International and UK-based acts alike will be converging on London this November for the London Jazz Festival 2015, with this year’s lineup one of the biggest and flecked with some of the biggest names in jazz. The London Jazz Fest aims to cater to all tastes, so whether you’re one to hop up and boogie, or sit at a stool sipping whiskey, this UK offering is sure to leave you wanting more. With over 2,000 acts scheduled over ten days, even the most die-hard fans won’t be able to squeeze everything onto their itinerary, so we’ve picked out our top 5 must-sees.
1. Seckou Keita
Tuesday 17th November, Rich Mix, £15
Sengalese-born Seckou Keita is a master of the kora - a stringed instrument that resembles a hybrid between a guitar and harp - and an award-winning musician and composer. The kora does not have a wide international base of players, and it is worth getting along to Keita’s show merely to witness a master of the instrument at work. The wandering notes soothe and transport listeners from the here and now to a fantastical realm, and are equally at home on the stage as they would be on the soundtrack to the climactic scene of an indie film. Keita’s performance at the London Jazz Festival comes at the start of a UK tour throughout November and early December, so if you miss Keita be sure to make up for it as he tours around the nation.
2. The Streets
Everyday, £0 ~ free
Taking professional jazz artists out of the club and into the public is the aim of two-year long project The Streets, which has been connecting unwitting passersby with jazz musicians since July 2015. The Streets goes beyond the central city centre and notorious hip-districts like Shoreditch, taking jazz to seven of London’s outer boroughs. Our pick for the week is Smitty’s Big Parade, to be held at the Kingston Railway Station on Friday the 20th November. The bold, swinging jazz numbers are sure to bring the streets to live on a chilly autumn afternoon.
Find out more about The Streets, or head along to Smitty’s Big Parade
3. Urchin & Toy Rokit
Wednesday 18th November, PizzaExpress Jazz Club £0 ~ free
The brainchild of composer Leo Appleyard, Urchin is a dynamic new force on the urban jazz scene, featuring a vocal-heavy style and influences from modern and traditional musicians. Agne Motie’s breathy vocals recall a jazz era long gone by, where heartbreak could be vocalised in a single song. This 8-piece features a three-saxophone horn section, channelling jazz’s brass origins. Urchin will be supported on the night by improvisational electronic trio Toy Rokit, Pizza Express will be the site of an old-world/new-world jazz collision.
More details on the festival website
4. Within the Waves
Thursday 19th November, Cecil Sharp House, £12
This percussive and vocal work from Brazilian-born, UK-based Adriano Adewale is inspired by the ocean-bound traditions of both his native and adopted homes. Within the Waves is a collaborative production that features two choirs alongside featured vocalists, it’s sure to be a large-scale project that will dominate the space and create memorable experiences for those lucky enough to nab tickets.
Saturday 21st November, Southbank Centre, £0 ~ free
Described as ‘London’s answer to Snarky Puppy’ (the New York-based jazz fusion band led by Grammy-award winner Michael League)‘, Fat-Suit have been set a high bar to meet. This jazz-rock-folk fusion group is made up of 14 instrumentalists who were united at Scotland’s Royal Conservatoire, and cut their teeth in Glasgow’s jazz scene. The tunes are bold and brassy, infused with the snark of electric guitars it’s an immersive experience you’d be sad to miss.