Arts and Entertainment

A documentary on Birmingham? Thanks but no thanks, I thought to myself while pondering the new series of Reimagining the City. Seriously, Birmingham? It's hardly Florence or Cairo or Cape Town. No one nudges their partner on a soggy January morning and says wistfully, "Darling, wouldn't it be just lovely if we could leave all this behind and disappear to Birmingham?"

Album: Trio Dolce Vita, Amarcord (Jazzwerkstatt)

The woody – even Acker Bilk-ish – sound of a clarinet tootling Nino Rota's title-theme from Fellini's Amarcord against the clip-clop rhythm of double bass and plucked cello must be one of the most nostalgic musical experiences imaginable.

Trail of the Unexpected: Musical Copenhagen

Copenhagen should be on the map for everyone with a thirst for jazz, says Thomas E Kennedy

Album: Heath Brothers, Endurance (Jazz Legacy)

Soon, jazz like this won’t exist any more.

Album: Nat Birchall, Guiding Spirit (Gondwana)

More great spiritual jazz from Manchester.

Album: James Morton's Porkchop, Don't You Worry...(Fresh Ground)

Impressive debut from young Bristol alto saxophonist (and Andy Sheppard-protégé) James Morton and his down-home quartet, with the excellent Dan Moore on Hammond organ.

Album: Barney Wilen and His AFRB, Dear Prof Leary (MPS)

Completely mad 1968 European free-jazz/acid rock mash-up, with French saxophonist Wilen (he played with Miles Davis) leading a double trio – one jazz, one rock – with Joachim Kuhn on keyboards and Aldo Romano on drums among the musicians.

All That Follows, By Jim Crace

At what may be crossroads or turning-points in their self-directed paths, two of Britain's most inventive novelists have paused to consider the meaning of the art that they practise via a detour into another that they love: jazz. In the stories of Nocturnes, Kazuo Ishiguro harmonised the crises in his musicians' lives with a "twilight" mood of thwarted hopes and waning powers. In this, his tenth novel, Jim Crace at first seems to forsake his high-definition alternative worlds – the ideal European city of Six; the Biblical desert of Quarantine; the post-calamity wastes of The Pesthouse – for something more mundane. On the eve of his 50th birthday, Leonard Lessing – a middle-ranking jazz saxophonist becalmed on a "sabbatical" in his Middle-England home – finds himself caught up in a hostage-taking drama.

Album: Lee Konitz, New Quartet (Enja)

At an age when most of us would be happy if we could still get a spoon in our mouths, 82-year-old saxophonist Konitz took his young band into New York's Village Vanguard.

Jerry Dammers' Spatial AKA Orchestra, Colston Hall, Bristol

A dazzling tribute to the music and cosmology of bandleader Sun Ra is simply inspirational

Nocturnes, By Kazuo Ishiguro

With their gently melancholy wit and bittersweet harmonies, Ishiguro's five "stories of music and nightfall" feel much like the Broadway standards that inspire them.

Album: Mark Lockheart and the NDR Big Band, Days Like These (Fuzzy Moon)

Give some jazz musicians an orchestra to work with and you get scaled-up felt-tip sketches.

Todd Rundgren, Hammersmith Apollo, London

To a certain generation of former furry freaks, now bald retro-rockers, Todd Rundgren inspires fierce devotion. The American eccentric's success as a producer, supervising sessions for the Ramones, Meat Loaf, etc, gave him financial independence. Hence, if he wanted to make something as off-kilter as A Wizard, A True Star, a concept album with no concept, he could. Now he's touring the LP for the first time – 37 years late. Rundgren may be an oddball, but there are 3,500 elders here who see him as a True Star. And they have a point.

Sir John Dankworth: Saxophonist who pioneered modern jazz in Britain and became a patron of music education

One of the first British musicians to grasp the fundamentals of "modern" (post swing) jazz, the saxophonist Johnny Dankworth eventually surpassed his bandleading days to become a skilled composer of film music, a prominent patron of the arts and head of a burgeoning musical dynasty. It is unlikely that there was ever such a splendid husband and wife partnership in jazz as that engendered when Cleo Laine joined the Johnny Dankworth Seven in 1951 for £7 a week and which was reinforced when they eventually married in 1958.

Jazz legend Johnny Dankworth dies

Tributes were paid today to British jazz legend Sir John Dankworth after he died aged 82.

Album: Don Cherry, Hear & Now (Atlantic)

Reissue of a rare 1977 fusion album by the shamanistic Cherry (1936-95), the Ornette Coleman Quartet trumpeter.

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