EFG London Jazz Festival 2022
November 11 - November 20
The EFG London Jazz Festival is a highlight in UK capital’s music calendar explains Robert Spellman.
How wonderful it is to see live jazz return to the capital in November with the full restoration of the London Jazz Festival. Following the disappointment of cancellation caused by the pandemic last year, the event is back in 2021 with another fine bill of star acts and globe-wide talent and an offering of everything from trad jazz and songbook to the latest and most fiendish examinations of the genre.
It all takes place over 10 days and in more than 60 venues, from big halls to packed basements, and there are film screenings, free events and workshops open to everyone. Big attractions this year include Archie Shepp, Mike Westbrook, Dave Holland, Norma Winstone, Charles Lloyd, Eddie Henderson and Average White Band and there’s even a set from Colin Curtis, a northern soul pioneer and a key British DJ of the last 50 years.
EFG London Jazz Festival 2022
Saxophone giant Archie Shepp and pianist Jason Moran perform Let My People Go at The Barbican on 12 November, a virtuoso collaboration that explores the pair’s musical roots and influences such as Ellington, Waller and Monk. On the same night at Kennington’s Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club, harpist Alina Bzhezhinska and group play homage to two female greats, Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby.
Another tribute can be caught at Holborn’s Pizza Express the following evening when trumpeter Linley Hamilton and his quintet imagine what Miles Davis’ and Jimi Hendrix’s planned album might have sounded like, had the guitarist lived.
Trumpeter Eddie Henderson came to prominence in the early 70s with Herbie Hancock’s fusion group Mwandishi and became a respected figure among the greats, especially Miles Davis who was a family friend. Henderson plays acoustic only these days and this hot quartet date features rising star Matyas Gayer on piano.
Catch both shows at Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club on 13 November.
On the same night multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson leads his Modern Jazz & Folk Ensemble through Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter album which turns 50 this year, and singer Alasdair Roberts and Emily Portman are guests. While down on the Southbank, Damon Albarn celebrates the musical life of the late Afro-beat drummer Tony Allen with an impressive roster of guests, including Ben Okri, Nitin Sawhney, Mad Professor and Jimi Tenor. One needs omnipresence on the 13th to also see brilliant young UK vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett on Brick Lane, and British grandee of the experimental, singer Norma Winstone, leading a quartet in homage to piano great Bill Evans at Chelsea’s Pheasantry (and again on the 14th, same venue).
On Sunday 14 November Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club welcomes a rare performance from pianist and band leader Mike Westbrook, a figure revered for his creative daring-do, and on 19 November, Mike performs his towering LP The Westbrook Blake, a homage to poet William, at Sloane’s Square’s Cadogan Hall. Back to the 14th, and the hall welcomes bass and guitar duo Dave Holland and John Scofield for a compelling evening of standards at originals.
Monday 15 November pianist Yohan Kebede presents ‘A Night of Art Blakey’ at Dalston’s Brilliant Corners, while further west Ethiopian keyboard and accordion virtuoso Hailu Mergia performs his funky, noirish compositions at Camden Town’s Jazz Cafe. Always with an eye on improv and genre blurring, US 90s indie group Yola Tengo throw everything from punk, folk and electronic noise into the mix at the Royal Festival Hall on 19 November and on the same evening at The Barbican, saxophonist Soweto Kinch stages White JuJu, a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, black British history and lockdown.
On Saturday 20 November Scotland’s Average White Band take over the Royal Festival Hall with a run through their iconic White Album followed by the dancefloor hits, while there’s altogether more serious business to be done back at The Barbican when saxophonist Charles Lloyd – man who counts Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman and BB King as musical partners – leads septet Nerija through six decades of his music.
Words By Robert Spellman. Cover image of Makaya McCraven.