Pianist Roberto Fonseca’s last visit to Birmingham Town Hall was a triumph, though, inexplicably, I didn’t see a lot of regular Birmingham jazz lovers in the audience.
Perhaps it is the Cuban flavour of Fonseca’s music that doesn’t immediately appeal to the jazz purists, though if that were the reason they wouldn’t be listening to Dizzy Gillespie!
So, I’d urge all the jazz regulars, all the Conservatoire jazz students, in fact anyone who likes exciting and superbly played music in any style whatsoever, to get along to the Town Hall on Sunday evening.
Fonseca is working in a very fine tradition of Cuban jazz, with pianists like Chucho Valdes and Gonzalo Rubalcaba preceding him.
But he brings a fresh melodicism to assist the rhythmic drive that is characteristic of this music, and now he is extending the scope of his sound even further with African instruments and sounds.
So, the band for Sunday evening comprises Fonseca on piano and keyboards, Baba Sissoko on African percussion, Joel Hierrezuelo on Cuban percussion, Ramsés Rodríguez on drums, Yandy Martínez on bass, Jorge Chicoy on guitar, Javier Zalba on sax, flute and clarinet and Sekou Kouyate on kora.
There is also a new album, called Yo, coming out.
Afro-Cuban heaven, I would suggest. The music starts at 7.30pm, tickets are £17.50 and £15, and are available from www.thsh.co.uk
Excitement this evening as well, with the very good tenor saxophonist Paul Booth leading a band at Earlsdon Cottage in Coventry.
Paul spends a lot of time playing in stadia for classy rock stars like Steve Winwood, but when he has a chance to get intimate and jazzy he calls on his A-list friends to help him. So, on guitar is Phil Robson, on bass is Michael Janisch and on drums is James Maddren.
Paul has a new album out on Pathway Records. It’s called Trilateral and features a range of trio formats.
This Jazz Coventry gig starts at 8.30pm, and tickets are £10 on the door. Find out more at www.jazzcov.co.uk
Also tonight, Jack Bruce, bass player and singer for Cream and Blind Faith, as well as collaborator with Carla Bley among many others, has gone back to his blues roots, and brings his Big Blues Band to Birmingham Town Hall, offering “blues ancient and modern, and sweet and sour rock and roll”. An 8pm start, tickets are £25 from www.thsh.co.uk
And a special treat for jazz fans on a tight budget tomorrow evening. Pianist Kit Downes brings his Quintet to the Symphony Hall foyer bar for the Rush Hour Blues session. An exceptionally fine pianist expanding his tonal colours with clarinet and cello sheens laid on the core piano, bass and drum tones.
It starts at 5.30pm, goes till 7pm, and all you need to pay for is your drink. It’s also the final Rush Hour Blues to be co-hosted by Birmingham Jazz, though not, I hasten to add, the last Rush Hour Blues! (More of all that in the coming days)
Other gigs this week:
Tonight: Bass wiz Reed takes his Friends into The Yardbird. It starts after 8pm and it’s free.
Saturday: King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys are at the Prince Of Wales Centre in Cannock. Tickets are £16 from 01543 578762 and the fun begins at 8pm.
Sunday: Stekpanna and The Russians bring their own particular brand of serious jazz with a knowing smile to No1 Shakespeare Street, Stratford, courtesy of Stratford Jazz. An 8pm start and £8 on the door (students half price).