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Who are some of the big-name stars playing? Sadly, some of the bigger stuff sold out a while ago, but there are still plenty of jazz legends to check out, like an intimate late set with saxophonist Branford Marsalis that’s bound to be incredible. Other must-see stars include charismatic South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (pictured), jazz diva Dee Dee Bridgewater, bass genius Marcus Miller and guitarist John McLaughlin. Image © David Sinclair
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What about any rising stars I should catch? If you fancy catching some future jazz gods on the rise, then we recommend next Saturday’s improv performance by saxophonist Phil Meadows and his 20-piece Engines Orchestra (pictured), featuring some of the UK’s most exciting young jazz musicians: Laura Jurd, Elliot Galvin and Alice Zawadzki. Other top new acts to check out include the Matt Roberts Biggish Band, pianist Peter Edwards and saxophonist Tommy Andrews.
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What can I do for free? Plenty. Around 30 percent of the programme is free so there’s loads for anyone on a budget. Two free performances this weekend by clarinettist Arun Ghosh and pianist Zoe Rahman (pictured) are real highlights, as are next week’s shows by newly formed septet Nérija, saxophonist Nathaniel Facey and Danish outfit Girls In Airports. The iconic jazz label Blue Note celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary this year, and you can hear Blue Note president Don Was in conversation with Nigel Havers for free next Saturday at the Southbank – a must for all jazz history aficionados.
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How about jazz with a more clubby feel? Head down to XOYO and check out Kris Bowers, who follows in Robert Glasper’s funky footsteps and blends jazz piano with hip hop and electronica. Alternatively, get yourself to The Forum to see dubby, groove-laden large ensemble Submotion Orchestra (pictured) with Ruby Wood’s sublime vocals leading the charge. Image © Dan Medhurst
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I LOVE jazz with singing on it As ever, the EFG London Jazz Festival kicks off with Jazz Voice: a celebration of the jazz vocals. This year’s concert features guest spots from Kurt Elling, Georgie Fame, Sachal and the wonderful Vula Malinga. Catch some more jazz vocals later in the festival from Dee Dee Bridgewater’s talented daughter China Moses, or check out Zara McFarlane (pictured), Chloe Charles or Brendan Reilly. Image © Guk Hyun Xon
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I HATE jazz with singing on it No problem. The festival has loads of great instrumental gigs, including great saxophonists John Surman, Trish Clowes – who perform with the BBC Concert Orchestra – and improv wizard Evan Parker. Also unmissable: American jazz trio The Bad Plus (pictured), wonderful violinist Regina Carter and a double bill featuring Melt Yourself Down’s Pete Wareham and talented pianist Kit Downes and his trio. Image © Jay Fram
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I fancy gorging on some international sounds. What’s on offer? As is becoming tradition with the festival, international artists feature heavily on the bill. Danish percussionist Marilyn Mazur and Indian-born master of the sarod Soumik Datta (pictured) are both good shouts, while Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko brings his New York Quartet with support from Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda.
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I want to hear jazz that will blow my mind! Then you need to set up camp at Cafe Oto and have a free jazz improv love-in with the insanely brilliant bands that perform there. While you’re there, check out the likes of Peter Brötzmann (pictured), Jason Adasiewicz and Steve Noble Trio this weekend, Black Top (comprising Pat Thomas and Orphy Robinson) next week and, on the final Sunday, Deep Whole Trio with saxophonist Paul Dunmall, bassist Paul Rogers and saxophonist Colin Webster.
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I just want to join in – what can you suggest? Okay, then you need to catch one of the three festival gigs by the House Gospel Choir (pictured). Founded by Natalie Maddix, the choir is part of the Industry in the Streets creative youth agency, and goes for those moments of dancefloor euphoria brought about by an epic house tune – but with an extra gospel punch. The choir’s leaders have unbelievable chops, and they encourage their ‘houseguests’ to get involved too. Otherwise, head to any of the festival’s many workshops such as the Serious Sing classes at the Barbican which offer a 90 minute vocal session for £5.

The best of EFG London Jazz Festival 2014

There really is a gig for everyone at LJF, and we’re here to help you find yours

By Roseanne Hanley
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With 68 venues, more than 300 performers and 100,000 gig goers, the EFG London Jazz Festival has grown into one of London’s biggest annual cultural events. This year’s festival runs from Fri Nov 14 – Sun Nov 23, and it’s looking like a cracker. But with so many events on offer, all that jazz can get a bit confusing even for seasoned festivalgoers. So we’ve put together a handy gig finder to help you achieve jazz nirvana this November.

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