The second weekend of September means just one thing: Artsfest. As usual, there is a bit of jazz in there among the dance, classical music, theatre, pop and street entertainment...
On Friday, Birmingham Jazz is serving up a two-course early evening musical meal of two excellent, locally-led bands in the main hall at Symphony Hall – yep, it’s a bit like one of those days when ordinary people get a glimpse beyond the doors of posh houses, with jazzers usually restricted to the more free and easy melee of the foyer bar getting to play on the hallowed ground of the concert platform.
First up is the Ben Markland band, a quintet with Ben on bass, his regular rhythm partner Neil Bullock on drums, Pete Harris on guitar, Bryan Corbett on trumpet and Chris Bowden on alto saxophone.
They are followed by the Percy Pursglove Quartet, which comprises Percy on trumpet, Andrew Bain on drums and Ross Stanley on organ. Yes, I know that is only three – Percy likes to play fast and loose with a fourth member of the band. At a recent gig for the Lichfield Festival in July it was New York saxophonist and winner of the Thelonious Monk prize, Jon Irabagon, so you know when Percy promises a “special guest” he’s not fooling.
It begins, just as the usual Friday evening Rush Hour Blues sessions in the foyer do, at 5.30pm and it runs till 7pm. It’s all at no cost to us lucky punters. You might find out more at birminghamjazz.co.uk and you will also find full details of their autumn season on gigs, too.
l Django Reinhardt was a man in a million – I’m not sure that any other jazz musician can quite make the same claim to have spawned an entire stylistic branch of jazz all on his own. Yes, there may have been other gypsy-style guitarists at the time, but how many do we remember, whereas there are whole festivals devoted to Djangology and new, young players come along every year to show the Hot Club de Paris magic still holds sway.
On such guitarist is Paul Vernon Chester and, along with his cousin Nick Mellor, on rhythm guitar, he will be twanging those strings on Sunday at The Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon from 8pm. It’s a Stratford Jazz presentation and tickets are £8 on the door. There is more info at stratfordjazz.org.uk
Other gigs this week:
Tonight (Thursday): Andy Hamilton and the Blue Notes are at the Bearwood Corks Club from 9pm. More at bearwoodjazz.co.uk
Sunday: The Steve King Big Band is at Solihull Arts Complex from 7.30pm. More at stevekingbigband.co.uk
Monday: Brian Dee is on piano, with fellow pianist Paul Sawtell switching to vibes, at Bolehall Manor, Tamworth, from 8.30pm. Call 01827 58654 for more.
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