The tenor saxophone is a poisoned chalice: discuss.  Don't you wish your exam questions at school had been this interesting?

Of course, just like all provocative statements, it is clearly a daft one, but valuable for stimulating the debate nevertheless.

Tenorsaxland is certainly a highly populated area, and one of long shadows. They are cast by the giants no longer with us, by Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster and Stan Getz, John Coltrane and Michael Brecker, as well as some who still are, like Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter.

Those who choose to emigrate there are a brave bunch, or a foolhardy lot - take your pick. Among the most fearless and admirable of its current inhabitants must be Joshua Redman, and you can find out why at the Adrian Boult Hall on Friday.

It is to Joshua's credit that he is seldom referred to as "son of Dewey". Although he can claim direct lineage from one of the key members of Ornette Coleman's band and a long-burning beacon of the tenor avantgarde, the son chose what appeared at first to be a more conservative musical path, or at least this is how it was presented by the press.

In fact, Joshua just took his own path, and it is one that has provided us with a whole bunch of consistently fine and challenging recordings as well as some of the most exhilarating live performances in contemporary jazz.

I remember hearing him at the Brecon Jazz Festival when the band had to walk onstage straight from a nightmare plane and bus journey from the States all the way to the back of the Welsh beyond. Redman turned all that frustration and fatigue into scorching, turbulent and poetic music, confirming for all who were there the transforming and healing nature of art.

His latest CD is called Back East and is a tilt of the hat to Sonny Rollins' Way Out West disc. Like that, this is a trio disc - just saxophone, bass and drums. And that is just how we'll hear him on Friday - with Reuben Rogers on bass and Greg Hutchinson on drums.

Once upon a time a saxophone trio demanded a strong stomach from its audience. Now there seem to be a few around that are just plain thrilling.

The Julian Siegel Trio is one; the Julian Arguelles Trio is another. Friday's band is a certain bet in this regard.

Birmingham Jazz presents the Joshua Redman Trio at the Adrian Boult Hall, 8pm on Friday. Tickets are £14 (£10) from 0121 303 2323 or online via www.birminghamjazz.co.uk 

* Start Friday night early and take in the Rush Hour Blues session in the Symphony Hall foyer bar from 5.30pm with Las Vegas

Power Cut, jazz with a strong funk backbone from keyboardist Mark Lockett, bass player Trevor Lines and friends. It's free, and get there early if you want a seat. This is a Birmingham Jazz/Symphony Hall co-promotion.

Providing the bookends to the Redman concert are two gigs over in Coventry.

On Thursday singer Zoe Schwarz takes her quintet into the Biggin Hall pub, and on Saturday the fearsome Fraud test the limits of Taylor John's House.

Schwarz is a strong young singer who cites Billie Holiday as an influence and writes her own songs as well as interpreting the great jazz standards. Bass player in the band is Malcolm Creese, so the quality assurance is impeccable.

It starts at 8.30pm and it's £8 to get in. This is a Jazz Coventry gig.

Fraud are one of the most exciting of the new bands taking equal inspiration from free jazz and rough rock, with a powerful, punky attitude. Tickets are £5 in advance from www.tinangeltickets.co.uk or £6.50 on the door and it starts at 9pm.

For more details of both gigs go to www.jazzcov.co.uk

* Finally, good news for fans of Birmingham singer Patsy Fuller. She has her debut album, Rhapsody to Revelation, out now and is singing material from it at the Bearwood Corks Club on Thursday evening.

Doors open at 8.30pm, it's £4 (£3) to get in and you can find more on www.bearwoodjazz.co.uk n If you have any news or views you'd like to share, email me at peterbacon@mac.com The blog is at www.thejazzbreakfast.blogspot.com