Those of a nostalgic frame of mind might claim that the jazz of yesteryear had more larger than life characters among its players and that those players had much more character in the sound they made.
One important figure in modern British jazz who contradicts that theory is the grizzly bear of tenor saxophonists, Don Weller.
His rich, gruff sound and warmly romantic lyricism make him one of the most distinctive players around and he is at the Biggin Hall pub, Binley Road, Coventry on Thursday.
Don goes back a long way and appeared in the legendary arranger Gil Evans’ UK jazz orchestra, as well as playing with Stan Tracey and Harry Beckett.
The recent Three Tenors disc, which set Weller up against Mornington Lockett and Art Themen, showed Don to be enjoying something of a golden period, his sound ever more dignified, his improvisations ever richer in melodic insights.
For this Jazz Coventry gig, he is joined by the John Donaldson Trio – the 2006 British Jazz Awards winner on piano, Andy Cleyndert on bass and Dave Barry on drums.
A classy band, then, in a good jazz room. It starts at 8.30pm and tickets are £10 on the door or in advance from Coventry Tourist Information Centre 024 7622 7264. More at jazzcov.co.uk
Talking of characters, guitarist John Etheridge is also in a class of one. He is a player of remarkable flexibility, able to fit in with Stephane Grapelli or explore the music of Frank Zappa.
And, of course, his is a talent much admired by fellow plectrum-wielders, Pat Metheny having called him “one of the best guitarists in the world”.
John is at the Newhampton Arts Centre Dunkley Street, Wolverhampton on Sunday and is joined by special guest Kit Holmes, a gutsy singer and a guitarist of note.
Not only are John and Kit offering a concert (7pm), they are also holding a guitar workshop at 5.45pm. Take along your acoustic guitar and you can gain some tips from the experts.
Tickets for the concert cost £12 and the workshop is £5. A ticket for concert and workshop is £14 (£13 concessions). Ring 01902 572090 to book.
For lovers of Dixie and New Orleans styles, Waterworks Jazz Club offers Richard Leach’s Clubhouse Five on Saturday evening (8.30pm).
The strong line-up of Midland musicians including Gordon Whitworth (trumpet) and Norman Field on reeds, and the Waterworks now meets at the Nautical Club, Bishopsgate Street, Birmingham. Members £7, non-members £8 and information is on 0121 354 6059 or waterworksjazz.com