The tendency for jazz singers to take on the added responsibility of song-writing can lead to disappointment.

After all, the great songs that have formed the basis of their art for the last 50 years and more were the results of some of the most brilliant writers in the music's history and have been further filtered and honed by the passing of time.

One singer who has turned performing her own songs into a virtue rather than a vice is Christine Tobin, and she will be road-testing her latest ones at the Polish Club on Saturday.

Tobin has a marvellously straight and natural way of singing - there are none of the tricks and mannerisms usually found in jazz singers, and little self-consciousness. Just a great range, a slight Irish lilt, and a dedication to communicating a story, a tune, an emotion.

She has pursued her own path consistently, not only writing striking lyrics and strong melodies, but also picking jazz standards and more recent songs, especially those of Leonard Cohen, with great canniness.

Her latest album, Secret Life Of A Girl (out now on the Babel label) is her strongest yet, all originals with the exception of Rufus Wainwright's Poses and Cohen and Sharon Robinson's Everybody Knows.

The band has her partner Phil Robson on guitar, Liam Noble on piano and cello and percussion in addition to drums and bass, and they act very much as a cohesive unit with Tobin's voice a striking lead voice but also one of the instruments.

This band will be with her at the Polish Club, a characterful new venue for Birmingham Jazz gigs, with good acoustics, interesting beers behind the bar and a warm atmosphere.

The Christine Tobin Band are on stage at 8pm on Saturday.

Tickets are available via theticketsellers. or can be reserved by emailing mary@ And they are available on the door of course.

Bargain at just £8.

Other gigs this week:

* Thursday: Danny Healy, a saxophonist from Australia, leads a quartet at the Bearwood Corks Club, Bearwood Road. The band starts at 9pm and it's £4 to get in. More on

* Friday: The Rush Hour Blues will be eased by the sound of the Morgan Brothers Sextet between 5.30pm and 7pm in the foyer bar at Symphony Hall - and all you have to pay for are your drinks.

And why not go on to the Town Hall - it's not jazz but gospel has the right links and both Birmingham's Black Voices and the London Adventist Chorale know how to swing in a righteous manner. Tickets are £15 and £20 from and it starts at 7.30pm.

* Sunday: Stratford Jazz, who hold their weekly sessions at the White Swan, welcome the Beebee Quintet, which has Chris Aldridge on saxophone, Bryan Corbett on trumpet, Levi French on piano, Roger Innis on bass and Neil Bullock on drums. Some of Birmingham's finest, then, in Shakespeare country.

It starts at 8pm and it's £5 to get in, but get there early - a full house is expected. More on