Back in the relatively sunny spring (can you remember back that far, to a time when a bright yellow orb hung in the sky for more than a few minutes at a time?), there was that messy divorce between Birmingham Jazz’s staff and directors (the former went on to Arts Council funding and a nurturing arm from THSH, you will remember, while the latter retained the BJ name, little visible means of support and vowed to return to its roots).
At the time, I suggested that, after all the heartache had softened to a dull discomfort, perhaps the presence of both organisations in the city would indicate a double win for the non-partisan jazz fan.
And so, as the the wet summer is slowly giving way to soggy autumn, I am delighted to report, it has come to pass.
Starting very soon is a season stretching from Autumn Leaves to Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most that is filled with delights of every kind. There are big name visitors in a concert setting, old favourites upstairs in pubs, and lots of other goodies in between.
Up first with their 2012/13 programme was Jazzlines, the fresh organisation masterminded by former BJ staffers Tony Dudley Evans and Mary Wakelam as part of THSH in the city.
They have some stellar names to tempt us, with autumn concerts by the Wayne Shorter Quartet (Town Hall, Thu 1 Nov), the Jack DeJohnette Quintet (Adrian Boult Hall, Tue 20 Nov), and The Impossible Gentlemen (CBSO Centre, Sat 1 Dec).
For the more adventurous the remarkable Norwegian improv ensemble Supersilent teams up with Led Zep’s John Paul Jones (Town Hall, Wed 14 Nov) while fans of jazz singing will find much to delight in a double bill on Claire Martin and Sara Colman (CBSO Centre, Fri 12 Oct).
There are some predictable returning names – yep, Ken Vandermark (again!) – but there is also the Jazzlines thumbs-up to the pub scene, in the form of support for the excellent work Mike Fletcher is doing at The Spotted Dog in Digbeth every Tuesday night. Jazzlines will give some monetary aid to revive the old star soloist with local rhythm team tradition, Peter King being the first invitee.
There is more about all these gigs and many more here.
Meanwhile, Birmingham Jazz certainly hasn’t been sitting on its hands, with an excellent programme running through into next year and based around more intimate pub venues.
Among the highlights are saxophonist Gilad Atzmon’s Power Cats, which includes Hammond ace Ross Stanley (Barton Arms, Sun 23 Sep), Christine Tobin singing Leonard Cohen and others, with Phil Robson and Dave Whitford (Red Lion, Sun 7 Oct), the John Law Trio, including the brilliant bassist Yuri Goloubev (Red Lion, Sun 28 Oct) and the Great Wee Band, including guitarist Jim Mullen and trumpeter Henry Lowther (Red Lion, Sun 11 Nov).
Guitarist Mike Walker (one of Jazzlines’ Impossible Gents) also features in the BJ programme, alongside his old Manchester mucker Iain Dixon (Barton Arms, Fri 1 Feb) and saxophonist Tony Kofi is back with his Standard Time Trio (Red Lion, Fri 11 Jan).
More about these and BJ’s Friday evening free-to-members “club” gigs here.
And congratulations to both organisations for all the hard work and inspiration that has gone into giving us all so much to look forward to.