Inspired Jazz – Mammal Hands and Ishmael Ensemble

Inspired Jazz – Mammal Hands & Ishmael Ensemble

Inspired Festival

Date and time
24 May 2023 (5:00pm - 10:00pm)

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Map and Directions



Ishmael ensemble

Birmingham City University is proud to be staging a major ‘Inspired Jazz’ event at its Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC) on 24 May 2023 with performances from a wide range of artists.

  • 5pm – 7.30pm: Specialist contemporary Jazz DJ Tina Edwards in RBC’s Foyer
  • 5.45pm – 6.45pm: ‘In Conversation with…’ in RBC’s Recital Hall
  • 6.15pm – 6.45pm: RBC’s Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra in RBC’s Eastside Jazz Club
  • 7pm – 7.30pm: Birmingham Jazz group Friends in RBC’s Eastside Jazz Club
  • 7.15pm – 8.15pm: Ishmael Ensemble in RBC’s Bradshaw Hall
  • 8.45pm – 10pm: Mammal Hands in RBC’s Bradshaw Hall
  • All evening: An exhibition at the RBC will celebrate BCU’s rich jazz heritage, as well as the lives of the diverse and contemporary jazz musicians living in Birmingham.

The internationally-acclaimed Mammal Hands will headline the event, which will also celebrate the work of BCU’s staff, students and graduates, as well as the wider music industry in the city and beyond, while also showcasing the University’s expertise as a leading provider of creative arts education.

Also performing at RBC’s stunning Bradshaw Hall will be the talented Ishmael Ensemble. The Inspired Jazz event will also include supporting performances by local artists ‘Friends’, as well as RBC’s homegrown talent the Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra, made up of the University’s students and graduates who will perform in RBC’s Eastside Jazz Club.

Specialist contemporary Jazz DJ Tina Edwards will keep the celebration contemporary and engaging, while an exhibition celebrating BCU’s rich jazz heritage and research, curated by BCU’s Keeper of the Archives Dr Pedro Cravinho, will highlight the excellence of the University’s Jazz team.

RBC is a world-class teaching and performance facility located in the heart of Birmingham, attracting high calibre students and internationally-renowned performers and teachers, while producing some of the world’s best performers - including last year’s BBC Young Musician of the Year Jordan Ashman, a talented percussionist aged just 18. Its concert and performance spaces provide impressive venues and stage performances for visitors from around the globe.

BCU’s Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), said:

Professor Shirley Thompson, Interim Principal of BCU’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, added: “Music, culture and the arts sit at the core of RBC and BCU, and both contribute enormously to the cultural fabric of the city, region, and country.

“We are proud to be enabling the personal transformation of not only our students, but wider society, through excellence in practice-based education, research and knowledge exchange.

“Inspired Jazz is a unique event that will truly bring to life all that RBC and BCU encompasses, and we can’t wait to welcome guests through our doors.”

Captivating, ethereal and majestic, Mammal Hands (saxophonist Jordan Smart, pianist Nick Smart and drummer and percussionist Jesse Barrett) has carved out a refreshingly original sound from a disparate array of influences. They will perform at RBC less than two months after releasing their much-anticipated fifth studio album ‘Gift from the Trees’.

Meanwhile, over the past five years, producer and saxophonist Pete Cunningham’s Ishmael Ensemble has gone from being a humble bedroom recording project to an integral part of the thriving UK Jazz scene. The group’s ‘Visions of Light’ was crowned Huey Morgan’s ‘Album of the Year’ on BBC 6 Music and saw them perform at The New York Winter Jazz Festival for Gilles Peterson.

Friends’ line-up consists of Ray Brown on Double Bass; Wayne Scott on Drums; Andy Gayle on Sax; Ralf DeCambre on guitar; and Kirk Ricketts as guest vocals.

One of the most curious and respected selectors in the UK, Tina Edwards joins the dots between Jazz and club culture. Whether it’s modern Jazz dance floor burners, unearthed and obscure 90s acid Jazz or Afro-driven rhythms from across the world, Tina’s sets are as much an introduction to incredible lesser-heard music as much as they are a celebration of the current UK Jazz explosion.

A collaboration between RBC’s Jazz and Percussion departments, the Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra consists of staff, students and alumni performing as a large ensemble.

Inspired Jazz forms part of BCU’s Inspired Festival 2023, celebrating the exciting new talent emerging from the University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media, and offers a virtual window into the future of the creative industries.

Inspired Festival

Join us to experience the talent, creativity and ingenuity of our final-year students as they leave the university and launch their careers.

Find out more about Inspired Festival

Events will be announced soon.