pm and tickets are available from or on 024 7652 4524.

Also, at Warwick Arts Centre, on Saturday evening, the popular jazz DJ Mr Scruff is on the decks for a Keep It Unreal Club Night. The Scruffster will mix jazz in with soul, funk, R'n'B, reggae and more between 9pm and 2am. Your feet will ache. Find out more at warwickartscen or on 024 7652 4524.

Pianist Toby Boalch leads a band of Chris Maddock on alto, John Flemming on tenor, Richard Foote on trombone, Nick Jurd on double bass and Jonathan Silk on drums at The Spotted Dog, Digbeth, on Tuesday. They will be playing new material from Toby, influenced by composers like Bob Brookmeyer and Kenny Wheeler.

The fun starts at 9pm and a hat goes round for contributions. More about this at

There is also action of the more avant garde kind on Tuesday evening at the Lamp Tavern, also in Digbeth, as two Norwegians - Henrik Norstebo on trombone and Adrian Myhr on double bass - get together with two British players - Mark Sanders on drums and Walt Shaw on percussion and electronics.

This is a Fizzle session masterminded by Mike Hurley.

Tickets are s5 on the door and the music starts around 8.30pm.