A new jazz ensemble, known as The Real Book North West Band, was launched at the Gregson Community and Arts Centre in Lancaster on Saturday, March 21.

When the band’s current tour ends at Manchester International Festival Pavilion, in Albert Square, on Saturday, July 18, it will have played a total of 17 gigs, mostly in the part of the UK included in its name. However, two other prestigious venues, in Birmingham and London, are also included.

Local enthusiasts have already had an opportunity to hear the quintet and assess their offerings, described as “a ground-breaking new anthology of music by composers connected to the North West of England”, at Wigan Jazz Club’s monthly concert at Lowton Civic Hall last Sunday. I was working and unfortunately couldn’t make the gig but people whose opinions I respect were very positive in their views.

I can’t say I was surprised as I know the musicians involved, all hugely talented individuals. They are Mike Walker (guitar), Andy Schofield (saxes), Les Chisnall (piano), Steve Berry (bass) and Dave Walsh (drums). Steve and Dave, justifiably regarded as two of the best musicians in the UK on their respective instruments, were members of the Steve Moore Trio at the Jazz Jamborees I organised at Derby Ward Labour Club, when they backed soloists of the calibre of Mark Nightingale, Alan Barnes, Roy Williams, Don Lusher, Tommy Whittle, Ben Castle and Kenny Baker.

The Real Book Band was brought together by NWJazzworks, the support agency for jazz musicians, promoters and audiences in the North West, and its programme is taken from a total of 100 original compositions, penned by 60 of the region’s best jazz composers. The idea of Real Books originated in America in the 1970s but Real Book North West is the first to focus solely on UK musicians. In that respect it is an innovative and exciting project.

Anyone interested in giving this unique combo a listen should make their way to St Mary’s Chambers in Haslingden Road, Rawtenstall, the venue which has replaced the Rhythm Station, next Wednesday evening, April 15.

Denis Dundon, who has worked tirelessly to ensure the jazz club’s programme underwent a seamless transition from its former base, has booked an impressive list of names for 2009, including Alan Barnes, Bruce Adams, Gilad Atzmon, Ben Clatworthy, Steve Waterman and Damon Brown. Give him a call on 0161 796 0275 for details about the venue and coming attractions or access www.dunrhythm.co.uk l Together with Carl Barnett, my bass-playing colleague in the mainstream group Jeriatric Jazz, I have again been invited to accompany pianist Andrew Fazackerley when he appears in concert at Our Lady of Lourdes Social Club, in Plodder Lane, Farnworth, on Monday, April 20.

Andrew, a Boltonian and former pupil at Thornleigh Salesian College, has for many years lived and worked in Atlanta, Georgia, where he has become an established and respected figure on the entertainment scene.

A wonderfully-gifted pianist, who prefers to call himself a musician who plays jazz, rather than pigeonhole himself as a jazz musician.

Andrew has performed at similar concerts on previous visits to his home town to meet with family and friends.

All have been enjoyable and successful and Carl and I are very much looking forward to renewing our liaison with him on April 20. The show starts at 8.30pm and admission is £4. Call Michael Mainon for further details on 01942 795766.