Legends Festival Review

This is Peter Bacon's review for Jazzwise

This new weekend festival established by Birmingham Jazz chose as its theme the great jazz “legends”, focusing mainly on Miles Davis this year.
The gigs ranged from free entry ones in coffee shops to Birmingham Jazz’s regular haunt, the upstairs room of The Red Lion pub.
While the gigs were uniformly excellent and many - Chris Biscoe’s Mingus Profiles Band and Simon Spillett’s Standard Miles, for example - fitted in perfectly with the Legends concept, for me the real highlights were the ones that added something fresh to the mix.
The Mark Pringle Quartet, playing in the small foyer of the BLOC Hotel with a pop-up breakfast stand beside them, dressed some old Monk favourites in original and spontaneous new habits.
Little Church was created specially by pianist David Austin Grey, with Aaron Diaz on trumpet and electronics, Rachael Cohen on alto saxophone, Nick Jurd on both electric and double bass, and Tymek Jozwiak on drums. The Miles tunes were less obvious ones – Wayne Shorter’s Waterbabies, and Miles’ Cobra and Little Church – and most of the 90-minute set was made up of Grey originals, inspired by Electric Miles but reflecting the characters of the composer and his accomplished players.
Local heroes Bryan Corbett on trumpet and Chris Bowden on alto saxophone, with Luke Flowers on drums, Mark Ridout on guitar and Chris Dodds on bass - played with a joyful funk flavour in among the jazz chops. This was thoroughly appropriate music not because it stuck so closely to Miles’ style but because it fitted with his attitude of constant experimentation (it also reminded me that Legends’ guest curator Henry Lowther had earlier referred to Miles’ advice: “Practise on stage”).
A festival of which Birmingham can be proud.
Peter Bacon