According to the BBC’s Jez Nelson, it is “The Best Jazz Festival on The Planet,” and we’ll not disagree. With over 2,000 artists, over 50 venues and over 300 gigs it is also one of the biggest. This year, like the 22 years before it will bring some of the biggest names for the EFG London Jazz Festival 2015. Starting on Friday 13 November you’ll be in for a treat…
As is tradition the Friday night Jazz Voice show at the Barbican is one of the highlights. Among the featured voices is Becca Stevens whose new album Perfect Animal is on Universal Music Classics…and if you’ve not checked her out then we urge you to do so. The following night, Saturday 14 November, Becca is back, this time supporting Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn at the Southbank.
Also on Friday, and if vocal jazz is not your thing, but jazz guitar is, then the Club Inégales is the place to be. Lionel Loueke is one of the finest guitar players around, as anyone who witnessed last year’s Blue Note 75th band concert at the festival. And to be honest, Lionel will pitch in with a few vocals too.
Also on Saturday night there’s what is expected to be another festival highlight at the Barbican. What’s billed as ‘New Jazz, New Dance’ is Gilles Peterson’s night with Kamasi Washington, Gogo Penguin and Lynne Page.
On Sunday there’s the chance to hear one of the great jazz singers of the modern era, the brilliant Cassandra Wilson; she’s playing the Southbank and we’re just hoping she reprises something from her masterwork, Blue Light ‘Til Dawn. The same evening at The Barbican New Orleans legend, Allen Toussaint will be appearing.
Kurt Elling is a peerless vocalist as he will yet again prove when he plays The Cadogan Hall on Monday 16 November. Kurt’s latest album, Passion World, will be featured and his performance will have you spellbound, especially if you’ve never seen him perform on stage.
On the same night the brilliant Steve Gadd, drummer to everyone, will be playing Ronnie Scott’s with his band. That same night Christian Scott will be at Rich Mix; if you’ve never listened to this brilliant trumpeter from New Orleans you’re missing out. Our last pick from Monday’s shows is Canadian vocalist Molly Johnson. Her most recent album is Because of Billie on which she interprets Miss Holiday’s music, and does it brilliantly. Head on over to a late night session at the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room, it will be sultry and sexy.
For many one of the festival high points will be Melody Gardot. Her album released earlier this year, her Decca album, Currency Of Man is ever-present on the uDiscover jazz playlist… Melody plays The Royal Festival Hall on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, trumpeter, Ibrahim Maalouf will be playing the Barbican Hall, his latest impulse albums, Kalthoum and Red & Black Light are causing a lot of ripples on the European jazz scene.
On Thursday the fabulous José James plays the first of three nights at Ronnie Scott’s. Anyone luckily enough to see him at the same venue, earlier this year when he was doing songs from his Blue Note album, Yesterday I Had The Blues – The Music Of Billie Holiday were spellbound. Just be there!
Friday night is Keith Jarrett night, the pianist will be playing the Barbican, but don’t get your hopes up, it is already a sell out. That same night at The Cadogan Hall, Lush Life – the songs of Billy Strayhorn, a tribute to Duke Ellington’s long time collaborator promises to be wonderful.
Later that same evening, Terence Blanchard Featuring The E Collective are playing The Barbican and will be performing music from their latest Blue Note album, Breathless. Those lucky enough to see Terence at the Love Supreme Festival this summer know what to expect…again, just be there!
We’ve just picked some of the highlights from among the Universal artists appearing at the festival. For a complete run down of the gigs just click here.