Pick of the Midland gigs – February 2016

Here are my top five recommendations (plus one) for this month:

Ben Lee Quintet – young Conservatoire-grad guitarist with a band which comprises altoist Chris Young, trombonist Richard Foote, Dave Ferris on organ and Euan Palmer on drums. Ben’s original compositions are featured but making predictions on the set list would be a mistake. This is a band keen to try anything. They are at The Red Lion tomorrow evening, Friday 5 February, courtesy of Birmingham Jazz. More here.

Eddie Prévost – the veteran drummer has been a musical searcher all his life and brings his particular kind of textured percussion to The Lamp Tavern. With this co-founder of the AMM improvising ensemble will be saxophonist Tom Chant and bassist John Edwards. Promoter is Fizzle and this is on Tuesday 23 February. More here.

GoGo Penguin

GoGo Penguin

GoGo Penguin – want to find out what all the fuss is about? Get along to the Warwick Arts Centre Theatre (yep, Theatre – the usual Studio would be too small for this band) on Saturday 13 February. Pianist Chris Illingworth, bassist Nick Blacka and drummer Rob Turner got a Mercury in 2014 and now have a signed Blue Note contract to pin up next to it. The results of that will hit the CD players, etc tomorrow. It’s called Man Made Object. Hear what electronic experiments, arcade game soundtracks and even damaged CDs sound like when translated into the acoustic jazz piano trio format. More here.

Phronesis – another piano trio that sounds like nothing that has gone before. Jasper Høiby’s muscular bass lines, Anton Eger’s explosive drumming and Ivo Neame’s oblique piano solos combine in ever-enthralling ways. This is their debut at the Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham. They play the Djanogly Theatre on Wednesday 24 February, courtesy of Jazz Steps. More here.

Emily Saunders – the vocalist made a fine album last year called Outsiders Insiders. It showed her to have a strong writing style and a distinctive way with a lyric and melody. Brazil meets jazz and pop in a highly attractive mix. Emily, with Byron Wallen on trumpet and her trio, plays the Attenborough Arts Centre in Leicestershire, courtesy of Leicester Jazz House, on Friday 26 February. More here.

And then there is the very special one I nearly forgot!

Dan Tepfer

Dan Tepfer

Dan Tepfer – the exceptionally talented Paris-born, New York-based pianist – and if you heard him with Lee Konitz at the CBSO Centre a few years ago you will not need convincing – is playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations interleaved with his own jazz Variations in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on Wednesday 10 February. And if you buy a ticket you can join him on stage. In fact, anyone who buys a ticket can join him on stage. To take full advantage of the amazing acoustics of this concert hall while maintaining the intimacy that this music needs, THSH has decided to seat the audience on the stage with Dan and the concert grand. More here.

  • For loads more good gigs go to the Diary here.


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