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A range of shows; some free - all top quality
A celebration concert in memory of one of Birmingham's greatest musicians, David Bowie's drummer and a series of concerts featuring some of the best contemporary female bandleaders are among the highlights of Jazzlines' city-wide winter/ spring 2018 programme. Jazzlines is a creative jazz music and talent development initiative based within Performances Birmingham Limited (PBL), the charity that runs Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall.
At Eastside Jazz Club on January 25 there's an appearance by My Iris, the latest ensemble project from saxophonist Trish Clowes. The project sees Trish exploring smaller scale arrangements alongside Chris Montague (guitar), Ross Stanley (piano and Hammond organ) and James Maddren (drums). Tickets are £13.
Award winning: Zara McFarlane
Multi-award winning vocalist Zara McFarlane plays the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath on February 7. Signed to Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings, Zara's recent album, Arise, was produced by drummer/ producer Moses Boyd. A lyrically-conscious songwriter, Zara has earned a string of awards including a MOBO, Urban Music Award and JazzFM Award, and was featured singer in the RSC's recent production of Anthony and Cleopatra, performing music written by Laura Mvula. Tickets are £12.
Pelt: Christine Tobin (pic: Brian O'Connor)
Christine Tobin's Pelt is the Jazzlines gig at the CBSO Centre on February 10. Pelt is a musical setting for the poems and lyrics of Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Paul Muldoon, performed by Christine and her eight-piece band. Tickets are £13.
Mercury Prize-nominated Dinosaur pianist Elliot Galvin performs at the Hare & Hounds on March 14. His third album, The Influencing Machine, featuring bassist Tom McCredie and drummer Corrie Dick, is released on January 26. Tickets are £12.
Legend: Andy Hamilton
The Andy Hamilton Centenary Celebration at Birmingham Town Hall on March 25, celebrates the life of the legendary jazz musician Andy Hamilton MBE. Born in Jamaica on 26 March 1918, the tenor saxophonist formed his first band in 1928 before moving to the UK in 1949. Settling in Birmingham, he eventually became a major figure in the city's vibrant music scene. Much missed, Andy passed away in 2012, though his influence continues. Headlining the special concert is The Notebenders Big Band, formed by Andy in the local community of Ladywood, who'll perform alongside invited guests and past members. Tickets are £12.50.
Fused: Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick
Two piano/ saxophone duos take to the Symphony Hall stage for an intimate performance on March 28. After working together on the London jazz scene in various large ensembles, Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick have fused their different approaches to present a set of original material and contemporary standards with a twist. They're joined by the Stan Sulzmann/ Nikki Iles Duo, who've been working together, on and off, for some 20 years. Tickets are £13.
Acclaimed: Mark Guiliana (pic: Deneka Peniston)
Recognised as one of the world's leading drummers, Mark Guiliana has worked with such artists as Brad Mehldau, Matt Cameron and neo-soul singer-songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello. But it's his contribution to David Bowie's final album, Blackstar, for which he is arguably best known. The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet plays the CBSO Centre on April 27. Expect selections from his acclaimed album, Jersey, an infectious collection of boundary-pushing acoustic tracks that includes an instrumental reading of Bowie's poignant Where Are We Now?.
Jazzlines' free gigs at Symphony Hall are always popular. Among the 2018 shows are André Bassing's And You Know Us (January 16), The Notebenders Big Band (January 20, February 17, March 24), Coco 'n' the Fellas (January 26), Arun Ghosh (February 2), University of Birmingham Big Band (February 9) and Alan Benzie Trio (February 16).