PREVIEW: Birmingham Jazz presents Crossing Boundaries (3 & 5 November 2017)

Lourdes Fernandez
Picture courtesy Birmingham Jazz
The small Birmingham Jewellery Quarter-based, volunteer-driven organisation is becoming a major supplier of compact jazz festivals. Its latest mixes jazz with other genres. Peter Bacon browses the programme.


It may be small with no visible means of support other than some fee-paying members and the occasional event-specific fillip from local business, educational institutions or an Arts Council grant-for-the-arts, but Birmingham Jazz (BJ) doesn't half give good bang in return for those modest bucks. I might have lost track but I think this is their fourth mini-festival in 2017!

Crossing Boundaries is described as a "weekend celebration of jazz with other art forms" and it takes place mainly on Sunday 5 November, with a linked concert in its regular Friday evening slot on 3 November.

The programme takes in dance, both Flamenco and Tango, as well as Carnatic song. It is bookended by quartet performances by Christine Tobin and Huw Warren, both with strong literary links.

Here is the programme:

Christine Tobin Quartet - Now based in New York, Christine never fails to include a Birmingham Jazz date when she is on this side of the Atlantic. Her musical settings have now added words from  Herman Melville and William Morris to those of Leonard Cohen and W.B. Yeats, and she has Phil Robson on guitar, Dave Whitford on bass and Gareth Lockrane on flute. The venue is BJ's new home,  1000 Trades on Frederick Street, and it's at 7.45pm on Friday 3 November.

Demi Garcia Sabat & Lourdes Fernandez - A pair of Flamenco workshops with the dancer and percussionist, and a fine primer regarding the techniques and history behind its performance. Blue Orange Theatre, Great Hampton Street, 11am and 6.30pm on Sunday 5 November.

Almagro Ensemble - A Tango group which draws musicians from the folk, jazz and classical spheres. Violinist Lucy Waterhouse's CV includes the band Tango Volcano and the Oslo Philharmonic; Bartok Glowacki, on badoneon, is a former Polish Young Musician of the Year; guitarist Chris Allard has played with the BBC Big Band and the Fugata Ensemble; pianist John Turville has played in many jazz groups and a couple of Tango ones too; and bassist Tom Mason's work has included Ghostpoet anbd Questlove as well as Tango Siempre. Blue Orange Theatre, 12.30pm on Sunday 5 November.

Asaf Sirkis & Friends - Another old friend of BJ, percussionist Asaf Sirkis explores his new passion for Carnatic song and percussion with three of the best-known performers of this music in the UK: Smt. Gayathri on veena, Shri Kirupakaran on mridangam, and Shri R N Prakash on ghatam.    Blue Orange Theatre, 2.30pm on Sunday 5 November.

Jazzolea - This jazz Flamenco group brings together musicians from Seville, Barcelona and London and they are equally at home in blues festivals, jazz clubs or dance spectaculars. Esther Weeks is the  jazz vocalist/Flamenco dancer, with Cristian de Moret on Flamenco voice and piano, Pablo Pradas on Flamenco and bass guitar, David Chupete on percussion and Demi Garcia Sabat on drums. Blue Orange Theatre, 4.30pm on Sunday 5 November.

Huw Warren: Dylan Thomas - Do Not Go Gentle - The Swansea-born pianist and composer presents his jazz suite which was commissioned for the Dylan Thomas centenary year and has been touring since its world premiere at the Brecon Jazz Festival. Huw is on piano, with Iain Ballamy on saxophone, Steve Watts on bass and Martin France on drums.

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