Our regular Friday columnist Jack Davies previews the London Jazz Festival...
I'm looking forward to the London Jazz Festival . Among the higher profile gigs I have my eye on in particular are accordionist Richard Galliano's centenary tribute to film composer Nino Rota (Royal Festival Hall, Thursday 17th November) featuring American trumpeter Dave Douglas and expat British saxophonist John Surman.
Another treat in sttore is French saxophonist Michel Portal's international band (Queen Elzabeth Hall, Monday 14th November), which includes no less than Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Bojan Z on piano and Nasheet Waits on drums.
But while big name acts such as these.... and McCoy Tyner and Bill Frisell... will carry away the headlines and 5-star reviews at this year’s festival, the backbone of the ten day programme will be the performances by homegrown bands in the capital’s smaller venues.
Saxophonist George Crowley is playing on Tuesday 15th November at The Oxford, a venue he tirelessly promotes all throughout the year. Everyone who knows George’s playing will agree that he is one of the finest saxophonists on the London scene – a real improviser, backed up with instrumental intensity and an absorbing sense of tradition. Crowley’s compositions are sometimes strikingly stark (Still Life) and sometimes full of a passionate, lyrical joy. His quartet is completed by three musicians who have made a name for themselves as the Kit Downes Trio – Downes himself on piano, and the fantastic Calum Gourlay on bass and James Maddren on drums.
The quartet recently recorded an album which will be a must-buy when it emerges, but until then do not miss the chance to see some of the lifeblood of London’s jazz scene in one of the venues that supports new bands and new music all throughout the year.
Loop Collective’s Rory Simmons presents his large ensemble Fringe Magnetic in the plush surroundings of Kings Place’s Hall One on Saturday 19th November at 3pm. Where better to see what is essentially a chamber jazz ensemble than in London’s newest chamber music hall?
Alongside the contrasting sounds of Elisabeth Nygaard’s Nordic purity and the darkly gruff tone of Andrew Plummer, Fringe Magnetic comprises an impressive lineup of Loop regulars: Robin Fincker (clarinet), Tori Freestone (flute), James Allsopp (bass clarinet), Kit Massey (violin), Natalie Rosario (cello), Jasper Hoiby (bass), Ivo Neame (piano) and Ben Reynolds (drums). This is a thoughtful ensemble, encompassing delicate and aggressive moments, but always with a sense of optimism.
Simmons mainly uses this band as a vehicle for composition, but there will also be moments where he, as one of the country’s finest trumpet players, is showcased too.
The London Jazz Festival in association with Radio 3 runs from November 11th to November 20th