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?"

Bud Shank: Saxophonist and flautist who pioneered West Coast jazz

When I arrived in California in this car with the fella from New York I had a clarinet, I had a flute and I had a tenor saxophone and a toothbrush and no job and no nothin'". Bud Shank was 20 and unknown when he arrived in Los Angeles in 1946, but over the next 10 years he metamorphosed into one of the best-loved alto saxophone players in the world. He was also one of the founders of West Coast jazz, with which his powerful and eloquent alto solos were strongly associated, although this bewildered him: "I don't even know what the hell West Coast jazz is", he said. "It was something different from what they were doing in New York, so the critics called it West Coast jazz." Not conforming to the fashion for "cool", smooth-toned playing, Shank remained a hot player whose intense, hard-swinging style communicated exuberance and excitement with great directness.

John Bachar: Rock climber celebrated for his solo ascents without ropes or equipment

In 1981 a note appeared on the notice board in the climbers' campground in Yosemite Valley, California, offering: "$10,000 for anyone who can follow me for one full day." At that time Yosemite was the world's rock climbing Mecca, with no shortage of young guns looking for adventure. Yet none of them took the $10,000 challenge because the poster was John Bachar – perhaps the greatest solo climber the world has ever seen.

Album: Miroslav Vitous Group, Remembering Weather Report, (ECM)

This could be subtitled "The Bass Player's Revenge". Founder-member Vitous might be remembering Weather Report but he doesn't do any of their tunes, preferring a rather noodly free jazz, a cover of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" and his own bowed and plucked playing.

Johnny Roadhouse: Saxophonist and central figure in Mancunian music

Over a career spanning more than half a century, the saxophonist Johnny Roadhouse was one of the country's leading instrumentalists. And as the celebrated owner of a legendary Manchester music store, his expertise helped guide many of the city's musicians to the forefront of British musical life.

Steve Race

In Spencer Leigh's survey of Steve Race's life (obituary, 24 June) he states: "When he criticised Roland Kirk, the American saxophonist challenged him to join his musicians at Ronnie Scott's Club, and Race acquitted himself well," writes Ron Malings. I was present at Ronnie Scott's on the night he refers to and this is more or less what happened.

Ornette Coleman, Meltdown Festival, Southbank Centre, London

Ambling onstage in sparkly silver suit and lime-green shirt, Ornette Coleman displays the disregard for prevailing tastes and fashions that has shocked jazz fans for half a century and more. Okay, inventing Free Jazz was one thing – but lime green and silver? What kind of way is this for a man on the cusp of 80 to dress?

The Roots, Royal Festival Hall, London

Collaboration’s all you need

Album: Kurt Elling, Dedicated to You, (Concord)

Elling is such a knock- 'em-dead singer that you're ready to forgive him anything, even this over egged tribute to John Coltrane's sublime 1963 album.

Album: Mark Lockheart, In Deep, (Edition)

Saxophonist Lockheart (Loose Tubes, Polar Bear) has been an excellent player in an over crowded sector for ages, but this new quintet's gimmick-free collection of 12 strong originals moves him close to the top of the class.

Sam Butera: Saxophonist and entertainer who found fame as Louis Prima's 'Big Horn'

The Las Vegas entertainer, Louis Prima referred to Sam Butera as "The Big Horn". For 20 years, the tenor saxophonist led the Witnesses, who accompanied Prima and his wives, Keely Smith and Gia Maione, and wrote most of the arrangements. After Prima's death in 1978, he continued as a lounge act, often working with Smith.

Win ticket's to Mica Paris gig at Ronnie Scott's

To celebrate the legendary jazz club's 50th anniversary, The Independent has teamed up with Ronnie Scott’s and the BFI to offer readers a chance two tickets to Mica Paris' concert on Wednesday 10t June at Ronnie Scott's in London.

Ronnie Scott's at 50

From inauspicious beginnings, Ronnie Scott's has become a world-famous venue. As it celebrates its 50th birthday, Ian Burrell recalls the legends who have graced the West End club

Ex-Ofsted chief has motor neurone disease

The former chief inspector of schools, Chris Woodhead, has revealed he would rather kill himself than die in agony from motor neurone disease. The 62-year-old, who quit as the Government's top schools watchdog after a series of rows with the then Home Secretary David Blunkett, was diagnosed with the disease in 2006.

Coming Soon: Coleman heads for Meltdown

The most intriguing event of the season is free-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman's (pictured) reign as director of the South Bank's Meltdown festival (0871 663 2500).

Paul Carrack, Ronnie Scott's, London

Superlative talents like Paul Carrack. He replaced Jools Holland in Squeeze twice, has had spells with Roxy Music, Nicks Lowe and Cave, played sessions with The Smiths, and written songs for the Eagles. You'll know his beret, grey beard and shades from his time as singer for Mike Rutherford's Genesis off-shoot Mike + the Mechanics. But it's as a reliable professional hand in better bands' later days that Carrack has become a minor part of British rock's fabric.

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