Cadogan Hall presents 15 concerts as part of the annual EFG London Jazz Festival, celebrating the music of jazz legends and showcasing the work of new emerging talent. This year’s Festival highlights include a string of specially created shows: Sam Amidon, James Taylor Quartet (as part of the EFG Excellence Series), a Haitian night with Melissa Laveaux and Leyla McCalla and a brilliant double-bill from Davina & the Vagabonds and Natalie Williams. The Festival also brings a world class free stage programme with artists including: Georgia Mancio and Martin Speake.
The Tord Gustavsen Trio opens the Festival’s concerts at the Hall on Friday 16 November: the Norwegian jazz pianist’s music continues to enchant and evolve, reaching out to an ever-growing audience with a blend of memorable melody, subtle groove, and a gentle depth of purpose. He is joined by bassist Sigurd Hole and drummer Jarle Vespestad. Composer and jazz singer Elina Duni also performs on the evening alongside guitarist and rising star of today’s UK scene, Rob Luft. Duni’s latest project, an ECM recording, ranges through traditional music from Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Arab-Andalusia as well songs by Jacques Brel and her own music.
As well as starring in Jurassic Park, Independence Day and The Fly, Hollywood legend Jeff Goldblum also plays a mean jazz piano. On Saturday 17 November, due to popular demand Goldblum gives an afternoon and evening performance with his band The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra. The band play loose, improvised versions of jazz standards from Summertime to Stella By Starlight. It’s taken them 20 years to get to London for this special Festival show ahead of their debut album release later this year on Decca. To finish the weekend Bill Frisell performs on Sunday 18 November; his new album Music IS covers Bill’s own music as far back as his first ECM albums. This rare concert will use these albums as a jumping-off point to explore his whole career as one the world’s most adventurous guitarists.
Newly formed project, Martin Speake’s Charukesi, begin the week on Monday 19 November. The project including alto saxophonist Martin Speake, tenor saxophonist/clarinettist Alyson Cawley, guitarist Rob Luft and percussionist Will Glasser, was formed to reflect Martin’s interest in rhythmic music from around the world including Arabic, Indian and Turkish influences. The evening sees Sam Amidon present an expansive concert programme with a one-off dream band. The concert will feature Amidon’s vocals, banjo, fiddle and guitar in collaboration with top UK musicians: trumpeter Byron Wallen, saxophonist James Allsopp, Kit Downes on piano and organ, acoustic bassist Larry Bartley and Chris Vatalaro on drums.
On Tuesday 20 November acclaimed singer and mentor to Oscar and Grammy-winner Sam Smith, Joanna Eden performs the songs of Stephen Sondheim from her own, jazz-influenced and heart-filled perspective. Joining Joanna on stage in the Culford Room is the George Double Trio with Gerry Hunt on guitar and reeds, Russell Swift on bass and George Double on drums. In the evening, singers Leyla McCalla and Melissa Laveaux who combine deep roots in Haiti and the USA come together for one special concert. Leyla’s music explores the themes of social justice and a pan-African consciousness, whilst Melissa is inspired by the militant voice of legendary Haitian singer Martha Jean-Claude.
On Wednesday 21 November another newly formed project, The Fishwick Brothers Quintet perform an afternoon of swinging tunes from the hard bop era played by five of London’s top straight-ahead jazz musicians. Steve Fishwick (trumpet), Dave O’Higgins (tenor saxophone), Rob Barron (piano), Dario De Lecce (bass) and Matt Fishwick (drums) perform the timeless compositions of two pianist/composers associated with the hard bop era of jazz and the Blue Note Record label: Cedar Walton and Duke Pearson. Although some of these tunes have become jazz standards (Walton’s Bolivia and Ugetsu, and Pearson’s Jeanine for example) there is a great wealth of material by these composers that is very rarely played. This project aims to redress the balance, bring these tunes to a new audience and generally celebrate the work of these great jazz artists. The evening sees the James Taylor Quartet and Orchestra premiere their new album recorded at Abbey Road, Soundtrack from Electric Black. Combining the influences of Lalo Schifrin and Oliver Nelson in James’ own very distinctive way, it is beautifully cinematic and dramatic, with a great mix of Hammond- driven funk and glorious strings.
Award-winning vocalist Georgia Mancio brings her new trio, Quadro (meaning ‘picture’ in Italian), with much lauded pianist Frank Harrison and bassist Andrew Cleyndert to the Hall on Thursday 22 November. The group have performed in venues across the country performing jazz and Brazilian standards alongside reinvented classical repertoire by composers including; Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Tom Jobim, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Artie Shaw and Waldemar Henrique. The evening sees Davina and The Vagabonds perform an evening of jazz, blues, soul, swing, rock ‘n’ roll and more. Davina appeals to audiences with power, emotion and sincerity; her shows are filled with New Orleans charm and Memphis soul swagger. To begin the evening Natalie Williams steps out from the Soul Family to play her own show with her band.
MOBO award-winning Kairos 4tet saxophonist, Adam Waldman performs with Mercury Prize-nominated bassist, Connor Chaplin and drummer Corrie Dick as a trio on Friday 23 November. The afternoon concert explores standards from past and present plus original compositions. The weekend kicks off in the evening with a very rare London show from Swedish star Lisa Ekdahl performing material from her new Sony album, More of the Good. Support comes from pianist Livio Minafra, with his own compositions swimming in a spontaneous mix of classical music, world music and jazz improvisation.
On Saturday 24 November, EFG London Jazz Festival presents The World Gone Mad - 1899-1919 Jass, Ragtime, Tin Pan Alley And The Blues. The evening forms parts of the Jazz Repertory Company’s 10th anniversary celebration of its association with Cadogan Hall. The programme features music of British composers and bands responding to the new musical influences coming from over the Atlantic. They end in 1919 as this was the year when the first American jazz bands visited Great Britain – the extraordinarily successful Original Dixieland Jazz Band and The Southern Syncopators featuring the great Sidney Bechet. Music of this time is now largely unknown. African-American and European traditions were blended to create something new which has dominated our musical lives ever since.
The Festival’s concerts at the Hall come to an end on Sunday 25 November with Caribbean legend Monty Alexander and his trio; JJ Shakur on bass and Jason Brown on drums. Alexander delights global audiences drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message with his repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expression – the American songbook and the blues, gospel and bebop, calypso and reggae. Support comes from Tomorrow’s Warriors Female Frontline; a band who embody the Warrior sprit in more than just serious musical talent and looks set to expose yet another generation of fantastic jazz artists to eagerly awaiting audiences. The band deliver a set of upbeat jazz standards, funky grooves and a contemporary take on some well-known classics.