Never mind TGIF, how about TFFV? That’s Thank Friday for Variety.

There’s something for everyone, but one sure place to start with Sara Colman and her band playing the free Rush Hour Blues session in the Symphony Hall. It starts at 5.30pm and Sara will be singing the fine songs from her classy new CD Ready.

From there, which way you go will depend upon your jazz taste.


If your heart skips a bit when Street Life brightens the usual supermarket muzak selection, stay where you are for Randy Crawford and Joe Sample in the Symphony Hall. This is sure to be smooth, but the inclusion of Steve Gadd on drums is something of a temptation. It starts at 8pm and tickets are at or 0121 780 3333.


 If some European jazz of an exceptionally high standard and a trio which takes risks sounds more your thing, head north. Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen, Italian drummer Paolo Vinaccia and Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith are touring on the back of their new ECM disc recorded live at Oslo’s Belleville club and are at Lichfield’s Guildhall at 8.30pm.

Exceptional players with an astonishing rapport – they are playing the London Jazz Festival but you only need to go as far as Lichfield. Tickets from 01543 262223 or at


 If you want to see what a hang looks and sounds like, head south to the Hare & Hounds, in Kings Heath. The Portico Quartet have brought this instrument – sounds like a cross between a steel pan and a marimba – to the attention of the jazz world, and earned a Mercury Prize nomination in the process.

Tickets from or call 0844 870 0000. It starts at 8pm.


 Before that Friday feast, check out the John Randall Band on Wednesday at the Rainbow down in Digbeth. This drummer-led outfit won the Dave Holland Jazz Ensemble Prize at Birmingham Conservatoire and have recorded with Phil Robson. A strong groove with some edge to it and heartily recommended.

Tickets on the door and the band start at 9.15pm.


 Finally, on Saturday it’s happy birthday to Stan Sulzmann. The saxophonist stalwart of many a fine big band, collaborator with everyone from Graham Collier to Gwilym Simcock, is now entering his 60th year, and has been the man to call on for 40 of those.

We’ve had relatively few opportunities to hear him out front in the Midlands, but this time he is very much out front, with the Heritage Orchestra behind him.

Pop along to the CBSO Centre at 8pm and help Stan blow those candles out. This is a Birmingham Jazz project and exclusive to Birmingham. Tickets from or on 0121 767 4050.