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November, and all that jazz…

14 November, 2019 — By Michael White

Herbie Hancock. Photo: Abu Dhabi Festival

Most of the year, jazz has a comparatively modest presence across London’s many music stages. Come November, though, and it’s a different story – which gets told again this week, from tomorrow (Friday) through to Sunday November 24, when the EFG London Jazz Festival explodes into just about every venue going. Some you’d expect, some you might not.

Now in its 28th year, the LJF is effectively an umbrella organisation that takes in a broad sweep of styles, creeds and repertoire – with no theme (beyond anniversary celebrations, this time round, for the record labels ECM and Blue Note), not much in the way of rules, but plenty of interesting artists.

It runs for 10 days, with 350 shows across 70 stages. And it starts with a gala evening at the Southbank that gives you Guy Barker and the London Jazz Festival Orchestra alongside voices like that of Corinne Bailey Rae.

Jan Garabek with percussionist Trilok Gurtu

Also at the Southbank are the legendary Jan Garbarek Group this Sunday, with a family day of fun-events and talks for people in the business (or who want to be) the following Saturday, November 23.

Meanwhile, Kings Place is taking outreach to extreme levels with a Jazz for Toddlers on Friday (November 15). For more grown-up tastes, the same venue has Cuban violinist Omar Puente on Friday 22nd. The Barbican hosts pivotal star Herbie Hancock this Sunday (November 16). And innumerable smaller, standard venues – Cafe Oto, Ronnie Scott’s and Camden’s Jazz Cafe among them – are running special programmes. Look out for saxophonist George Rowley at the Oxford Tavern on Monday; Leo Richardson at Hampstead Jazz Club, also on Monday; and a young, 17-piece band called Patchwork Orchestra at Spice of Life on Sunday.

Veronica Swift

Special things to note include a late-nighter at Brasserie Zedel on Monday, 9.15pm, when young performers from the recently-established New Generation Festival in Florence pay tribute to the New Orleans influence on Broadway, led by vocalist Veronica Swift (; and a collaboration with Hampstead Arts Festival, also on Monday, 7.30pm at Leighton House (not exactly in Hampstead but an exotic venue, worth the journey) at which the idiosyncratic jazz pianist Marcin Masecki, over from Poland, improvises on song tunes from the twenties and thirties.

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