“Happy birthday to you,” is never sung with quite such a sense of style and swing at any other time of the year, or with such respect and warmth. Yes, the veteran Birmingham saxophonist Andy Hamilton is celebrating again.
Andy’s 94th birthday party takes place at Bearwood Corks Club this evening, and joining Andy’s Blue Note will be Soweto Kinch. Expect some clever rhyming and word play from the young jazz hip-hopper, in addition to some mellow tenor from the birthday boy.
Doors open at 8.30pm, the music starts at 9pm, tickets are £6 and there is more information at www.bearwoodjazz.co.uk
Tomorrow evening the masters of the quiet fire, the Tord Gustavsen Quartet, play the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street.
The Norwegian pianist attracted a big following with his trio’s first release on the ECM label, Changing Places, in 2003, and two more trio albums together with a lot of touring built that audience still further.
So it was understandable that there was a certain queasiness when Gustavsen decided to change the group format. Matts Eilertsen came in on bass to join Gustavsen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, and Tore Brunborg on saxophone made it a quartet.
Any worries that the addition of a horn to the piano trio would spoil the mood were dispelled as soon as the group was heard, especially when they toured in 2009.
Brunborg is the perfect horn player for this band, and is perfectly in tune with Gustavsen’s blend of strong melodies and restrained gospel feel. Eilertsen, too, enhances the band with his own very lyrical double bass style.
Gustavsen considers a concert to be like a mediation in church.
But, he explained to me, “It is also a matter of grooviness, a matter of artistic virtuosity.
First and foremost it is about trying to narrow in on the point where music really matters, that this is really saying something important, this is bringing me closer to the essence of life.”
Also tomorrow evening, there is a new venue for the Cobweb Collective. It’s ORT, the cool art and community cafe at the Old Print Works in Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, and playing the launch event is saxophonist Mike Fletcher’s More Or Less Ensemble, more concisely known as MOLE.
Stratford Jazz meets on Sunday at No 1 Shakespeare Street in the Warwickshire town, and on the stand is guitarist Dominic Norcross and his band. The music starts at 8pm, entry is £8 on the door. More at www.stratfordjazz.org.uk
Finally, the Bristol jazz-rock quartet Get The Blessing play this month’s Jazz Club gig at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath on Wednesday evening.
The band has a new album out, called OCDC, and the band’s saxophonist Jake McMurchie says it’s “more mature, more elegant and perhaps more exuberant, without being bombastic or triumphalist. It’s darker but somehow more life-affirming.”
So, a life-affirming end to the jazz week. It starts at 8.30pm, the Nick Rundle band is in support, tickets are £5 and you can find out more at www.birminghamjazz.co.uk