With a program that consistently attracts a host of wonderful performers and where living legends appear alongside rising stars, London Jazz Festival (LJF) opens at The Barbican this Friday with a spectacular celebration of 100 years of songwriting. Led by trumpeter/arranger extraordinaire Guy Barker, a 40-piece jazz orchestra and a dazzling array of stellar vocalists draw on significant anniversaries of jazz songs, films, singers and songwriters. Musical selections from Johnny Mercer and Billie Holiday, as well as instrumental tributes to Davis, Brubeck, Coltrane and Coleman (whose iconic albums all hit 50 this year) will leave the capital in no doubt that the 10 day jazz train has rolled into town.
Amongst the extensive and eclectic line-up are stars from the jazz tradition including sax colossus Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Carla Bley, Dave Holland and Branford Marsalis. Banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck, John Scofield and Bill Frisell appear together in a specially commissioned project with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Detroit-born violinist Regina Carter and percussionist Lukas Ligeti bring us exotic rhythms combined with edgy improv, and Mama Africa is a joyous celebration of the voice of Miriam Makeba led by Angelique Kidjo and featuring Baaba maal.
Mixing the familiar with the new, the traditional with the experimental, infusing cultural flavours and other genres - the festival promotes a broad definition of Jazz which provides for many tastes and which always appeals to new audiences. Festival goers also get the chance to take part in the pre-concert talk series Hear Me Talkin' To Ya, and attend masterclasses with leading jazz musicians, while thousands of London youngsters can participate in workshops and other events. Bring it on...
London Jazz Festival 13-22 Nov
photo by Suke Driver