Of the many excellent regular jazz nights around the city, top marks for hipness of setting has to go to the Monday sessions trumpeter/bassist Percy Pursglove and drummer Andrew Bain have established at Yorks Bakery Cafe, at the Colmore Row end of Newhall Street.
Yorks Bakery is the kind of independent coffee shop Birmingham has been sorely in need of for a very long time; you’d not be surprised to find a whole bunch of places like this in London or Manchester, but for far too long our city centre has been too dominated by the chains.
And not only are the coffee and cakes great, Yorks is now doing pizza, with a two for the price of one offer on Monday evenings to go along with some classy jazz.
Percy and Andrew go way back. Both have studied both in the UK and New York, and both are on the faculty of Birmingham Conservatoire’s jazz course. Their contact books are vast and crazy would be the musician who would pass up an opportunity to play with them, so the band at Yorks changes each week but the standard is consistently high.
The first of the main jazz organisations in Birmingham to get going after festive break has been Jonathan Silk’s Jazz at The Spotted Dog, who had the veteran trumpeter Henry Lowther there earlier this week in trombonist Jeremy Price’s band. Next Tuesday it’s the Jim Bashford Trio with Bashford leading from the drums, Tim Lapthorn on piano and Arnie Somogyi on double bass.
This is a very strong line-up indeed. Somogyi is one of the country’s leading bassists and was recently heard leading his own band playing the music of Charles Mingus at the CBSO Centre, and he’ll be back at The Spotted Dog in February leading a Mingus Big Band.
Lapthorn is a highly respected pianist and his Seventh Sense album (with Somogyi on bass) is on the Basho Records label.
Bashford is not only one of the nicest men in British jazz, he is a player of great versatility.
When I bumped into him a few months back and asked what he’d been up to I discovered he’d just returned from touring with psychedelic rock band Caravan with David Sinclair.
He is a regular drummer with countless jazz groups, but finds himself in charge this time.
Finally, Birmingham Jazz is back in action tomorrow with another drummer-led band, the Lydia Glanville Quartet.
With Lydia on drums are Ben Thomas on trumpet, Steve Tromans on piano and Trevor Lines on bass. The band is firmly rooted in jazz but takes in some world folk influences. As this is one of BJ’s Club Nights, members get in for free; everyone else pays £5. The Lydia Glanville Quartet is at The Red Lion on Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter, from 7.45pm. More at www.birminghamjazz.co.uk