The saxophonist Charlie “Yardbird” Parker remains for many listeners, and for many musicians, the ultimate jazz musician. Not only did he compose and improvise on tunes that were fiendishly difficult, he did it with a kind of insouciance that suggested that it was all rather easy, really.
For him, maybe, but jazz ever since has been littered with those who have tried to do justice to his music and failed.
I have often imagined the ghost of Charlie Parker quietly leaving the room, head held low, when some naive bunch of jazzers has a go at a knotty tune like Scrapple From The Apple or Confirmation.
It just seemed so fully formed as Parker did it, that to attempt it again was pointless.
But if that ghost were in the room when pianist Django Bates, double bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Pete Bruun were playing, I have a feeling it would stick around.
You might feel that cool presence in the CBSO Centre tomorrow, as this trio, Django Bates’s Beloved they are called, play a Jazzlines gig.
The band has been playing Bird’s music for the last five years and has two albums behind it, Beloved Bird and Confirmation.
As with all Django Bates’s music, there is a good deal of deconstruction and rebuilding that goes on.
He changes course, time-wise, harmony-wise, everything else-wise, at the passing of a bar line. He is likely to squeeze out a bebop piano phrase one second and a gently harmonised wordless-vocal the next, a neo-classical harmony here and a Latin rhythm there. And as for time, it’s extraordinarily elastic. Django Bates’ Beloved is at the CBSO Centre from 8pm tomorrow. Tickets are £14 plus transaction fee at www.thsh.co.uk or on 0121 780 4949.
* Also this week, there is a trio of superb free gigs.
Tonight at the Bramall Building on the University of Birmingham campus you can hear the new Phil Robson Trio, with the guitarist joined by drummer Gene Calderazzo and Ross Stanley on organ. They play from 5pm.
Tomorrow saxophonist Tony Woods brings his Lyric Ensemble to the Symphony Hall Cafe Bar from 5pm, then on Tuesday, Bristol-based saxophonist Kevin Figes brings his quartet to the Jam House. Figes has an excellent new album out with this band called Tables And Chairs, and Blomfield is about to release a trio disc called Wave Forms And Sea Changes. It starts at 8.30pm.
More on all these at www.thsh.co.uk/jazzlines