The last weekend in July is becoming renowned for a special mainstream jazz gathering in particularly picturesque surroundings. The fourth Titley Jazz Festival (tomorrow to Sunday) happens at a spot called The Rodd, just a mile south of Presteigne on the Welsh Marches – that’s only 50 miles from Birmingham.
Everything happens on one site with a concert marquee, a fine bar manned by the Hereford branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, and hot and cold food available throughout the weekend.
So that’s the physical sustenance sorted; what about the musical menu?
This year there is a leaning towards tributes to great musicians of the past, all paid by some of today’s great players.
So tomorrow evening we have a tribute to Elvin Jones and Martin Drew, as well as Terry Seabrook’s Milestones band, which harks back to Miles Davis’s late ‘50s music.
On Saturday the Art Themen/Steve Waterman group plays music linked to two tenor greats, the late Dexter Gordon and the very much still with us Sonny Rollins, while guitarist Gary Potter plays music by Django Reinhardt 60 years after the gypsy maestro’s death.
Sunday’s tributes are to Gerry Mulligan in big band format, led by tenor saxophonist Robert Fowler with Karen Sharp taking the Mulligan baritone role, and to Tubby Hayes, the group naturally led by that modern Hayes advocate Simon Spillett.
Some of the players making the trip to Wales include: Alan Barnes, Don Weller, Dave Newton, Stan and Clark Tracey, John Critchinson, Alec Dankworth, Dave Green, Martin Shaw, Steve Melling, Spike Wells, Peter King, Alan Skidmore, Mark Nightingale, Chris Biscoe and Andy Cleyndert. Phew!
For more information, go to www.titleyjazz.com
* If you opt not for the rural idyll but for the urban sprawl, then jazz relief comes to you tomorrow evening in the Symphony Hall cafe bar from 5pm courtesy of pianist Steve Tromans and singer Alison Symons.
They explore their own new arrangements of the vocal classics from the Great American Songbook with support from Matt Finlay on double bass and Euan Palmer on drums.
Entry is free for this Jazzlines gig. More at www.thsh.co.uk
* From there take the natural route to Balsall Heath and The Ort Cafe for the Toby Boalch Sextet. Toby is on piano with Chris Maddock on alto, John Fleming on tenor, Richard Foote on trombone, Nick Jurd on double bass and Jonathan Silk on drums.
It starts around 8.30pm and entry is £5, and for the true jazz club experience where the players feel relaxed enough to take even more chances The Ort is hard to beat. More at www.ortcafe.co.uk or www.blambirmingham.co.uk