This year’s EFG London Jazz festival will bring together a wide range of international jazz artists, as well as top local talents. There aren’t many UK Jazz artists as important to the scene as Orphy Robinson; with a history of musical directing, performing and composing, asking one of the UK’s most thoughtful jazz artists to lead a performance of Astral Weeks is a minor stroke of genius by the team behind the jazz festival. The performance celebrates the 50-year anniversary of the seminal album being released.
Astral Weeks is an album that is as jazzy as it is folky; as turbulent and rough as it is gentle and soft: It is the rare combination of an album that you can dose off to one moment and then find yourself vigorously dancing to a moment later. As a cross-genre, mainstream album, it is the perfect choice for the jazz festival and seems to be part of a wider push to cross genres in this year’s festival.
The show will doubtlessly be on a grand scale, taking place in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which will hold several of the headline shows for the festival. Having reopened earlier this year, the venue is being utilised by the festival as much as possible.
With a full band of stars including guitarist Tony Rémy and vocalists Zara McFarlane and Sarah Jane Morris, this is set to be one of the highlights of the festival. Robinson’s history of working on large projects and re-imaginations is second-to-none and it is exciting to hear what he will do with such an acutely experimental album that contains so many layers and subtleties of sound.
To hear this combination of brilliant contemporary jazz artists paying tribute to this classic album will undoubtedly be exhilarating and not to be missed.