One of the liveliest and most characterful sidemen in the Midlands gets to be bandleader tonight as double bassist Tom Hill brings his quartet into The Yardbird.

With him are Neil Bullock on drums, Andy Shillingford on saxophone and Pete Harris on guitar and Hill mixes up the jazz with healthy dollops of blues and funk, choosing the repertoire from the Yellowjackets, Herbie Hancock, Muddy Waters and Maceo Parker, among others.

Expect some vocals from Tom and some funny between-songs chat from the man who is also a voice-over artist and kids TV actor. Oh, and the raffle prize is a seat on the first spaceship to Mars. As Tom says: “Be there or be an eggplant!”

The music starts at 9pm and runs till 11.30pm. Entry is free.

Pianist David Grey has a new CD out with his Greyish Quartet - Sam Wooster on trumpet, Nick Jurd on double bass and Jim Bashford on drums - and the band is launching it tomorrow evening at The Drum.

It’s called The Dark Red Room, it’s full of music inspired by film and photography, and it has taken two years to put together. Be the first to own a copy - they will be for sale for a mere £10 tomorrow evening. The music starts at 8.30pm, it is £5 to get in, and there is more at

On Saturday there’s a chance to hear further developments of the strong new music on Empirical’s latest release, Elements Of Truth, in all its live, in the moment, intensity.

Whereas for their previous recording the band explored Eric Dolphy’s legacy, for this one it was all about the band and now.

At the time of its release last year bassist Tom Farmer told me: “Elements Of Truth is about getting back to the Empirical ethos – ‘gathering knowledge through observation and experiment’.

“We had concentrated on Dolphy to improve our ensemble feel and for this project we wanted to apply what we had learnt. The starting point was to look around us and try to express our observations through musical and ensemble experiments.

“We live in crazy times and wanted to create something that reflected music and the world in the present, without such a direct link to the past.”

With Tom at the mac on Saturday evening from 8pm will be Nathaniel Facey on altosaxophone, Lewis Wright on vibes and Shaney Forbes on drums.

This is an exceptionally fine band and they are even better experienced live.

Tickets are £10 from or on 0121 446 3232, and there is more information at

Other good gigs this week:

Sunday: Chris Bowden makes his Tomorrow Band with Ben Markland on bass and Neil Bullock on drums into a quartet by adding pianist Steve Tromans. They are at The Chapel in No1 Shakespeare Street, Stratford upon Avon, from 8pm, tickets are £8 and there is more at

Tuesday: Guitarist Pete Harris is having a busy week and leads his own band with strong blues leanings at The Jam House from 8.30pm. Entry is free.