Review: 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival Launch. BBC Jazz on 3 at Ronnie Scott's. 15 November 2013

Shabaka Hutchings and Oren Marshall. 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival Launch
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2013. All Rights Reserved

2013 EFG London Jazz Festival Launch
(BBC Jazz on 3 at Ronnie Scott's, 15 November 2013; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

What a great start to the 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival – incredibly, the twenty-first - a buzzy, warm and exciting launch of the Festival by BBC’s ‘Jazz on 3’ at Ronnie’s – apparently 14,000 ticket applications were received!

Great music – Laura Kinsella's trio (with Julian Siegel) gave a captivating, left-field performance before the broadcast got under way (but recorded for a future programme) – she rethinks scat and song with a deeply poetic spirit, more Ulysses than Gershwin, and is Jez Nelson’s hot tip for 2014. Martin Medeski Wood got in to their jammin’ groove to kick off the broadcast, welling Hammond, a touch of clavinet, and a mean dollop of crisp, festering funk. Sons of Kemet were on great form, Shabaka Hutching’s rolling sax trading it with Oren Marshall’s tuba (on an extraordinarily engineered instrument – a sculpture to behold!) and the twin drums of Rochford and Skinner, in perfect synch. Esteemed bassist, Arild Andersen’s trio with Tommy Smith’s assured sax were lyrical, thoughtful, and brushed Ronnie’s with that indefinable essence of ECM, the label he’s been recording for since 1970.

The surprise package were last onstage, at a quarter to one. The astounding, young New York-based quartet led by Cuban percussionist, Pedrito Martinez just blew the roof off the place! With Jhair Sala, second percussionist, from Lima; electric bassist, Alvaro Benavides, from Caracas; and keyboard player/vocalist, Araicne Trujillo, from Havana; they had the magic that the ace Cuban/Latin/Jazz outfits have – they’d absorbed it all and it came out sounding newly minted and bristling with life. The sound had a uniquely sharp, near-metallic edge, the energy and momentum were infectious, and the vibe between the four of them was perfectly poised – they ‘had it’. The impact was spine-tingling - just get out to see them if you can. They are at the QEH on Sunday 17 Nov. Somebody bring them back!

Image of the evening – Arild Andersen carrying his hefty bass horizontally, spike forward, as he weaved his way through the crowd to the exit – he was also amused!

And a tremendous feat of sound engineering and logistics to have it all happen so smoothly; you couldn’t hear the joins but could watch producer Peggy Sutton holding up fingers to performers to indicate how many minutes were left as they neared the end of each set. A terrific evening which you can hear in its entirely on iPlayer for a few more days.

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