Preview: London Jazz Festival 2010

London Jazz Festival

London Jazz Festival: Soweto Kinch

The 18th London Jazz Festival, created and produced once again by international live music producers Serious, kicks off on 12th November for 10 days of pure jazz heaven.

With over 250 events at a multitude of venues across the capital, around a quarter of which are free, there should be something to suit everyone’s pocket and taste.

Featuring home-grown and international performers from across the generations, this year’s festival sees a particular emphasis on French, Scottish and Danish music, before the final weekend shifts the focus to the flourishing UK scene.

Further strands of exploration include Latin (in particular, Cuban) jazz, the big band sound, and the spirit of European cabaret.

Editors’ Pick: Five Unmissables

1. AfroCubism
Barbican, 21st November
World Circuit’s precursor to Buena Vista Social Club is finally realised with a fusion of the sounds of Cuba and Mali. Eliades Ochoa, Bassekou Kouyate and Toumani Diabaté are among the star names.

2. Matthew Herbert/London Sinfonietta
Royal Festival Hall, 20th November
Not content with releasing his One trilogy of albums through 2010, polymath Herbert has also reworked Mahler for a Deutsche Grammaphon release. In between he’s toured with bands and solo, taking in concert halls, clubs and festivals.

3. Jon Hendricks
Ronnie Scott’s, 18th, 19th and 20th November
At 89, vocalese pioneer Hendricks is one of the great survivors; his work dates back to the ’40s.

4. Arthur H + Arthur Jeffes
Queen Elizabeth Hall, 19th November
Jacques Brel interpreter Arthur H is supported by Penguin Cafe Orchestra founder Simon Jeffes’ son playing his first solo date.

5. Ute Lemper + Ballak Sissoko & Vincent Sgal
Queen Elizabeth Hall, 20th November
The cabaret star celebrates the tango and the music of Argentina’s Astor Piazzolla. A duet of kora and cello supports.

With such a range of concerts on offer it can be hazardous to single any out, but we’re particularly looking forward to those that celebrate the human voice. The Barbican provides the jewel in the crown of this strand on the festival’s opening night. Under the direction of Guy Barker, Jazz Voice: Celebrating A Century Of Song brings together a range of jazz, rock and soul vocal stars to perform groundbreaking songs from the past hundred years, all with grand orchestral scores. Four nights later the First Lady of Jazz, Dame Cleo Laine, hits the Barbican with a programme that also features her and the late John Dankworth‘s children, singer Jacqui Dankworth and bassist Alec Dankworth.

Monday 15th November could be a day to remember as it features, among other things, The Yaron Herman Trio and Budapest Bar in the South Bank Centre’s Purcell Room, and Courtney Pine and trumpeter Christian Scott at the Royal Festival Hall. Herman will be launching his new ACT Album, Follow The White Rabbit, while Pine will be premiering a new work that reflects on the continent of his birth (Europe), and Scott will be playing work from his new Decca album, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.

Quite rightly, Ronnie Scott’s is very much at the centre of affairs, and alongside a series of late night Jazz Jams, all beginning at 11pm, there are gigs from Chris Potter, Cedar Walton and Jon Hendricks. The good news is that all of these are on for more than one night, so you are less likely to be caught out by prior engagements.

Another venue that it would be a mistake to overlook is The Green Man. All four of its tremendous concerts are just 10, and we’ll be making a beeline for Peter King and the Henry Armburg-Jennings Quintet on 19th November.

Our top tip may not be an obvious choice, but we’re most looking forward to hearing the MOBO award-winner and Mercury Prize nominee Soweto Kinch premiere his latest album, The New Emancipation. Having received rave reviews, it uses a variety of musical styles to provide some deeply potent social commentaries on everything from slavery to contemporary race issues. With The Matthew Herbert Big Band‘s vocalist Eska Mtungwazi, plus Byron Wallen, Shabaka Hutchings and Femi Temowo all providing solo support, the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 18th November is surely the place to be.

London Jazz Festival takes place from 12-21 November 2010 in various London venues. Tickets and further information are available from

buy AfroCubism MP3s or CDs
Spotify AfroCubism on Spotify

More on AfroCubism
AfroCubism @ Barbican, London
AfroCubism – AfroCubism
Preview: London Jazz Festival 2010