PREVIEW: Live highlights in January the West Midlands - by Peter Bacon

Three Step Manoeuvre (L-R) Ben Lee, Oscar Reynolds, David Ferris
(Photo © James Banner)

Our new man a bit further north, Editor-at-Large Peter Bacon, picks a few gigs worth catching on his home turf this month. Peter writes:

As an introduction to what is going on in the English Midlands I will be giving LJN readers a brief summing-up of each month’s live highlights with variations regarding location, though generally I’ll be concentrating on the West Midlands and Birmingham in particular.

For January I’ve chosen five home team fixtures and five from visitors, with a couple of wild cards thrown in at the end.

Home games first:

Today Friday 6 January

Elliott Sansom Trio
, presented by Birmingham Jazz at The Red Lion, Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham: Elliott is the rising pianist in the flat cap who studied at Birmingham Conservatoire and might have come to your attention as a finalist in the BBC Young Jazz Musician of 2016 contest. He will be exploring his own compositions inspired by John Taylor and Paul Bley among others, as well as his jazz interpretations of classical pieces and standards, along with Ben Muirhead on double bass and Nathan England Jones on drums. It starts at 7.45pm prompt.

More at Birmingham Jazz website

Thursday 12 January

Three Step Manoeuvre
plus Harry Weir Quintet, COGS Bar, Newhall Street, Birmingham: The lively jazz-rock-funk of Manoeuvre men David Ferris on organ, Ben Lee on guitar and Oscar Reynolds on drums demands more rhythmic moving of the limbs and sign language in lieu of chat. The trio has an album out called Three Step Strut. These regular Thursday evenings last into the early hours.

More about the band at Three Step Manoeuvre

Tuesday 17 January

Butternut
, presented by Jazzlines at The Jam House, St Paul’s Square, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham: Bassists in Birmingham have to wear many hats (perhaps that is true in London too) and Stuart Barker is a familiar holder of the double bass low-lands in many bands around the city. Here he gets to play electric and synth bass and ead a group with neo-soul leanings. Keyboard player David Austin Grey and vocalist Lucinda Fosker assist. This free-entry gig starts at 8.30pm.

More at Jazzlines

Tuesday 17/Friday 20 January

Chris Young’s Orbits
, Jazz At The Spotted Dog, Warwick Street, Digbeth (17), and Birmingham Jazz at The Red Lion, Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter (20), Birmingham: Alto saxophonist Chris Young is another ubiquitous player on the Birmingham scene (and the original flat-cap wearer). Here he introduces a new quintet with Lluis Mather on tenor, Thomas Seminar Ford on guitar, Nick Jurd on bass and Euan Palmer on drums. Twice the chance to hear this band in this week. 9pm at the Dog, 7.45pm at the Lion.

More at Jazz At The Spotted Dog and Birmingham Jazz

Friday 27 January

Steve Ajao’s Blues Giants, presented Jazzlines in Symphony Hall cafe bar, Birmingham: They were called the Rush Hour sessions, now they are the Jazzlines Free Gigs, but whatever you call them these early Friday evening concert hall foyer gigs are hugely popular. Each year the audience has a chance to vote for the band they want to play the Poll Winners Gig, and the popular Birmingham-based guitarist (well in this band, he also plays saxophone) is this year’s winner.

More at Jazzlines

And now for the visitor fixtures:

Dave Manington's Riff Raff
L-R: Brigitte Beraha, Tim Giles, Dave Manington,
Tom Challenger, Ivo Neame 


Tuesday 10 January

Dave Manington’s Riff Raff
, Jazz At The Spotted Dog, Warwick Street, Digbeth, Birmingham: Free elements meet song forms in this wide-ranging band led by the bassist and including Phronesis pianist Ivo Neame and vocalist Brigitte Beraha.

More at Jazz At The Spotted Dog

Friday 13 January

Babelfish
, Birmingham Jazz at The Red Lion, Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham: The upstairs pub venue is a suitably intimate setting for this quartet co-led by vocalist Brigitte Beraha (two Brum visits in four days!) and pianist Barry Green.

More at Birmingham Jazz

Wednesday 18 January

Dinosaur
, Jazzlines at The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham: A legendary venue in Birmingham’s musical history (UB40 played their first gig here in 1979) plays host to surely a legendary band in the making, playing music from their much-lauded Edition Records debut album Together, As One.

More at Jazzlines

Tuesday 24 January

Rachael Cohen Quartet
, Jazz At The Spotted Dog, Warwick Street, Digbeth, Birmingham: The alto saxophonist returns to one of the regular haunts of her student days, with Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Ferg Ireland on bass and Shane Forbes on drums. More at Jazz At The Spotted Dog

Wednesday 25 January

Primitive London, presented by TDE Promotions at The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham: Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Jazzlines programme advisor Tony Dudley-Evans has turned promoter over the last 18 months for occasional gigs by bands he is particularly interested in, and this Anglo-French, genre-hopping group sums up his wide-eared approach. Saxophonist Robin Fincker, trumpeter Antoine Bearjeaut, keyboard player Kit Downes and vibraphonist Jim Hart have Juice Aleem as guest rapper and Birmingham hip-hop/jazzers Delta Autumn provide support.
See interview with Jim Hart

Friday 27 January 

Also this month: the one-day Emulsion Festival, masterminded by Trish Clowes and hosted by Fiona Talkington, comes to the mac Birmingham, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, on Friday 27 January. More at mac Birmingham - Read Also Trish Clowes' preview

For more detailed listings of Birmingham jazz events look out for a copy of the bi-monthly Jazz In Birmingham leaflet, or go to Jazz In Birmingham

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