Last year Andrew Woodward, award-winning pianist/composer and organiser of a fortnightly improv session called Fizzle at The Lamp Tavern in Birmingham’s Digbeth area, included me in a group email to other jazz promoters in the city. Might we all get together, he asked, in order to co-ordinate our efforts, perhaps collaborate on intiatives that could benefit everyone?
Not revolutionary, not rocket science, is it? But not to be sneezed at either. A few months ago I asked one of the young Birmingham Conservatoire graduate musicians who has made a home in this city why not move to London? There were various reasons, I was told, and among them was that the London scene was “cliquey”. “In Birmingham, everone gets along,” was a summary of his reasons for staying.
I have no knowledge of the London scene, so cannot comment on the truth or otherwise of this view. What I can comment on is how many times I have seen the benefits of cross-fertilisation as musicians increasingly collaborate across Birmingham and its various jazz nights. And that sense of being part of one big jazz family is nowhere more manifest than in the regular meetings of the promoters’ group, now going under the title Jazz In Birmingham, which Andrew instigated and has been meeting regularly ever since.
The first physical evidence of its success is a listings guide in print and online. Inspired by a similar one-stop listing of where to go to hear jazz in London, the Birmingham group has produced its own bi-monthly fold-out guide. It looks much nicer than the London one, too, though I am of course biased!
After a trial run at the beginning of the year, issue #2 of Jazz In Birmingham has just been printed and is now being distributed to venues and marketing outlets around the city. It will be officially launched at the Frontiers Festival next Thursday.
Taking part in this latest venture to promote and, where possible, co-ordinate jazz events in Birmingham are: Birmingham Conservatoire; Birmingham Jazz; Blue Piano; Fizzle; Jazz at The Spotted Dog/Pilgrimage; Jazzlines; Kinda Dukish; Silvershine Club; and TDE Promotions. I am editing the listings (and have discontinued my own Diary as unneccesary now); Brian Homer, senior consultant at homercreative and a Birmingham Jazz trustee, has designed the leaflet and is handling printing.
Andrew sums it up:
“The launch of this leaflet marks a big step forward for Birmingham’s jazz scene, and the first issue has already proved very popular among the city’s jazz fans. It’s great to see the positive energy surrounding the scene here, and having all the promoters working together to support it is incredibly encouraging.
“We hope this initiative will help cement Birmingham’s reputation as a major cultural destination both for Jazz and other art forms, and give visitors to our city a starting point to explore the huge range of world-class concerts we put on here.”
- Look out for Jazz In Birmingham in venues around the city; it can be downloaded as a PDF here.