EFG London Jazz Festival 2020 Full Programme Announced for Live and Online Edition

Mike Flynn
Thursday, September 24, 2020

The capital’s biggest live music event returns in a hybrid edition bringing converts in venues and livestreamed shows together for the first time

LJF artists L-to-R: Linda May Han Oh, Tenderlonious, Shabaka Hutchings and Yazz Ahmed
LJF artists L-to-R: Linda May Han Oh, Tenderlonious, Shabaka Hutchings and Yazz Ahmed

The organisers of the EFG London Jazz Festival have revealed the programme for this year’s very different festival which will be running live and online from 13 to 22 November with 110 shows, 25 specially created livestreams (so far), taking place in 30 venues around the capital. Set against a backdrop of extremely tough times for the live music sector the festival’s director Pelin Opcin said: “In this unprecedented year, we've managed to transform the challenges into a positive motivation. Inspired by the creative response of artists, musicians and the scene in general, we’ve worked together to make the Festival happen and can’t wait to share the buzzing music of the UK, alongside unique performances by international artists with a global audience.

The live gigs kick off with the opening night gala, Jazz Voice, which will be at Cadogan Hall for the first time, with composer/arranger Guy Barker leading the LJF Jazz Ensemble and guest vocalists China Moses, David McAlmont, Luca Manning and Cleveland Watkiss, with the evening hosted by broadcaster Jumoké Fashola. Other bigger shows include two nights at the Barbican featuring Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED ENSEMBLE (14 Nov), celebrating the music of Pharoah Sanders who turns 80 this year, and Shabaka Hutchings collaborating with the Britten Sinfonia (18 Nov) to perform Aaron Copland’s Americana piece, Appalachian Spring.

Elsewhere the programme shines a light on many of London venues with each presenting its own set of interconnected gigs within the festival. These include fiery multi-reedist Tenderlonious who takes over Shoreditch Town Hall to present two projects with his groove-heavy band Ruby Rushdon, plus his flute-led tribute to Tubby Hayes (The Piccolo) and a DJ set with Dennis Ayler.

 Tomorrow’s Warriors have a strong programme at Church of Sound with its alumni of Nathaniel Facey, Shirley Tetteh and Moses Boyd lining up to celebrate the riches of the Charlie Parker songbook in his centenary year. Kings Place presents such leading UK artists as Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur, trumpeter Yazz Ahmed’s electronica-infused Arabic jazz, top saxophonist Jason Yarde and his ACOUTASTiC BOMBASTiC ensemble, guitarist Matt Calvert’s finely poised acoustic work ‘Typewritten’, plus free-form funkiness from Ill Considered and soulful post-bop from tenorist Binker Golding.

Performances at Camden’s Jazz Cafe include brilliant Polish clarinettist Waclaw Zimpel collaborating with innovative electronicist James Holden, saxophonist Camilla George and the Kansas Smittys House Band. PizzaExpress Holborn’s line-up includes a new project from ECM-signed pianist Kit Downes and Korean composer SooJin Suh, while its sister venues at Dean Street and The Pheasantry host gigs from Henry Lowther’s Still Waters, Xhosa Cole, Norma Winstone with Nikki Iles, and Stan Sulzmann and Jeanie Barton with Tony Kofi.

Further events taking place will include a collaborative audio-visual piece from British performance artist GAIKA with rapper and singer Azekel & Miink at Café OTO, while award-winning bassist Shri Sriram creates a live soundtrack for some Jazz Yoga with yoga teacher Constanza Ruff at Islington Town Hall. Other major venues, including Ronnie Scott’s, are set to announce shows soon.

The extensive livestreaming programme includes high-profile names such as Armenian piano star Tigran Hamasyan who performs solo versions of music from his recently released album The Call Within, while leading US bassist Linda May Han Oh will perform with her new trio of Vincent Peirani and Emile Parisien from Paris. Specially created films from emergent British artists will feature Sarathy Korwar, Rosie Turton and Emma-Jean Thackray at Total Refreshment Centre, while the festival’s close ties with cutting-edge Chicago label International Anthem, will see two of its artists appear trumpeter Ben Lamar Gay’s new sound and movement piece, plus the fiery free jazz and spoken word collective Irreversible Entanglements. 

The LJF’s participation programme goes online this year with Juliet Kelly’s Jazz Kids storytelling session, plus masterclasses with band-leader Peter Edwards,  improvisation with artists Rob Luft and Elina Duni, a mental health and wellbeing workshop from counsellor Denise Devenish and the playful Orphy Robinson’s Virtual Jazz Club Band.

There will be a series of performances from Takes Five Presents, showcasing the participants of festival organiser’s Serious’ Take Five talent development scheme featuring rising stars Archipelago, Glasshopper, J Frisco, Jasdeep Singh Degun, Jelly Cleaver, John Pope, Noemi Nuti, Robocobra Quartet, Samuel Eagles and Skeltr.

International connections are also explored with concerts beamed in from Vilnius, Istanbul and Swiss jazz artists. Jazzwise writer and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre will also host a series of discussions under the banner ARTicle 10: Conversations in the era of Black Lives Matter – these will be in the form of in-depth discussions with six guests, talking about race, racism and the need for change within the music industry. The award-winning reincarnation of Jazz 625 returns to BBC FOUR on Friday 20 November to celebrate the recent resurgence of UK jazz with a line-up of key artists including Sons of Kemet, Matthew Halsall, Sarathy Korwar, Moses Boyd Exodus, with more artists still to be added, while BBC FOUR will also host the final of the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition. There are also plans to celebrate the life and work of one of the festival’s founders, John Cumming, who died in May, which will include a livetream created by Peter Wiegold from Club Inégales. Jazzwise is festival media partner.

For a comprehensive guide to the festival updated regularly please go to our new website


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