London Jazz Festival

The 22nd London Jazz Festival takes over the city this November, with a full line-up of big names and rising stars



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Photo: Antonis Vradis

The EFG London Jazz Festival has come a long way from where it began in 1992. Now in its twenty-second year, it’s evolved from the long-standing Camden Jazz Week into an internationally renowned celebration of all things musically deep and delightful, with legends such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Ornette Coleman headlining recent festivals.

The line-up for this year's festival (Fri Nov 14 – Sun Nov 23) is already shaping up to make it one of the best yet – and the availability of £10 tickets for the biggest shows, and a huge range of free events throughout the festival, mean it'll be accessible to everyone from seasoned jazz heads to newcomers. So without further ado, here's our guide to LJF 2014.

Must-see gigs at EFG London Jazz Festival

Branford Marsalis Quartet

  • Critics choice

Branford Marsalis may be something of a celebrity in the US, but undiluted jazz is the saxophonist's main message, and his band maintains a reputation as one of the tightest, most explosive units on the current jazz scene. This rare UK date is a rare chance for Londoners to catch up with Marsalis's recent work, which extends the minimal motifs of late-period Coltrane with a very twenty-first century spin. When his quartet hits the high gears, their energy and interaction are practically unbeatable.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Fri Nov 14
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Abdullah Ibrahim

  • Critics choice

Once known as Dollar Brand, legendary South African pianist and composer Ibrahim occupies a central position in his country's music history as an exile from apartheid and politicised pioneer of township and Cape jazz. Now 80 years old and more spiritual than ever, he leads two groups in London tonight: his long-standing brass-led septet Ekaya, perfectly combining foot-stomping gospel passion with Ibrahim's sensitive melodic themes, and a new trio with reeds player Cleave Guyton and Noah Jackson on cello.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Nov 15
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Bill Frisell – Guitar in the Space Age

  • Critics choice

One of the most distinctive and instantly recognisable guitar players of the jazz guitar aristocracy, Frisell has long since sidestepped his jazz credentials to create his own quirky, bittersweet brand of Americana. It's this rich mix of country, folk and jazz that he uses here to explore his own inspirations: the guitarists of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s who made the Fender Telecaster the soundtrack to the space race. Frisell's band includes Greig Lisz on mandolin and pedal steels, Tony Scherr on bass and drummer Kenny Wollesden. In support, Vermont-born alt folk singer and fiddler Sam Amidon updates the sounds of the old West and writes his own spare, melancholy and otherworldly songs.

  1. Barbican Hall Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8BS
  2. Sun Nov 16
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Snarky Puppy

  • Critics choice

Texas-based jazz collective Snarky Puppy are led by composer and bassist Michael League, and consist of just under 30 musicians (not all of whom play at the same time). They offer up a fusion of funk, soul and sensitive harmonies, focussing tonight on their latest album 'Ground Up'.

  1. Roundhouse Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 8EH
  2. Tue Nov 18
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Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet

  • Critics choice

Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko originally came to prominence in a quintet with the late pianist Krzysztof Komeda, which brought a pointed, Don Cherry-like expressionism to European jazz. At the head of his New York Quartet – with pianist David Virelles, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver – he's one of the highlights of this year's London Jazz Festival.

  1. Barbican Hall Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8BS
  2. Thu Nov 20
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See all London Jazz Festival events

For more details on the history of the festival visit the EFG London Jazz Festival website.

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