Should it be worrying that arguably our finest jazz musician of the last 25 years has found more lucrative employment outside the United Kingdom?
Is Django Bates like those Titian masterpieces being bought by a foreign collector?
Well, I suppose if, like Simon Rattle, he pops back occasionally it’s all OK.
And pop back he does – on Friday to the CBSO Centre.
This is not just a chance to hear Django Bates – this is a chance to hear stoRMChaser, the big band of musicians and singers he has assembled at Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory where he is now professor.
His latest CD, Spring Is Here (Shall We Dance?), features this band and is the most developed example yet of Django’s expansive musical style.
He doesn’t just write great tunes and provide fruitful opportunities for improvising musicians, he writes some of the most complex yet accessible arrangements in jazz or any other styles of music. And now he incorporates singers, lyrics and a pop sensibility, too.
This band, one minute Brazilian carnival troupe, the next a holy choir or West African guitar and sax group, is astounding on disc so the heart stops at the thought of how exciting it will be in the flesh.
Bates packs more ideas into a few minutes of one tune than most composers use in a few decades. And the fact that the musicians he is working with are current students or past graduates of the Conservatory means he can work with them constantly and so hone them to an incredibly tight unit while still somehow giving the whole thing a spontaneous air.
As a player, Django Bates is the only electronic keyboardist I have heard since Joe Zawinul to have managed to create such a personal sound on the instrument. And his improvisational style is also singularly original.
I know the Bates fans will be beating a path to the CBSO on Friday, but I urge you, even if jazz is not normally your music of choice, to try this concert – whether you like it or not, I can guarantee you will be amazed. And you will find out so much more about sheep.
Django Bates and the stoRMChaser Big Band are at the CBSO Centre on Friday at 8pm. Tickets are £15 from thsh.co.uk or on 0121 767 4050.
It’s a pity the BBC Big Band is also playing on Friday – otherwise they could have come along to the stoRMChaser gig to pick up some tips. Ah, well…
They are at the Town Hall doing one of their Radio 2 Big Band Special recordings and have singer Ian Shaw as guest and Jiggs Whigham as conductor.
It starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £19.50 to £12.50, also available from thsh.co.uk or on 0121 780 3333.
Tonight there is a chance to see Silvershine, the TV documentary about Andy Hamilton made in 1988 on the occasion of Andy’s 80th birthday. It was shot around Birmingham and shows Andy and his band in rehearsal and performance. This free showing is at Birmingham Central Library Theatre at 6.30pm and there is a Q and A with filmmakers Sunandan and Yugesh Walia afterwards. Andy might even be there. The bar is open from 7.30pm.
Jazz Coventry was one of the losers in the last round of Arts Council grant cuts, but on Sunday it springs back to life with the Alan Barnes Octet playing the music of Duke Ellington.
Alan is as eloquent a saxophonist as you’ll find anywhere and has the added advantage of being the epitome of the good bloke.
Joining him in the sax section are Tony Coe and Andy Panayi, and others in the band include Bruce Adams on trumpet, John Horler on piano and Alec Dankworth on bass.
This is not Ellington in aspic – this is the great man’s music as a springboard for some fine contemporary playing while staying true to the spirit of the originals.
This is the first of three good Jazz Coventry autumn gigs, the others being Andy Sheppard and The Luna-tics on November 3 and Matthew Bourne on November 23.
The Alan Barnes Octet are at Warwick Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre at 7.45pm and tickets are £14 from warwickartscentre.co.uk or on 024 7652 4524. Not only great music but a chance to help Jazz Coventry get back on its feet.