One of the highlights of Birmingham jazz in 2010 was the new Mostly Jazz Festival, an offshoot of the Moseley Folk Festival and using the same lovely little park as its pastoral setting.

Well, Mostly Jazz is back on the first weekend in July, and the 2011 festival is being launched this evening at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath.

Trumpeter Matthew Halsall will be on hand with his quintet – Nat Birchill on soprano and tenor sax, Taz Modi on piano, Gavin Barras on double bass and Gaz Hughes on drums – and in many ways is the embodiment of the Mostly Jazz ethos.

He and his music are cool, contemporary and young, or to use an old-fashioned word, hip.

He is also a favourite of DJ Gilles Peterson, who himself will be headlining the festival.

Also on the bill for 2011 are the Cinematic Orchestra, the Matthew Herbert Big Band, Booker T and Pigbag. There is a Birmingham Jazz stage on the Saturday which will feature Sara Colman, Lluis Mather and Steve Tromans among others.

Find out more about this evening at and more about the Mostly Jazz Festival (July 1-3) at

* Tomorrow (Friday) the man easing your Rush Hour Blues is saxophonist Sam Coombes, who divides his time between Paris and London and has a new album out, Outlines, on the 33Jazz label.

He leads a quartet and has been highly praised for his technical prowess and his clarity of phrasing.

The music runs from 5.30pm to 7pm in the Symphony Hall foyer bar and entry is free.

* If you missed Chris Gumbley’s excellent Cannonball Adderley tribute gig at a recent Rush Hour Blues session, you have another chance to hear it on Tuesday at the Jam House.

The band plays the familiar classics such as Work Song and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy but also include some lesser known gems from the Adderley treasure trove. With Chris on alto saxophone are Neil Yates on trumpet, Dan Nicholls on piano, Tom Hill on bass and Carl Hemmingsley on drums.

The Jam House gig is promoted by Birmingham Jazz and starts at 9.30pm. Entry is free. More at

* Sunday evening’s Stratford Jazz Club welcomes drummer, composer, Birmingham Conservatoire student and thejazzbreakfast blog contributor JJ Wheeler with his band.

Chris Maddock is on alto, Charlie Portas on tenor, Ralph Brown on piano, and Tom Moore on bass.

A couple of months back I went to three gigs on three nights, at least one of which featured internationally famous jazz masters in a proper venue, but this band, playing in front of the women’s loo door in a local pub, provided my highlight of that week. See what you think at The Chapel, in Shakespeare Street, Stratford from 8pm. Entry is £6.