Fizzle and TDE Promotions have an exciting programme coming up in the first three months of 2019 as does the Jazzlines Programme in the same period. I outline the key gigs here.
Fizzle starts its 2019 programme in January with two rather special gigs at the Lamp Tavern: the first on Tuesday 15th January features improvising pianist Veryan Weston with drummer/percussionist Yusuf Ahmed and two brilliant string players, Hannah Marshall on cello and Pei Ann Yeoh on violin. Pei Ann is from Malaysia, studied on the jazz course at Birmingham Conservatoire and is now completing a PhD at Kings College London. She was always a fine player while in Birmingham, but has really blossomed in London where she has been a member of the London Improvisers’ Orchestra. It will be great to hear her back in Birmingham. The music of the quartet is improvised, but leans towards folk rather than jazz.
The second gig, also at the Lamp Tavern, this time on Tuesday 29th January, features the Not On The Guest List duo of Natalie Sandtorv and Ole Mofjell on vocals and drums. They will be over from Copenhagen for several days setting up a special event for Fizzle working with Andy Woodhead on keys and electronics and Lee Griffiths on alto sax. I heard Not On The Guest List a year or so ago and loved the energy of their interactions and think that this project with Andy and Lee will create some amazing music.
Fizzle continues its collaboration with the Flatpack Film Festival on Tuesday 5th February with an evening of short silent films to which key improvisers from the Birmingham scene will react to the films in live performance. The first in December at Centrala was a great success and drew a very healthy crowd. This one takes place at Artefact at 1464 Pershore Road, Stirchley, B30 2NT.
Fizzle gigs take every other Tuesday in the Lamp Tavern (excellent beers!) in Barford Street off Sherlock Street, B5 6AH. On 12th February it is Mick Beck and Philip Marks, plus Sarah Jane Summers, and on February it is a group put together by bass player Shivraj Singh featuring Xhosa Cole, Harry Weir, Will Markham Rob Harper-Charles and a second group led by bass player Si Paton called Machete Squad.
These gigs take place more or less monthly, usually, but not always, in the Hexagon Theatre at mac, an intimate venue with great acoustics that works well for improvised music. The January February March programme is probably the strongest I have put on yet.
It begins on Thursday 24th January in the Hexagon Theatre with Cleveland Watkiss’ Allstars featuring Cleveland on vocals, Jason Yarde on sax, Orphy Robinson on vibes and electronics, Neil Charles on bass and electronics and Mark Sanders on drums. That really is an allstar band and its music draws on the diversity of music in UK today, jazz, improv, soul, rap. Cleveland describes their music as ‘a sonic blend that could only come from the cosmopolitan epicentre of the world, that is the UK’
The second TDE Promotion in the Hexagon Theatre comes on Tuesday 19th February when the Riot Ensemble make their Birmingham debut. They are an ensemble that specialises in contemporary music, and on this occasion with key improvisers from the UK. They have commissioned two pieces, one with the Evan Parker/Alex Hawkins Duo and the other for Kit Downes’ ENEMY.
March sees two TDE Promotions. The first involves a number of UK trombone and brass players led by trombonist Richard Foote working with American trombonist Jacob Garchik to recreate the music of Garchik’s Gospel Trombone Choir. That group recorded a wonderful album entitled The Heavens of brass interpretations of gospel songs and the project will interpret the music of that album. This project is a co-promotion with Jazzlines and will take place on Saturday 16th March at the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street. It will also play Sheffield at the Yellow Arch on Sunday 17th March and London Vortex on Monday 18th.
Then back at the Hexagon Theatre on Thursday March 28th TDE Promotions will present Uncanny Valley, a trio with Tom Challenger on sax, Phil Donkin on bass and Oliver Steidle on drums. Both Phil and Oliver are based in Berlin.
The Fizzle and TDE Promotions gigs work closely together and receive funding from the Arts Council. For Fizzle gigs it’s pay on the door, whereas the TDE gigs can be booked at https://macbirmingham.co.uk/whats-on/music. The Jacob Garchik gig can be booked at https://www.thsh.co.uk/event/jacob-garchik-trombone-choir. The Fizzle site is at www.fizzlebirmingham.com.
By coincidence Jazzlines is presenting a new project by Trevor Watkis, the brother of Cleveland Watkiss, just two days after Cleveland’s gig at the mac. His project takes place on Saturday 26th January at the CBSO Centre and focusses on the music of trumpeter Dizzy Reece, a fine player who went off to hone his skills in the US back in the 1950s. His music will be celebrated with a fine group with Byron Wallen on trumpet, saxophonist Ralph Moore, another fine UK player who settled and made his name in the US, plus two Americans, Dezron Douglas on bass and Willie Jones III on drums.
The Friday foyer sessions start on 11th January at 5pm with a band led by trumpeter Ray Butcher; this has to take place in Hall 5 in the ICC rather than the usual foyer area. On the second week, 18th January, Jazzlines has something rather special: Handswoth born but now Georgia USA based singer Julie Dexter makes a very rare appearance in her home town with a group that features Soweto Kinch on alto sax. That’s back on the foyer at 5pm.
Jazzlines had great success in autumn 2018 with the co-promotions with Leftfoot at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath. One of the biggest successes was with the Ezra Collective group and its pianist Joe Armon-Jones returns to the Hare on Sunday 3rd February with his own project and band.
Then Tin Men and the Telephone return to the Birmingham Conservatoire to play the Eastside Jazz Club on 7th February. More on that later.
Details of all Jazzlines events can be found at https://www.thsh.co.uk/whats-on/category/jazz-and-blues.