Report: 2013 Canary Wharf Jazz Festival

Ian Shaw at 2013 Canary Wharf Jazz Festival 

Sebastian writes:

The first time the free admission Canary Wharf Jazz Festival was held in its current location of Canada Square was in 2009. I went, I saw, and  I WROTE.

Four years later, it has evolved. More people know about it now, but it keeps the same friendly vibe of a festival in a pretty town square in, say Delft, or Vence.  Compared to the early days it now gets much busier earlier in the day, but people are relaxed, there are pushchairs and Baby Bjorns a-plenty.

Jason Rebello. Canary Wharf  2013. Photo credit: Aleatorus

I missed far more than I heard: I caught the sets today, the final day, by Jason Rebello (plus vocalist Joy Rose, Keyboard/pecussion/ singer Xantone Blacq, bassist Alex Davis and drummer Jeremy Stacey.) I reviewed Jason Rebello a couple of weeks ago, and maintain the idea that his re-connection with jazz is clearly a happy one for him. Today he was letting a Mini Moog have the treatment, and got spontaneous and well-deserved applause for it. I'd go further about that re-connection:  the feeling is mutual. A lot of jazz musicians and regular gig-goers had popped into Canary Wharf to listen today, and the reflection that it's great to welcome him back was palpable.

Joy Rose. Canary Wharf 2013. Photo Credit Paul Wood

Ian Shaw had a top class Frith Street All Stars-ish kind of a band: James Pearson energetic on piano and Fender Rhodes, Geoff Gascoyne the complete pro on electric bass, Dave Ohm ditto at the kit, with Polly Gibbons as popped-in guest vocalist. Ian Shaw was taking the spirits of Joni Mitchell and Van Morrison of the glass walls of the skyscrapers, and really connecting with the audience spread out on the lawn.

The whole vibe is friendly. Peter Conway and team have got this one right.


  1. We did get a different, anonymous perspective from a reader - it found its way as a comment under our 2009 report:

    I disagree about the sound quality -- I found it painfully over-amplified, with excessive bass volume making the bass players sound mediocre while drowning out the piano players. This based on seeing the whole of Zoe Rahman's set and the start of Jason Rebello's (both of which I had been looking forward to).

  2. The sound quality varied, and it also depends a LOT on which bit of the square you sit in. But yes I think there is a tendency for sound engineers to hugely exaggerate the bass in that venue for some reason, for example Puppini Sisters at the City of London Festival on the same stage a few weeks back was so bass heavy that at certain points it was a struggle to hear any harmony. Soweto's great set on Friday night had huge amounts of bass, but you could argue for that being an appropriate decision considering it was predominantly rap - it didn't mask the vocals or drums, there was a large crowd who loved it, and he even made clever references to the bass in his rap. On Saturday afternoon, the bass seemed far more balanced - for example Troyka's set sounded stunningly good!

  3. excellent event. sound at the front was fine until on the Saturday one artist chose to go for volume rather than quality! Camera work was excellent too, very professional