This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival kicks off in two weeks’ time and runs from 15 to 24 November, with a vast array of club and concert hall gigs as well as free shows and talks across all forms of contemporary jazz, with something for hardcore fans and novices alike.
The opening night alone (15 Nov) is indicative of the contrasting line-up, featuring gigs from saxophonist Steve Williamson with StringTing (PizzaExpress Jazz Club, Soho); a Blow the Fuse 30th anniversary triple-bill topped by Alison Rayner Quintet (Hall One, Kings Place); a three-night residency from Dutch post-punk guitar fiends The Ex to mark their 40th anniversary (Cafe OTO, Dalston); fiery funk bass boss Victor Wooten and his Wooten Brothers Band (Ronnie Scott’s) and sublime Brazilian-tinged sounds from Da Lata (Hideaway, Streatham).
Further gigs across the capital include a recently announced show from iconoclastic art-punk, Iggy Pop. He headlines the Barbican on 21 November, with an exclusive performance of music from his acclaimed recent album, Free. There are several nights at Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club, which hosts top guitarists Raul Midón (16 Nov) and John Scofield with John Cleary (17 Nov), plus the irrepressible Swiss vocalist Andreas Schaerer with Italian accordionist Luciano Biondini (17 Nov), while neighbouring Ronnie Scott’s features the maverick Brazilian jazz genius Hermeto Pascoal (18-19 Nov), with a further tribute to his music from Iain Ballamy at the Omnibus Theatre, Clapham (24 Nov). Other intimate highlights are happening at Chelsea’s 606 Club that packs in Jim Mullen’s Volunteers (1.30pm, 17 Nov); the stellar Larry Goldings/Peter Bernstein/Bill Stewart Trio (20 Nov); saxophonist Tim Garland’s heavy-hitting One band (21 Nov) and fellow hornman Denys Baptiste who celebrates the music of Joe Henderson (23 Nov).
On the other side of town, Dalston’s Vortex’s line-up includes the Calum Gourlay Big Band (19 Nov) and US sax firebrand David Murray alongside renowned Austrian trombonist Paul Zauner’s Blue Brass, featuring bassist Wolfram Derschmidt and drummer Dusan Novakov (22 Nov), and nearby Cafe OTO has a three-night residency from French double-bassist/vocalist Joëlle Léandre who collaborates with Maggie Nichols, Matana Roberts, Alexander Hawkins and Roger Turner in duo and trio formations (18-20 Nov). And Camden’s Jazz Café will host sets from the Fatback Band (15 Nov); Joao Donato (16 Nov); acclaimed vocalist Bilal (21 Nov); groove-crew Cykada (22 Nov) and the Mercury-nominated SEED Ensemble (pictured below, 24 Nov).
The delicious acoustics of St John’s Smith Square will be the location for three concerts, from masterful pianists Stephanie Trick and Paolo Alderighi (22 Nov), the harmonious vocal stylings of multi-Grammy winners The Swingles (23 Nov) and a double-bill of The Music of Gil Evans with rare live performances of Porgy and Bess and Miles Ahead scores (24 Nov). And, in central London, the Wigmore Hall offers a chance to hear top Swedish bassist Lars Danielsson with his stellar band of pianist Grégory Privat, guitarist John Parricelli and drummer Magnus Öström (19 Nov).
The festival reaches out to new jazz audiences via an abundance of free and nearly-free entry shows. Two highlights take place at Islington’s Union Chapel, with Daylight Music presenting contrasting bills of Norwegian Hardanger fiddle player Nils Økland and saxophonist Helena Kay (16 Nov), followed by multi-instrumentalist Jherek Bischoff alongside sax/ guitar duo Robert Stillman and Anders Holst, plus rising jazz-singer songwriter Rosie Frater-Taylor (23 Nov).
Elsewhere, the Southbank’s Clore Ballroom will be bursting with musicians when it hosts Breaking The Silence – a talk and performance with young players and guests Orphy Robinson, Jenny Adejayan and Ineza Kerschkamp tackling the subject of Remembrance (3pm, 10 Nov), which will be followed by Tim Garland and the Royal Academy Of Music Ensemble (6pm) who play special arrangements of music from his albums ONE, Weather Walker and Return To The Fire. The second weekend at the Clore Ballroom presents Bitches Brew, a showcase of current female jazz talent curated by singer/broadcaster Emma Smith and featuring saxophonist Rachael Cohen, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Hannah Read, harpist Ailie Robertson, and percussion and double bass duo Signy + Emma (2-6pm, 24 Nov). All these gigs join those already announced in for the festival. For the full line-up and tickets visit for the festival.
For the full line-up and tickets www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk