Arlen and a punk-jazz drum poet in the week ahead

He wrote Blues In The Night, Get Happy, That Old Black Magic, the song that Frank Sinatra made his own, One For My Baby, and the one Judy Garland made hers, Over The Rainbow.

Harold Arlen

Yes, Harold Arlen is one of true gods of the Great American Songbook, that informal collection from the songwriters and lyricists who created all those songs that have achieved immortality, mainly through jazz interpretation.

Arlen is the subject of the BBC Big Band’s concert in Birmingham Town Hall tomorrow evening.

The singer performing Arlen’s songs with the band was to have been Mario Biondi, but he is no longer available, so Jeff Cascaro has stepped neatly into his shoes. The arranger and conductor is Joerg Achim Keller.

Get Happy – The BBC Big Band Celebrates Harold Arlen starts at 7.30pm, tickets are £19.50 and £13.50 and are available from or on 0121 345 0600.

And if you fancy a jazzy pre-concert drink before Arlen, head for Symphony Hall’s Cafe Bar and the company of John Ruddick.

We normally see him leading the whole crowd of youthful musicians that make up the Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra, but trumpeter John steps up with just his trumpet and a small group for company at the Rush Hour Blues session tomorrow evening.

Expect mainstream jazz played with warmth and a light swing. The music starts at 5.30pm. It’s free.

Stratford Jazz steps way outside its usual box on Sunday evening, and bravo to them for some bold programming.

Sean Noonan

In the house – the house being No1 Shakespeare Street, in Stratford-upon-Avon – will be Brooklyn-based drummer and storyteller Sean Noonan, assisted by pianist Matthew Bourne.

The gig is called Born To Brew, but whether Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew has anything to do with it, I don’t know. Maybe it’s about making a nice cuppa.

Noonan mixes up punk jazz, world music and classically-influenced composition, and has worked with Marc Ribot, Jamaaladeen Tacuma and Mat Manieri.

According to Nate Chinen, in the New York Times, “He attempts to braid together the Celtic balladry of his ancestors with the various traditions of West African griots, Southern bluesmen and downtown-scene alchemists…”

And the Vortex Jazz Club in London, which is also presenting Born To Brew, has this to say: “Picture Cecil Taylor and Samuel Becket out on a night of romance and in quest of a good bar fight.”

Sounds exciting. Head for Stratford for an 8pm, start, tickets are £8 on the door, and find out more at

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