The week ahead in Midlands jazz gigs

Sophisticated jazz aids the digestion. It’s a proven fact – well, in my house it is.

This evening you can put the theory to the test if there are still places available. Gumbles Jazz Club in association with The Front Room in Stafford is offering lucky diners the chance to do just that with the wonderful singer and pianist Liane Carroll.

Tickets for Liane and a three-course dinner are just £23.95. Arrive 7pm for 7.30pm and Liane will be on stage at 9.30pm.

The Front Room is at St Mary’s Mews, Stafford ST16 2AR and advance booking is essential, so call 01785 249995 now.

If you are disappointed by the house full sign in Stafford, never fear, there is always jazz at The Yardbird in Paradise Place on Thursday evenings, courtesy of Sam Marchant and Ray Butcher. Tonight they have trombonist Will Rumney on the stand. Starts around 9pm and entry is free.

Tomorrow the Notebenders, the band inspired by the late Andy Hamilton and which made its debut back in 2007, is playing the last  Free Jazz early evening session before Christmas. It’s in the Symphony Hall foyer and starts at 5pm. Entry is free.

From there, head out to the Ort Cafe in Balsall Heath where the Gareth Fowler Quartet – Fowler on guitar, Lluis Mather on saxophone and clarinet, Percy Pursglove on double bass and Euan Palmer on drums – will be playing new music written by Gareth. It starts at 8.30pm and entry is free, with donations gratefully received. More at www.blambirmingham.co.uk

On Sunday there is a choice of small band fusion or big choir gospel.

The small band stuff comes from double bassist Tom Hill’s Straitjackets, with Andy Shillingford on saxophone, Pete Harris on guitar, Al Gurr on piano and Neil Bullock on drums. It’s a Christmas Special and who better to get that festive feel going than the larger-than-life Mr Hill? The fun starts at 8pm at The Chapel in No 1 Shakespeare St, Stratford-upon-Avon. This is the last Sunday night gig from Stratford Jazz who move to Wednesdays in 2013. Entry is £10 and there is more information at www.stratfordjazz.org.uk

The Sunday evening gospel comes from Birmingham’s Town Hall Gospel Choir, who, under the direction of their inspirational director, Colin Anderson, will be singing seasonal favorites with added soul at The Drum. This is a wonderful community choir likely to  create a Christmas celebration you can dance to. Voices are raised in inspirational fashion from 7pm, tickets are £12.50 and you can find out more at www.the-drum.org.uk and at www.thsh.co.uk. This is a Jazzlines concert.

Another fine tradition on Tuesday evening – albeit a more recent one – is the Christmas Special delivered by the Jonathan Silk Big Band at The Spotted Dog. Drummer Jonathan, a graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire, leads from the rear a band of fine young players. According to the publicity, we are promised “Christmas jollities, plenty of festive cheer and some cockle-warming arrangements of Christmas classics”.

The band strikes up at 8.30pm, entry is free with donations in the Christmas hat encouraged.

And finally, Dan Nicholl’s exuberant jazz-meets-ska outfit, Ska’d For Life, gives Christmas another different beat at The Ort Cafe on Wednesday. Expect to jump up and down until you feel dizzy. This band of heat-generators is on from 8.30pm and entry is £5. More at www.ortcafe.co.uk



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