Birmingham, UK – a new global centre of contemporary jazz

Conservatoire announces acclaimed musician to join faculty as visiting tutor.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire has announced that acclaimed musician and broadcaster Soweto Kinch is to join its Jazz Studies team as a Visiting Tutor.

The award-winning saxophonist and MC, who has strong connections with Birmingham, brings close to two decades of experience in international touring, recording, composition and radio work to the course, beginning with a public performance alongside two bands drawn from the school at the Conservatoire’s Eastside Jazz Club on Thursday 30 May.

The announcement of Soweto Kinch’s appointment is the latest in a series of academic and industry developments that are helping to establish Birmingham as a new centre of the UK’s contemporary jazz scene, as well as contributing to the genre globally. A considerable community of jazz musicians, academics and industry professionals are now embedded at the state-of-the-art facilities at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and within the leading Jazz Research Cluster at Birmingham School of Media to collaborate and innovate internationally.

he said, “I’m honoured and excited to join the Jazz Studies team. Having had a loose connection with the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media for over fifteen years, it’s great to formalise what’s been a fruitful relationship, and to build on great musical partnership.

“I’m looking forward to joining some inspirational teaching staff as well as connecting the dots of arts and music across Birmingham’s communities with this vibrant faculty to help develop a music scene that occupies a vital place within the national jazz landscape.”

The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s Jazz Studies course, led by Jeremy Price, has a student community of around eighty students at any one time and has produced a number of notable alumni over the years including Percy Pursglove, Mark Hanslip, Alcyona Mick, Alex Woods, Tom Syson and Tim Thornton. The core department team consists of Andrew Bain, John O’Gallagher and Percy Pursglove with many international names in jazz also on the Visiting Tutor team including Jean Toussaint, Liam Noble, John Turville, Mark Hodgson and Clark Tracey.

Jeremy Price, Head of Jazz Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, commented, “The opportunities and resource of talent we have here is truly exceptional. When you couple that with the international jazz venue that is Eastside Jazz Club, the whole package becomes an indisputably world class proposition.

“It’s well worth noting that in this academic year alone we have sent students and staff to Siena Jazz, European Jazz Lab with Hamburg Hochschule and the Elb Jazz Festival, Thai International Jazz Conference in Bangkok, the jazz composition and arranging conference in Denver Colorado, Bogata Colombia exchange, Paris Conservatoire collaboration at Cheltenham Jazz Festival and a big band project with Milan Conservatorio.”

A significant number of international projects are being delivered by jazz researchers across Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Arts Design and Media including the development of a ground-breaking app exploring the experience of jazz festivals in online environments and the use of digital technologies in the planning and management of music festivals. The technology is being researched by Professor Nicholas Gebhardt and Dr Craig Hamilton and tested in partnership with Cheltenham Jazz Festival with the latest version in use at the 2019 edition which starts this week.

The annual music festival is also a project partner for an Arts and Humanities Research Council research project led by Dr Sarah Raine. This project will explore the experience of women jazz musicians active in the UK as a means to support Cheltenham Jazz Festival in their Keychange pledge for a 50/50 gender balanced programme by 2022.

The Birmingham City University Jazz Research Cluster is also home to several major international publications, has an excellent track record of being awarded external funding and provides committee members and regular participants for the Rhythm Changes conference, now the largest gathering of jazz scholars globally.

Parkside, the University’s important new arts, design and media facility is now home to an archive of written, printed and visual materials on jazz, blues and related music, from the 1920s to the present day. The substantial British Institute of Jazz Studies collection also acts as a satellite of the National Jazz Archive, together with other jazz-related materials and collections held at the Parkside Building.

The materials at the Arts, Design and Media Archives are accessible to the public by email appointment ( and are managed by Dr Pedro Cravinho – who also leads the pilot research project in partnership with professional jazz photographer Brian Homer, Everyday Jazz Life: a photographic project on contemporary jazz musician’s lives in Birmingham.