Nham are a group of improvising musicians featuring two Chicagoans; Jeb Bishop on Trombone and Michael Zerang on Drums and percussion as well as two British musicians; Tony Bevan on Baritone and Soprano Sax and John Edwards on Bass. On Tuesday night they played a wonderful gig at Fizzle which is a regular improvising session held in the back room of The Lamp Tavern in Digbeth. It’s a fine old pub, selling a range of fine real ales and an audience of 30 plus can make the venue seem really packed. Tonights gig wasn’t far off that at all and all the audience appeared to really enjoy the opportunity to hear these wonderful musicians playing together again. Amongst the CD’s on sale on the night was on by this line up which was recorded in 2002 in the early days of this group.
Tuesday’s gig was co- sponsored by Fizzle, who put on fortnightly gigs in the venue, and Jazzlines. Jazzlines is the organisation which has taken over from Birmingham Jazz. The Arts Council when considering how to deal with cuts to their budget were, apparently, very clear that they wanted Birmingham Jazz to work together with the Town Hall and Symphony Hall in order to protect the grant that went towards Jazz music in Birmingham each year. Some of the board of Birmingham Jazz weren’t happy with this and wanted the organisation to stay independent even though it would mean losing Arts Council Funding. This led to Tony Dudley-Evans and Mary Wakelam moving from Birmingham Jazz to be part of a new Jazzlines set up based at and part of the THSH organisation. You can see more on the new Jazzlines website. Birmingham Jazz will continue as an independent organisation and will seek to raise funds separately, initially through a fund raising drive from members we are told. They will look to carry on promoting gigs on a small basis in the city. Birmingham Jazz’s website will continue here.
It is, of course, possible to run Jazz gigs without Arts Council or City Council funding but I have a feeling that gigs like the Nham gig on Tuesday which was supported by Jazzlines would have been difficult to run without public funding. Certainly the upcoming Jazzlines gigs featuring Andy Sheppard’s Trio Libero and Phronesis, amongst others, would have been extremely difficult to promote had the Arts Council Funding been lost from the city. Therefore whilst I wish Birmingham Jazz well I am glad that Jazzlines exists and that public funding for Jazz in the City continues.
Keep an eye out for other gigs at Fizzle here. The work they do shows that small gigs in back rooms of pubs can produce brilliant music that sits really well alongside the things we see and hear in bigger venues.
As a listener I thoroughly enjoyed Tuesday night. However as a photographer I guess I have to say that one of the things that smaller gigs often miss out on due to budget constraints etc is lighting. Therefore it’s generally harder to get good atmospheric images. As an example the images I have posted on my site from Tuesday’s gig had to be taken at an ISO of 3200 or 6400 and at slow shutter speeds. I like to avoid blur if I can unless I use it in a creative way. It’s much harder to do so at slow shutter speeds. However despite this little winge I’m quite pleased with some of the images I took on Tuesday night. They took a bit more work in post production in Lightroom than I’m used to but I hope viewers who were there would agree that I’ve caught something of the atmosphere of the gig.
Go here to go to see a whole Gallery of images on my website.