November is a long way off but the London Jazz Festival (in association with BBC Radio 3) is so big it has to be announced in stages. It claims to be the “capital’s biggest pan-city music festival” and with gigs in over 50 venues, from the mighty Barbican Centre to tiny jazz bolt-holes, a massive amount of London’s annual jazz is consumed in these ten autumn days.
The festival’s reputation is partly built on the variety of its programme, embracing the commercial and exploratory sides of the music, as well as regional jazz from all over the world. Some of the bigger events are put on sale in the spring and are long sold out by the time the festival takes shape as a whole, so it's worth getting in there early. Here are some highlights from the 13 events to have been announced:
Tradition has it that the LJF opens with a vocal night. On 11 November at the Barbican a range of singing talent (yet to be announced) performs with the 40-piece festival orchestra. The draw here is British trumpeter/composer Guy Barker, who is arranging the scores and conducting the band. It should be an electric start to the festival.
On the same night at the Royal Festival Hall, there's a very different gig. Indian tabla drummer Zakir Hussain performs with sitarist Niladri Kumar and other percussionists in what promises to be the festival’s key Indian music event.
The LJF always features jazz royalty, old timers from the music’s golden age. They don’t come much more distinguished than McCoy Tyner, pianist in John Coltrane’s legendary quartet. Going strong at 73, Tyner is joined by today’s star tenor sax, Chris Potter, at the Barbican on 12 November for a concert celebrating a particularly special Coltrane recording on the Impulse! label.
Another senior pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim, plays Wigmore Hall on 18 November. The hall’s excellent acoustic should suit the lyrical South African’s style down to the ground.