The pianist John Taylor is in Birmingham on Saturday with his trio and a special guest, and this is cause for great celebration.

Not that razzmatazz, bunting and cheering conga lines would go down particularly well with Taylor. The Mancunian has a dry, deadpan manner, but behind this almost self-effacing façade lies one of the greatest jazz pianists this country has produced and certainly of his generation.

A browse through his extensive discography reveals not only a lengthy career but also one of impeccable taste and judgement.

He has long been associated with band leaders like John Surman and Kenny Wheeler, but it is only more recently that he has started to concentrate on recordings in his own name.

On stage with him at the CBSO Centre on Saturday will be the double bassist Palle Danielsson and the drummer Martin France, his current recording partners, and for part of the evening they will be joined by Lichfield-born saxophonist Julian Arguelles.

If I were John Motson, I would now give you some fairly useless trivia - like the fact that John played piano on Julian's debut disc Phaedrus, on the Ah-um label and currently unavailable. Actually, being a jazz Motty doesn't feel so bad after all.

The trio alone will be more than worth the price of the ticket - their second disc together reveals a band of astonishing empathy with a very particular and attractive group sound.

A special word for Martin France. The man is so hard working and so in demand that we end up seeing and hearing him in a concert situation quite a few times in a year. There is the resultant danger that we take him for granted.

He is one of the most consistently creative musicians in the business and has achieved that very difficult balancing act of playing quite busily while never taking the focus away from other players when they are soloing. And just imagine how great it must be to solo over him - if anyone can prod a player on to greater things it is Mr France.

Not that Taylor, Danielsson and Arguelles need prodding when it comes to great things.

The John Taylor Trio with Julian Arguelles are presented by Birmingham Jazz at the CBSO Centre on Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are £12 (£9 Birmingham Jazz members and concessions) and are available from 0121 767 4050 or via

ALSO THIS WEEK - Tomorrow: The Pete Harris Band is this month's Birmingham Jazz act at the Jam House, in St Paul's Square. The music starts at about 9.30pm. This is a very nice space in which to listen to music and get together with friends, and as the entry is free you really have no excuse.

Thursday: Kinda Dukish - big band that plays (surprise, surprise) some Ellington classics - at the Bearwood Corks Club, doors open at 8.30pm and the music starts at 9pm. £4 (£3 concs). For more, call 0121 455 9454 or go to

Saturday: George Huxley evokes the spirit of Sidney Bechet at the Waterworks Jazz Club, United Services Club in Gough Street (not far from the Alex Theatre). Members pay £7 and non-members just a buck more. Start time is 8.30pm. Details on 0121 354 6059/0121 475 4461 or on

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