The EFG London Jazz Festival will once again deliver a range of music that crosses continents, genres and generations. Its listings will spread across the entire city and it’s remarkable that so much can be fitted into just one week. All this makes it impossible to review the whole festival because there is just too much. I have picked out three highlights of the festival that I won’t be missing (and neither should you).
Anyone who has been to Church of Sound knows it is one of the best regular jazz events in London. They have championed new and upcoming UK jazz musicians, as well as showcasing some slightly older legends on the circuit. For the Jazz Festival, they are bringing back Billy Harper, who played as part of The Cookers in a breath-taking show back in May. The Cookers sold out two nights at the Church and dazzled the audiences on both nights. On the Thursday, London legend Shabaka Hutchins pitted himself against Billy Harper in a solo. Needless to say, it was very clear where the new crop of UK jazz was at compared to the American legends of the circuit. Finishing the first set with ‘Croquet Ballet’, the audience was up on their feet at possibly the earliest point in any Church of Sound event before or since. Returning with a pimped-out quartet featuring some of London’s contemporary stars, and a back catalogue able to rival any of the jazz greats, this intimate show is not to be missed.
Bugge Wesseltoft, Magnus Öström, Dan Berglund (RYMDEN) @ Southbank Centre (Thursday 22nd November 2018)
Three legends of Scandinavian jazz will come together for this show at the Southbank Centre. Bugge Wesseltoft, one of the best contemporary pianists in the world, will be joined by long-time collaborator and bassist Dan Berglund as well as Magnus Öström, a drummer who is also part of the Esbjörn Svensson Trio with Berglund. This show will be fiery and flirt with electronics, displaying an amazing showcase of flourishing Scandi-jazz. Having played jazz festivals before as a trio, Rymden is a subtle three-piece that floats between fast-paced, erratic jazz and a gentler minimalist sound. Rymden means ‘space’ in Swedish, and you can expect this show to explore the density and length of space between the beat the instruments, and between themselves and the audience.
The EFG London Jazz Festival is not just about the big stars from overseas, it also provides a great display of local talent, whether that be the evergreen Orphy Robinson or newcomers such as the SEED Ensemble. Lead by Cassie Kinoshi, the changing ensemble sees itself as more of a collective than a fixed ensemble. The members can change from night to night and, even though they have only been going for a few years, they have drawn a lot of praise and were second on the billing at Jazz Re:Fest in Brighton this year. Cassie Kinoshi, from Nerijia and KOKOROKO, has a great stage presence and maintains a consistent presence in SEED. Her music is not only great to listen to, but also relevant and touches on sounds and events in London.
These three shows are a drop in the ocean of a fantastic festival with a wide range of music, so my advice would be to get on the listings and go to anything and everything– It’s all good stuff!