After a relatively quiet couple of weeks in Birmingham, this is something of a bumper week for jazz, with two major trios visiting the city for two unmissable gigs.
Andy Sheppard first came to my attention when he won an award or competition that was broadcast on television – yes, jazz on television! Can you believe that? Well, it was in the late 1980s – you wouldn’t get that kind of thing happening today.
Since then he has toured all over world and made many albums, both under his own name and as part of groups led by US composer Carla Bley.
His latest project is a trio with French double bassist Michel Benita and British drummer Sebastian Rochford. It is called Trio Libero and plays a Jazzlines gig tomorrow evening at the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street, Birmingham.
The trio’s recent album on the ECM label shows that this is one of those bands that first came together in performance – in fact they have been playing occasional gigs since 2009 – and that empathy and should be even more strongly illustrated in concert.
All three contribute compositions and are happy to range far and wide stylistically, incorporating rhythms and influences from all over the world.
Trio Libero are at the CBSO Centre from 8pm tomorrow night and you can buy tickets at www.thsh.co.uk
On Tuesday another pan-European trio, though this time one based in London. Phronesis is led by Danish double bassist Jasper Hoiby, who first came here to study and, luckily for us, stayed on. On drums is Anton Eger from Sweden and British pianist Ivo Neame completes the band. As with Trio Libero, all three musicians contribute tunes, and they cover a wide range from quiet reflection to some of the most exhilarating music.
The band’s latest disc, Walking Dark, is something of a tribute to Hoiby’s sister who is sight-impaired, and to a series of gigs the band did in total darkness. The spontaneous interaction the players show in performance is clearly testament to those dark gigs.
Phronesis are at the mac on Tuesday, the music starts at 8pm and this is another Jazzlines event. Book via www.macarts.co.uk
If you missed Hamish Livingstone’s Titanic Ensemble at the Rush Hour Blues session last month they are doing a repeat presentation of their White Star Line Songbook at the ORT Cafe tomorrow evening. Double bassist Hamish, a student at Birmingham Conservatoire, has rearranged some of the music the liner’s band would have been playing as the ship went down, and adding his own compositions too. The band features Euan Palmer on drums, Katy-Ellen Bryce on viola, Laura Collins on cello and vocals, and Tobie Carpenter on guitar.
The band is on from 8.30pm and you can find out more at www.ortcafe.co.uk
On Sunday, Inspector Gadjo plays for Stratford Jazz at No1 Shakespeare Street, in Stratford-upon-Avon. In the band are Will Barnes on guitar, Tommy Mills on bass and George Jackson on drums, with Casey Greene on reeds. It starts at 8pm and you can find out more at www.stratfordjazz.org.uk
Finally, also on Tuesday, saxophonist Lluis Mather leads a trio with Rob Anstey on double bass and Dave Hamblett on drums at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth. It starts after 8pm, with free entry but a hat passed round. More at www.cobwebcollective.com