The Friday night jazz sessions at Symphony Hall return this Friday at 5.30 after a long break during the lockdown period, and they return to a new, specially designed venue up one floor from the original foyer in what is named the Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space. The new venue was used during the Jazzlines Summer School and JazzFest, and is looking and sounding good.
The Friday night sessions are a legendary part of the Birmingham music scene; they have been going since 2004, and have created a warm, welcoming atmosphere that has always attracted good audiences over the years. I always remember the first session when we booked Bryan Corbett and his then quartet. We had no idea whether a session at 5.30 would attract an audience, but were delighted when a large audience turned up, and really enjoyed both the music and the informal atmosphere of the event. They have been coming ever since in large numbers. There are various reasons for this: the music has always been varied and the audience know that if one week they are less keen on the band, there will be a different one the following week; also, a community has grown up among the regulars at the session. People enjoy meeting friends as well as the music itself. Finally, the informality means that people can sit and enjoy a drink while listening to the music.
I think it is probably right to say that the sucess of these events encouraged management at Symphony Hall to plan and build the new space, which will be used for various types of event as well as the Jazzlines Friday sessions.
The first session (this Friday, 25th September) will feature Reuben Reynolds, a young guitarist that has impressed in the various groups he has appeared with at Symphony Hall and other venues round the city. Jazzlines has been encouraging him for some time to form his own group, so we are delighted that he has finally done so. It is a strong group that features local hero Xhosa Cole on saxophone, and an excellent drummer in Chris Russell.
This particular session will begin at 5.30 and will run to 7, but future sessions will begin at the earlier time of 5pm and run to 6.30. They will run nearly every Friday with a few exceptions, and a list of the bands booked will be available this Friday. Entrance is free, but you do need to book a ticket in order to come. You can do this online at https://bmusic.co.uk/events/housewarming-reuben-reynolds