A Weekend of Varied Music In Birmingham: From Hard Bop to Heavy Metal

I really enjoyed the gig with the Tobie Carpenter Quartet at the Jazzlines foyer session at Symphony Hall last Friday.  The session has been running for nearly 20 years and attracts a large audience of up to 360 people every week to a session that runs in the early evening from 5 to 6.30 on the Friday.  It is a free entry session, but the audience is always generous in its donations.

nadim teimooriThe Tobie Carpenter Quartet is perfect for the session playing really swinging, uncomplicated music in a guitar, organ, saxophone and drums line up.  It has the feel of Blue Note jazz of the 60s and Tobie’s guitar playing is influenced in this context by the playing of Wes Montgomery.  But most of the material is original, written by Tobie.  The group also featured Dave Ferris on organ, David Ingamells on drums and Nadim Teimoori on tenor saxophone.  The latter was particularly impressive playing inventive solos with constantly fresh ideas that fitted the material really well.

Tobie tells me that they have a quartet album coming out later this year and Nadim should be back at Symphony Hall in another context before too long.

Saturday night was the second night at Centrala of the Thinking/Not Thinking Festival curated by Si Paton.  His aim is to bring together different genres and thereby show that they all fit together well and attract an audience with open ears and a willingness to broaden their taste.  Saturday night was an excellent example beginning with the ambient group J Frisco, a trio with soprano sax, keys and electric bass with everyone contributing vocals.  The mood was initially quite gentle, but, as the set progressed, they brought in heavier elements, particularly on the bass.  In a sense their set typified the whole approach of the day.  They were followed by a heavy metal set from The Guts, that was not only very heavy, but also theatrical with constant dramatic movement from the two guitarists and the keyboard player.  steve tromansThey were followed by a trio led by Steve Tromans on keyboard, Ash Trigg on electric bass and Tymek Jozwiak on drums.  From personal communication I know that Steve was concerned about following The Guts, and was wondering how his set could fit the overall vibe of the evening and keep up the intensity levels.  The trio succeeded at this magnificently.  The set began with Tymek and Ash laying down a groove that really built up the mood; Steve was biding his time waiting for the right time to come in.  This extended for quite a time and one began to wonder when he would come in!  But when he did, his building of excitement through dramatic statements and repeated clusters of notes was just right.  This was the pattern throughout the set with the mood set by the swirling rhythms of bass and drums and the powerful interventions from Steve.

Bus timetables meant I missed the final set of the night.  Thinking/Not Thinking has taken place from Friday to Sunday and certainly has legs as a festival.

The photo of Steve Tromans was taken by Garry Corbett.


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