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Rosy Moorhead discovers a wealth of international talent at the London Jazz Festival
THE London Jazz Festival is the capital’s biggest pan-city music festival, taking place annually in November. One of the UK’s landmark music events, the festival showcases a heady mix of talent from around the world, delivering world-class artists and emerging stars and taking jazz to a massive audience.
The festival began life in the 1970s as a jazz week added on to the end of the long-established Camden Festival, and evolved into the London Jazz Festival in 1992, after the Camden Festival closed down.
Taking the mix of international and British artists – and a commitment to education activity – that had been at the heart of the Camden weeks, the new festival began to spread its wings. The intention is to celebrate the place of jazz in a city that was becoming at ease with its rich cultural diversity, and drawing in the venues across London that present the music, week in, week out, throughout the year.
Over the years, the festival has made a steady transition from north London to London-wide, and from May to its present November slot, to establish today’s multi-faceted, ten-day event.
It has grown to be not only London’s largest city-wide music festival, but a major international jazz event.
JAZZ FESTIVAL LISTINGS:
ARTSDEPOT, NORTH FINCHLEY
- Amira and Bojan Z – Friday, November 9 at 8pm
Award-winning French/Serbian pianist Bojan Z joins forces with Bosnia’s answer to Billie Holiday, singer-songwriter Amira, to turn the oral histories of Bosnia and Serbia inside out, performing innovative hybrids of Balkan musical forms within the context of a tradition that’s hundreds of years old.
- Hyperpotamus – Sunday, November 11 at 1pm
A one-man orchestra without the orchestra, Spanish multi-vocal solo artist Hyperpotamus produces music using only his voice, a few microphones and a loop pedal.
After spending six months honing his craft in the underground tunnels of Madrid’s Metro system, he found himself playing in front of thousands of people all over Spain, and has since released two albums and toured worldwide. Be able to say you saw him first.
- Life is for Living: The Peggy Lee Project featuring Gwyneth Herbert – Thursday, November 15 at 7.30pm
Backed by Alyn Shipton’s terrific Buck Clayton’s Legacy Band, vocalist extraordinaire Gwyneth Herbert fronts a fascinating exploration into the world of the inimitable Peggy Lee, whose tales of lost and found love have captivated generations.
- Dimitri Vassilakis – Saturday, November 17 at 7.30pm
Described by BBC Music Magazine as “a rhapsodic stylist of immense power and authority...revered as the Hellenic god of post modern expression”, Greek saxophonist Dimitri Vassilakis is a dynamic live performer.
Joined here by an exciting band of Greek and British musicians, he brings his high-flying style to the London Jazz Festival.
- Bianca Rose – Sunday, November 18 at 1pm
Singer-songwriter and ukulele player Bianca Rose intertwines soul and folk music, laced with delicate melodies and insightful lyrics.
She performs material from her recently released EP No Fear Hear, produced by Femi Temowo.
LA BROCCA, WEST HAMPSTEAD
- Kai’s Cats – Thursday, November 15 at 8.30pm
Led by the Queen of Vintage Vocals Miss Kai Hoffman, Kai’s Cats have been resident at the UK’s finest jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s, with their own monthly swing and jive club night, since 2008.
They promise a night of vintage jazz, rhythm ‘n’ blues and jumpin’ jive, in the tradition of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Prima.