Rare chance to catch rising Finnish pianist in this week’s Midland gigs

Top of the week’s gigs has to be a rare appearance in this country by the young Finnish pianist Alexi Tuomarila. He has just been signed by the lively Cardiff-based Edition Records and is playing here in advance of an album on the label to be released in April.

The Alexi Tuomarila Trio

The Alexi Tuomarila Trio

The gig is at Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry on Sunday, and with Tuomarila are his fellow Finn Olavi Louhivouri on drums and the Norwegian double bassist Mats Eilertsen.

Tuomarila, like so many of today’s fine jazz pianists, started out studying classical music but his father’s record collection lured him into jazz, and he hasn’t looked back.

He studied in Belgium at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, and started to attract attention with early awards for his band and as a pianist.

His quartet album 02, released here in 2003, gained him some fans in this country, but we haven’t heard much from him since, though he re-emerged in the veteran Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko’s band for the ECM album Dark Eyes in 2009.

Brad Mehldau has said of Tuomarila: “That kind of maturity in a musician is really more the exception than the rule… I’m definitely excited about the future of this piano player.”

Listening again to 02, it’s clear he plays beautifully flowing solos with great dynamic range and sensitivity.

It will be good to hear him in person in the WAC’s Studio, and the presence of Eilertsen, last seen here as part of the Tord Gustavsen band, is another good reason to get along to the gig.

It’s at 7.45pm on Sunday at Warwick Arts Centre. Tickets are £12.50 from www.warwickartscentre.co.uk

Before that, there are vocal treats to be enjoyed at the Jazzlines Free Jazz session in the Symphony Hall Cafe Bar tomorrow at 5pm.

Jazzlines’ vocal consultant Sara Colman will be the MC introducing four young singers studying at Birmingham Conservatoire and already some way down the road to professional singing careers.

Lottie Hodgson formed her own band three years ago and has gigging around the city, performing her own songs and original arrangements of other’s.

Holly Thomas

Holly Thomas

Holly Thomas is inspired by poetry as much as by song, and has formed a strong musical partnership with pianist Andrew Woodhead. She’ll also be joined by saxophonist Lluis Mather in whose band Noose she plays a vital part.

Taan Parisse also leads her own band and draws inspiration from a wide range of jazz, dance and rock music, though she is promising some standard tunes for tomorrow.

And Anthony Marsden will be singing his own songs, inspired by the Great American Songbook, and more recent singer-songwriters.

This is a free event.

Wednesday evening presents the chance to hear keyboard virtuoso Kit Downes in two different bands, both showing what is possible in British jazz of the 21st Century.

Troyka is a trio with Downes on keys, alongside Chris Montague on guitar and Josh Blackmore on drums.

Their music is full of tricky timing and complex harmonies, but all rendered much more accessible by the funky panache with which they tackle it all.

Golden Age Of Steam is now a quintet, led by saxophonist James Allsopp, with Downes concentrating on organ, Alex Bonney on trumpet, Ruth Goller on bass and Tim Giles on drums.

Again there is a fusion here of jazz, electronica, funk and rock.

This Jazzlines gig is at the Hare And Hounds in Kings Heath and starts at 8.30pm. Tickets are £10 at www.thsh.co.uk or on the door.

Other gigs this week:

Tonight – The Tricky Troubadors, featuring Terry Clarke on vocals, Becky Downes on vocals and John Potter on bass, “should a fun one” according to Ray Butcher, who’s organised it. The TTs are at The Yardbird from 9pm, free entry.

Tomorrow – Another new band comprising some familiar names on the Birmingham jazz scene, it’s called Big Wave, Small Giant, and comprises David Austin Grey on keyboard, Chris Mapp on electric bass, Tymek Joswiak on drums, Mark Robertson on percussion, Gareth Fowler on guitar, Chris Young on alto saxophone, Nick Rundle on tenor and Tom Dunnett on trombone. The band is a collective, shares the composer duties, and will be playing two sets of new material. It’s all happening at Ort Cafe in Balsall Heath from 8.30pm. £5/£3 to get in.

Saturday – The Lamp Tavern usually makes Tuesday the time for jazz but this week Saturday’s the night for not fighting but improvising, with a band of Mark Lockett on keyboards, Trevor Lines on bass, Lluis Mather on saxophone and Ric Yarborough on drums. It starts at 8.30pm and entry is £5/£3. More on this and the Ort Cafe gig at www.blambirmingham.co.uk

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