The Silvershine Jazz Club, the new name for the jazz club that has been running in Bearwood for decades, has always put on something special at Christmas, and this year is no exception.
The marvellous tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins is the guest tonight (Thursday) with the regular Silvershine house band, The Blue Notes. It’s a combination which was always close to the heart of the late Andy Hamilton, Silvershine’s and The Blue Notes’ founder.
And Andy is not the only late, lamented jazz giant the musicians and the audience will be remembering this evening: Wellins is probably best known for his appearance on Stan Tracey’s much-loved jazz suite Under Milkwood, and it’s an album which makes a particularly poignant listen so soon after the death of its pianist leader.
Bobby Wellins has had a long and remarkably consistent career in British jazz. Born in Glasgow in 1936, he started saxophone lessons at 12, with encouragement from his sax-playing father and singer mother, and then honed his technique in the RAF and with various Palais bands.
His discography ranges over five decades now, and highlights include his 1996 instrumental interpretation of Billie Holiday’s Lady In Satin album, called The Satin Album. He has always had an afinity for female jazz singers and has been a particularly supportive player on recordings by Claire Martin and Liane Carroll.
His collaborations with fellow tenor saxophonist Don Weller have been favourites, both in live performance and on record, and the drummer Spike Wells has been another long-term collaborator.
Wellins has a gloriously rich and characterful tone on the tenor saxophone, and is always a pleasure to listen to.
Bobby Wellins and The Blue Notes will be playing at the Bearwood Corks Club, 558 Bearwood Road, Smethwick B66 4BT, from 9pm tonight (Thursday) (doors open at 8.30pm). Tickets are £8.
Bobby is also giving a saxophone workshop between 5pm and 7pm. Saxophonists of all levels will benefit, but there are only 20 places, so email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately to see if there are still spaces. This costs £15 but includes entry into the gig.
Find out more at www.bearwoodjazz.co.uk
* Andy Hamilton’s legacy is on the stand for all to see on Friday as well. The Notebenders, the community big band Andy formed, is playing Jazzlines’ Free Jazz session in the Symphony Hall cafe bar.
The band is a multi-generational one and plays a wide range of music. It has some strong saxophone soloists and more than one fine young drummer.
The Notebenders, co-led by John Fleming and Andy Bunting, will be playing from 5pm. Entry to this one is free. There is more at www.thsh.co.uk/jazzlines
* Next week it will be time to look back at the year in jazz in Birmingham, and I’ll choose my highlight gigs, as well as make some recommendations for CDs you might like to treat yourselves to.