London Jazz Festival, an amazing 28 years in, has become a big deal on the global music calendar. A stunning mix of international big hitters, emerging UK talent, old pioneers and prophets, mega-venues, tiny clubs, films, unbelievably generous free events, live broadcasts, workshops and even jazz for toddlers- it’s got the whole menu covered. For ten days every darkening November London is jumping, celebrating the broad church of jazz, acknowledging the music’s roots in Black culture and generating a glow of creative energy.
Obviously this year festival has taken a COVID hit but it has emerged from the ever tightening lockdown grip on nightlife with a defiant programme that won’t be switched off. So far the festival team have confirmed 100 live shows and 50 specially created streams taking place in 25 venues spread over just 10 days!
So what is there for Back Seat Mafia people to look out for? The live gigs include nu-jazz/new wave high rollers Seed Ensemble paying tribute to Pharoah Saunders and the princely Shabaka Hutchings re-connecting with the Britten Sinfonia, both at the Barbican. Elsewhere Tenderlonius has 22a showcase at Shoreditch Town Hall while Laura Jurd’s dynamic Dinosaur and sax dynamo Binker Golding explore King’s Place. Binker’s buddy Moses Boyd is part of a stellar quartet (with Nathaniel Facey, Shirley Tetteh and Gary Crosby) paying respect to Charlie Parker’s century at the venerable Church of Sound and James Holden, synth warrior, improvs with clarinetist Waclaw Simpel at the Jazz Café. In this time of live music drought the tickets are bound to fly but many of the shows are being streamed- so don’t miss out.
Talking of streams, the festival’s digital offering beats box set binging any day. How about this: Sarathy Korwar and Emma-Jean Thackray at the Total Refreshment Centre; curated nights from labels Border Community, Erased Tapes and The Spectacular Empire; and a hook up with Chicago’s International Anthem records introducing new music from Ben Lamar Gay. Plus, if the signals dodgy, there is always good old BBC Four with programmes on the current UK jazz boom and the legendary Ronnie Scott’s. So stock up on your popcorn and beers well in advance.
And really that is only a hint of what is on offer during the festival week. Check out the full programme (available now at the link below), plan your own feast and give yourself something to look forward to….