Olympians and other Midland gigs this week

The greatest track and field athletes from the US are at Alexander Stadium, doing their last -minute preparations for those games in London. And some great musical athletes of jazz are in Symphony Hall tomorrow evening.

Wynton Marsalis

The Olympians of American jazz, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, are always most welcome visitors to this hall, and they just seem to get better with each visit.

The band, 15 cohesive ensemble players and explosive soloists who make up the world’s premier house band, will be playing arrangements of big band classics from Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie as well as their own compositions.

Among those likely to be on the Symphony Hall stage are trumpeters Ryan Kisor and Marcus Printup, trombonist Vincent Gardner, and saxophonists Sherman Irby, Walter Blandings Jr and the evergreen Scottish baritone player Joe Temperley.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1961, Wynton Marsalis began his classical training on trumpet at age 12 and soon began playing in local bands of diverse genres. He entered The Juilliard School at age 17 and then joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. In 1982, he made his recording debut as a leader, and has since recorded more than 70 jazz and classical albums which have brought him nine Grammys.

He has probably none more than anyone else in the last 30 years to give jazz a mainstream cultural profile.

While Wynton is, of course, the star, he is also a hugely generous orchestra leader so we should get to hear a lot of the band as well as their leader.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra close Symphony Hall’s 21st Anniversary Festival at 7.30pm tomorrow and booking is at www.thsh.co.uk or on 0121 3450600.

There is more big band music before and after the Marsalis gig, with two free Jazzlines presentations in the Symphony Hall cafe bar.

From 5.30pm to 7pm the Mike Fletcher Big Band comprises many of the young Birmingham players we see in gigs around the city, all brought together by saxophonist/flautist and Spotted Dog sessions maestro Fletcher, and playing from their big band book which includes compositions from Thad Jones and Glenn Miller.

From 9.30pm the Jazzlines Ensemble, a group of student players who have grown out of the organisation’s education projects, provides the backdrop to a post-concert nightcap.

Other gigs this week: 

Tomorrow: Notts, a freshly pressed band who may or may not be from Nottinghamshire, are at the Ort Cafe from 8.30pm. Free entry but donations welcome. Meanwhile Kenny Ball & his Jazzmen are at Solihull Arts Complex at 7.30pm. Book at www.solihullartscomplex.co.uk

Saturday: The Saturday Jazz Kitchen is a regular session at the Bohemia Restaurant in Selly Oak from 12.30pm.

Sunday: The Flamingo Tea Room in Lichfield has started Sunday jazz and this week it’s jazz photographer and journalist John Watson with alto in hand, playing standards. There is also lunchtime jazz at Old Joint Stock in Birmingham.

Tuesday: Pianist Andy Bunting leads a strong quintet at The Spotted Dog, with Percy Pursglove on trumpet and Mike Fletcher on saxophone.

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