This evening is a jam-packed one for Birmingham jazz lovers with an outstanding European band playing the early evening session at the Symphony Hall foyer bar and Motown getting the Jazz Jamaica treatment in the Town Hall later on.
The Rush Hour session in the SH bar every Friday at 5.30pm is a constant in Birmingham’s jazz life that can very easily become taken for granted by virtue of its regularity. It is remarkably eclectic in flavour while maintaining an exceptionally high quality, so a large hurrah to co-promoters Symphony Hall and Birmingham Jazz for that.
This Friday the boundaries get pushed in exemplary fashion by the Cologne-based quartet Shreefpunk, led by trumpeter Matthias Schriefl. That second part of the band’s name does indicate a certain anarchic spirit in their music, but don’t for a minute underestimate their jazz credentials. Schriefl himself has played with everyone from Phil Woods, Lee Konitz and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to the legendary Peter Brotzmann. The band’s new disc on the ACT label, Live In Koln, features guest Django Bates.
A Rush Hour with a difference, then, and as always it’s exceptional value for money – all you pay for is your drink. Schreefpunk are in the Symphony Hall foyer bar from 5.30pm to 7pm this evening.
Jazz Jamaica really is a star-studded outfit, with Gary Crosby on bass, Alex Wilson on piano, Denys Baptiste on tenor saxophone and Abram Wilson on trumpet. For their 50th anniversary tribute to Motown Records, the band wheels out its popular Motorcity Roots programme, with Zara McFarlane, Baby Sol and J’Nay adding the vocals.
Motown’s greatest hits are infectious enough as they are – but add the brilliantly conceived reggae-jazz of Jazz Jamaica and it really is impossible to witness this music sitting down. Motorcity Roots is in the Town Hall, Birmingham, from 7.30pm tonight. Tickets are £16.50 and £18.50 available from thsh.co.uk or on 0121 780 3333, plus on the door.