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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John Butcher/Mark Saunders: Tarab Cuts

  • Critics choice

Consistently challenging and re-imagining the limits of the saxophone, John Butcher performs at the opening night of London Jazz Festival with drummer and long-time collaborator Mark Sanders. The duo will be performing reworked versions of early twentieth century classical Arab and Sufi music from Butcher's vinyl collection, alongside their own compositions.

  1. Purcell Room 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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Dedication Orchestra

  • Critics choice

Formed as a kind of musical tribute to the sound of legendary South African jazz sextet The Blue Notes, The Dedication Orchestra ensemble features Louis Moholo-Moholo, the original drummer with the Notes, amongst an array of fellow top musical minds, who instil the Dedication Orchestra's wide-ranging jazz styles with a rich, rootsy quality.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Nov 15
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Dee Dee Bridgewater

  • Critics choice

Perhaps the last of the great jazz divas, Dee Dee Bridgewater's scat style is comparable to Ella Fitzgerald's, while her ballads are akin to Sarah Vaughan's. She's also worked with the likes of Sonny Rollins, Roland Kirk, Max Roach among countless other greats. A peerless artist in her own right, her performance at London Jazz Festival will be unmissable.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Nov 15
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Hot Sardines

  • Critics choice

Gypsy jazz may be all the rage at the moment, but Hot Sardines do it better than most. With roots in both New York and Paris, the ensemble are known for their fast-paced, fiery performances, with sultry singer Elizabeth Bougerol and the occasional addition of a tap dancer adding further sparkle. Their appearance at London Jazz Festival should be another lively show.

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sat Nov 15
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Dr John – A Tribute to Louis Armstrong

  • Critics choice

Fonky, voodoo gris-gris gumbo from New Orleans' totemic figure, who burst back into his late-'60s mode with 2012 album 'Locked Down'. DJ has a new album due for a summer release, followed by this show at London Jazz Festival, in which he pays tribute to another New Orleans great, Louis Armstrong.

  1. Barbican Centre Silk St, EC2Y 8DS
  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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Marilyn Mazur

  • Critics choice

Percussionist and composer Marilyn Mazur embarks on two performances at LJF 2014: a solo, family-friendly matinee, designed for younger audiences; and an evening performance with her Spirit Cave ensemble. At both shows, Mazur will utilise a vast array of drums, gongs, bells and more to create fascinating, semi-improvised soundscapes. Spirit Cave also features the talents of several Nordic jazz greats such as trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær.

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Sun Nov 16 - Mon Nov 17
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Vinicio Capossela

  • Critics choice

In a previous London show, this wildly charismatic singer played from within a stage-set of giant, moving whale ribs for a Herman Melville-inspired concept work about seafaring. This time around, the man nicknamed 'the Italian Tom Waits' heads to London Jazz Festival. What powerful performance will he have in store for us this time around? Who knows, but it's bound to be worth investigating.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  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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Ibrahim Maalouf

  • Critics choice

Vibrant French/Lebanese worldbeat trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf blends jazz and classical Arabic music, resulting in a heady, beguiling mix that's sure to enchant the audience at LJF.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Wed Nov 19
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John McLaughlin And The 4th Dimension

  • Critics choice

The ex-Miles Davis/Shakti guitar guru here makes an appearance with the lastest incarnation of his fiery fusion quartet, now featuring superlative Cameroonian bassist Etienne Mbappe alongside UK keyboardist Gary Husband and amazing Indo-jazz drummer Ranjit Barot. Drawing on the spiritual power of John Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme', McLaughlin and co explore gritty blues-edged jazz-rock via stomping riffs and blistering, edge-of-your-seat improv, and will likely be performing tracks from new album 'The Boston Record' at their London Jazz Festival show.

  1. Royal Festival Hall Belvedere Rd, South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Thu Nov 20
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Jane Monheit

  • Critics choice

Grammy-nominated vocalist Jane Monheit is just as likely to perform numbers by the likes of Lennon and McCartney or Randy Newman – adding in her own unique twist on classic tracks – as she is to whip out much-loved jazz standards or her own innovative songs. Whatever she's singing, it's always executed perfectly and performed with plenty of zing, and her performance at London Jazz Festival – in which she celebrates Judy Garland's take on jazz – shouldn't be any different.

  1. Cadogan Hall Sloane Terrace, SW1X 9DQ
  2. Wed Nov 19
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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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Dave Holland/Kenny Barron

  • Critics choice

Spotted by Dizzy Gillespie as a teenager, fantastically graceful piano great Barron eventually found fame in the '90s, when he was the last great partner of Stan Getz. Barron has also played with the likes of Yusef Lateef and Freddie Hubbard, and tonight performs tonight with Dave Holland, a man with supreme bass credentials whose open mind has led him into many a collaboration with Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Anthony Braxton and Steve Coleman.

  1. Queen Elizabeth Hall South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Fri Nov 21
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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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