Jazz in London – EFG London Jazz Festival
For any jazz fan or musician like me, the EFG London Jazz Festival is a highlight within the year. Produced by Serious, one of the UK’s leading producers and curators of live jazz, it is the capital’s biggest pan-city music festival, bringing the best and freshest music to the streets, clubs and concert halls of the capital.
This year’s line-up feels really exciting with a line-up that shows how gender diverse and global a phenomenon jazz has become. Here are some of my highlights but if you want to take a look for yourself the EFG London Jazz Festival website at efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk is well worth a look.
Tord Gustavsen Trio
Cadogan Hall, Friday 16 November
Pianist Tord Gustavsen’s music continues to enchant and evolve, reaching out to an ever-growing audience with a blend of memorable melody, subtle groove, and a gentle depth of purpose.
Bridge Theatre, Sunday 18 November
Lea DeLaria seems to have achieved overnight stardom with her stand-out role as ‘Big Boo’ in the Netflix hit series Orange is the New Black. However, DeLaria’s multi-faceted career as a comedian, actress and jazz musician has in fact spanned decades.
Bobby McFerrin – Circlesongs
Barbican, Sunday 18 November
Bobby McFerrin’s exhilarating vocal vocabulary – call and response, global rhythms, soaring melodies, lush harmonies, funny noises, invented language, silence, prayers, and laughter – reminds us all of how much fun it is to be alive. Ten Grammy Awards and his #1 global hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” are pretty impressive, but ‘Bobby McFerrin’s greatest gift to his audience may be changing them from spectators into celebrants,’ says the Los Angeles Times, ‘transforming a concert hall into a playground, a village center, a joyous space.’
Orphy Robinson’s Astral Weeks featuring Zara McFarlane and Sarah Jane Morris
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Monday 19 November
50 years ago, a group of leading jazz musicians entered a studio in New York with Van Morrison and produced Astral Weeks. Winding forward to 2018, exactly 50 years since the original recording, we see leading UK vibes player & multi-instrumentalist and 2017 Jazz FM ‘Live Experience of the Year’ Award winner, Orphy Robinson, present his exclusive jazz and soul interpretation of this 1968 masterpiece in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its release.
Madeleine Peyroux – the ‘Anthem’ tour
Royal Festival Hall, Saturday 24 November
Madeleine Peyroux returns to London with a new album Anthem and a full band. The Guardian called her ‘a great interpreter of a poetic lyric’ – with a title song by Leonard Cohen and the rest of the album written by Madeleine.
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Sunday 25 November
A brand new collaboration between Snarky Puppy’s keyboard virtuoso and the mighty WDR Big Band, led by Bob Mintzer. .
The Stanley Clarke Band & The Headhunters
Royal Festival Hall, Tuesday 20 November
Two seminal names from the heady days of 70s jazz fusion, still creating music that combines the soulful – and downright funky – pulse of urban black America with instrumental wizardry par excellence.
Cadogan Hall, Sunday 25 November (4pm matinee)
Fifty-five years after he moved to the United States from his hometown of Kingston, Jamaica, pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message
Anthony Joseph & friends present “Windrush: A Celebration”
Barbican, Saturday 17 November
70 years on from the HMT Empire Windrush’s arrival in Essex and arguably the beginning of British multiculturalism, British/Trinidadian poet, novelist, and musician Anthony Joseph brings together an array of musicians and artists to celebrate the triumph of the Caribbean spirit with a series of events exploring the cultural history of the Caribbean diaspora in the United Kingdom.
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Saturday 17 November
Prince once said that Kandace Springs ‘has a voice that could melt snow’. She’s very much her own person – ‘I would like to be known as one of the younger people that are keeping jazz and soul alive and vibrant,’ she says, ‘I love their realness’.
Bill Frisell – Guitar In The Space Age!
Cadogan Hall, Sunday 18 November (5.30pm)
Bill Frisell’s Grammy-nominated project Guitar In The Space Age! is an homage to the inspirational pop of his formative years inspired by the “the birth of the Fender Telecaster guitar” – (1951, the same year as Frisell’s own birth) – that, he recalls, “got me super fired-up” about his instrument of choice.
Sarah Jane Morris sings John Martyn – Sweet Little Mystery
Purcell Room, Saturday 24 November
A sublime but monstrous hell-raiser and troubled genius, John Martyn produced a canon of music that is both breath-taking and brittle in its complex, atmospheric beauty. John Martyn’s music continues to resonate many years after his passing and Sarah Jane Morris, through her own brilliant interpretive vocal talents, picks up the torch and shines a light on this great musical maverick.
Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya featuring Keyon Harrold
LONDON Barbican, Sunday 25 November
Tickets from efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk
One of the most charismatic performers in jazz today, South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim has been at the forefront of the jazz scene for over fifty years. ‘People don’t like Abdullah Ibrahim, they adore him, bestowing on him the devotion normally reserved for Nina Simone. When he plays, melodies tumble out effortlessly, as he slides from theme to theme like a laid-back South African reincarnation of Thelonious Monk.’ (Guardian)
There are lots of other opportunities to see some great live music at the EFG London Jazz Festival – to find out more and explore for yourself do go to efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk and check out what’s on.