A Complete Guide to EFG London Jazz Festival 2019

Will Rathbone

The EFG London Jazz Festival is by far the biggest date in London’s jazz calendar, with events taking place across the capital from 15 - 24 November. Here’s our guide of what to expect. Returning for a 27th year, the 2019 edition of the EFG London Jazz Festival puts on a huge and varied spread - featuring everything from legendary musician Herbie Hancock to a live-scored film screening - so there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. 

What to see if you like… VOCALISTS
The Grand Opening Gala, at Festival Hall on 15 November, sees singers from across the jazz spectrum perform unique vocal arrangements accompanied by a 42-piece orchestra created especially for the festival. This year’s concert features acoustic singer-songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae, who also performs at Queen Elizabeth Hall on 18 November for her first headline London show in three years. Anyone seeking contemporary work should check out Lucia Cadotsch, whose trio renovate tracks from the Great American Songbook and place them straight into the 21st century. 
What to see if you like… HOT YOUNG THINGS
Drummer Makaya McCraven blends electronic music with his trademark pounding drums to create a powerful vision of jazz, and you can catch his electric live show at Village Underground on 19 November. Fusing jazz with pop music’s structure and melodic joy, the Christian Sands Trio play Cadogan Hall on 19 November, while trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah brings his innovative mix of jazz with West African and Caribbean rhythms to EartH on 16 November. Finally, fresh from a 2019 Mercury Prize nomination, Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED Ensemble take to the Jazz Café on 24 November to present their inner-city take on a West African/Caribbean jazz fusion. 
What to see if you like… JAZZ ROYALTY
Fans of Art Blakey’s seminal jazz group The Jazz Messengers need look no further than Cadogan Hall on 23 November. First up, one of the finest living saxophonists and a stalwart of The Jazz Messengers, Jean Toussaint, performs tracks from his new album, before Ralph Peterson: The Messenger Legacy sees the former Messengers drummer assemble an all-star group to pay homage to Blakey’s ground-breaking collective. It’s also worth joining the Jan Garbarek Group at the Barbican on 17 November, as the composer-saxophonist performs his trademark gorgeous, symphonic music.
What to see if you like… ORCHESTRAL JAZZ
Marius Neset: Viaduct sees the spirited Norwegian saxophonist showcase new work alongside the London Sinfonietta at Queen Elizabeth Hall on 21 November, while West Canadian siblings Ingrid & Christine Jensen perform their latest compositions with the female-led Whirlwind Recordings Jazz Orchestra. In a smorgasbord of orchestral goodness, the Queen Elizabeth Hall hosts an evening of new composition from the BBC Concert Orchestra, Nu Civilisation Orchestra, StringTing and Misha Mullov-Abbadoon 23 November.
What to see if you like… SOMETHING DIFFERENT
Of course, this being a jazz festival, things are bound to get a little avant-garde at some point. For something a little fruitier, why not try Battleship Potemkin - live soundtrack by Matt Calvert + Jan Bang which sees the groundbreaking piece of Russian cinema screened alongside a live soundtrack comprising guitars, keyboards and found sounds. Further visual stimulation comes in the form of Dan Tepfer: Natural Machines, at King’s Place on 24 November, a pianist/programmer whose own computer programme generates harmonies and visuals in response to Tepfer’s accomplished piano playing. Incredible stuff, as is Nik Bärtsch & Sophie Clements, who fuse Bärtsch’s compositions with Clements’ visual installations to stunning effect, at the Barbican on 15 November. 

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