There’s a jam-packed three days from Birmingham Jazz, starting this evening, and there should be something for everyone.
Tonight is a rare chance to hear a double bill of Harold Budd, a legend of avant-garde and ambient music that has always incorporated some jazz influences, and The Necks, the Australian piano trio who take a highly original path in improvisation, to mesmerising effect.
It has been said that Budd’s penchant for long subtly varying minimalist sounds was inspired by the humming of the telephone lines on the Mojave Desert where he grew up.
He has moved easily between the contemporary classical, jazz and avant rock worlds, along the way working with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno.
A performance in Brighton in 2005 was billed as his last public performance, but now he is back and being assisted by a fellow improviser, Werner Dafeldecker.
The Necks are pianist Chris Abrahams, bassist Lloyd Swanton and drummer Tony Buck. The instrumental format may be one familiar to jazz, but the musical path The Necks take, while falling entirely within the world of improvisation, is most original.
They start from a single idea laid down by one of the band, then build a slowly developing piece of music from it which might include some minimalist and rock elements as well as jazz, but really sounds nothing like any of these genres.
As live performers they show an extraordinary musical empathy with one another, working like one improvising musicians with three instrumental outlets.
If you have never heard them, or feel this might not be your thing, I urge you to give The Necks a try. You won’t have had a concert experience like this before.
To add to the originality of the gig, there will be a visual show to accompany it from artist Russell Mills, and it is taking place in an unconventional space, the A E Harris building in Northwood Street in the Jewellery Quarter.
It’s a Sound And Music presentation in association with Birmingham Jazz, starts at 8pm and tickets are available from Ticketsellers. Go to www.birminghamjazz.co.uk for the link.
Tomorrow’s Rush Hour Blues session in the Symphony Hall foyer bar features pianist Dave Stapleton and his Catching Sunlight project, written for a saxophone quartet, piano bass, drums and trumpet.
The quartet in question is the Lunar Saxophone Quartet.
The music starts at 5.30pm sharp, and runs till 7pm. Entrance is free.
On Saturday the octogenarian saxophonist Bobby Wellins leads his band at the MAC. Wellins is one of the most singular saxophone stylists British jazz has produced, and his sound is just as strong and inviting in old age as it was all those years ago when he used it ith distinction on Stan Tracey’s famous Under Milkwood jazz suite.
Another great album from the Wellins discography is The Satin Album, in which he plays, track for track, Billie Holiday’s album of the same name. He is one of the very few instrumentalists who can come close to conveying the mood of that testament to Holiday’s greatness.
With Wellins will be Barry Green on piano, Dave Whitford on bass and Dave Wickens on drums. They have a new record, Time Gentlemen, which I am sure will be available on the night.
Starting time is 8pm, and tickets are available from www.macarts.co.uk
Finally, a reminder that on Sunday there is a very strong line-up at No1 Shakespeare St for a benefit gig to help Midlands trumpeter Bryan Corbett who is facing urgent surgery. Among those on the stand will be Alan Barnes, Chris Bowden, Sara Colman, Al Gurr, Pete Harris and Mike Gorman, along with, of course, Bryan’s band cohorts Neil Bullock, Ben Markland and Levi French.
Note the earlier start time of 7.30pm, tickets are £10 on the door and there is more at www.stratfordjazz.org.uk