If it’s November, it must be time for the London Jazz Festival. This year it’s bigger than ever and shared between far more venues – including the Barbican Centre and the Royal Festival Hall. Herbie Hancock is playing both venues – and they’re already sold out!The jazz tradition lies at the heart of the Festival and major figures who are linked through the music of Miles Davis – Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and John McLaughlin – headline with inspired new bands. A number of artists introduce projects that provide a fresh perspective on the music, and include leading British saxophonist Courtney Pine, young British band Empirical, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, guitar maestros Martin Taylor and Biréli Lagrène, plus award-winning saxophonist Alan Barnes. The strong relationship between the spirit of jazz and the art of voice is highlighted by Jazz Voice, the celebratory opening concert at the Barbican that pays homage to a century of song with vocal stars and emerging talent re-interpreting classic songs, accompanied by a specially created London Jazz Festival Orchestra directed by Guy Barker. Others taking their own innovative approach to the vocal tradition include Melody Gardot, a cappella sensations Take 6 and Queen of South African jazz Sibongile Khumalo with drumming legend Jack DeJohnette.
The love affair between jazz and Latin music can be traced through three outstanding pianists – Chucho Valdés, Danilo Pérez and Gonzalo Rubalcaba – as well as Milton Nascimento’s bossa nova project and Alex Wilson’s Salsa con Soul Orchestra.
The global flavour of jazz is marked by performances from a number of major artists including Cameroonian singer-songwriter Richard Bona, Sami artist Mari Boine, afrobeat exponent Femi Kuti, new flamenco phenomenon Buika and Turkish master instrumentalists Taksim Trio.
European jazz is brought into sharp focus by a festival within the Festival that celebrates Norway’s extraordinary cultural scene – Scene Norway brings over some of the nation’s leading musicians including Nils Petter Molvær, Sidsel Endresen, Arve Henriksen and Eivind Aarset.
Check out the Festival website for more details.
There are some free downloads available via classicsandjazz.co.uk. Click on the link for more information and to download tracks from the UCJ website. There’s some Herbie Hancock, Nils Petter Molvær, Taylor Eigsti, Jeff Neve and David Sanchez – all worth listening to if you like the music on Cosmic Jazz.