The 2020 EFG London Jazz Festival – 13th to 22nd November 2020 – has just been launched in a special online event.
This year’s festival will be “Living in Two Worlds”, blending live music and digital streams in a wide-ranging programme – including 110 live shows confirmed in 10 days and 25 specially created streams so far, taking place in 30 venues.
The festival’s director, Pelin Opcin said: “In this unprecedented year, we’ve managed to transform the challenges into a positive motivation.
“Inspired by the creative response of artists, musicians and the scene in general, we’ve worked together to make the Festival happen and can’t wait to share the buzzing music of the UK, alongside unique performances by international artists with a global audience”.
The festival’s signature opening night, Jazz Voice, brings a variety of singers and surprise guests at Cadogan Hall, directed by Guy Barker and the specially created EFG London Jazz Festival Ensemble, featuring China Moses, David McAlmont, Luca Manning and Cleveland Watkiss, hosted by Jumoké Fashola.
For a special performance, producer/multi-instrumentalist Tenderlonious will lead a showcase of material from his record label, 22a at Shoreditch Town Hall, with collaborations between Ruby Rushton, Nick Walters, his Tubby Hayes tribute The Piccolo, along with a DJ set from Dennis Ayler.
The Church of Sound returns to the festival with Nathaniel Facey, Shirley Tetteh and Moses Boyd, joining up with Tomorrow’s Warriors’ young musicians, led by Gary Crosby, in celebration of Charlie Parker’s Songbook on what would have been his 100th birthday.
At Kings Place there is an extensive programme of music from the heart of the UK jazz scene: Mercury-nominated quartet Dinosaur, celebrating their 10th year together, composer Matt Calvert showcasing his acoustic album “Typewritten”, Jason Yarde and the ACOUTASTiC BOMBASTiC ensemble premiering new explorations.
Plus the “psychedelic Arabic jazz” of composer/trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, the free improvisation of Ill Considered and award-winning saxophonist Binker Golding with material from his latest album “Abstractions of Reality Past & Incredible Feathers”.
The Jazz Café’s new programme includes James Holden with Waclaw Zimpel, saxophonist Camilla George and the Kansas Smitty’s House Band. There will be a special new collaboration between Kit Downes and Korean composer SooJin Suh at PizzaExpress Holborn.
Plus a programme featuring the likes of Henry Lowther’s Still Waters, Xhosa Cole, Norma Winstone with Nikki Iles and Stan Sulzmann and Jeanie Barton with Tony Kofi at Pizza Express Dean Street and The Pheasantry.
British performance artist GAIKA with Azekel & Miink will present PALATIUM at Café OTO – a collaborative audio-visual performance including exploration of the artists’ personal archive of jazz vinyl, contemporary electronic production and experimental film.
For the first time, the festival is creating Jazz Yoga, two special events where live audiences bring their yoga mats to experience award-winning bass player Shri Sriram playing live with yoga teacher Constanza Ruff at Islington Assembly Hall.
Special project at the Barbican include Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED ENSEMBLE, celebrating the music of Pharoah Sanders who turns 80 this year, and a new collaboration with Shabaka Hutchings and Britten Sinfonia.
Other major venues, including Ronnie Scott’s, will be announcing further live programming over the next month, so there will be additional shows to reveal in the run-up to November.
The festival has commissioned a series of exclusive streams with major international artists, including Armenian piano maestro Tigran Hamasyan, performing from a solo set ahead of his new album “The Call Within”, Pat Metheny’s bassist Linda Oh introducing her new band, and an exclusive concert filmed in Paris by Vincent Peirani and Emile Parisien.
There will be a series of films of British artists, including Sarathy Korwar, Rosie Turton and Emma-Jean Thackray at Total Refreshment Centre, and the complete programme of next month’s Between the Lines Festival, with performances of boundary-pushing music, including a night curated by Leafcutter John and showcases from Erased Tapes featuring Anne Müller and Hatis Noit.
And from The Spectacular Empire featuring Loraine James, GLOR1A, and more. With a new partnership, these shows as well as Tenderlonious-led 22a night and Gaika’s Palatium, will be exclusively streamed on Mixcloud.
For 2020, the festival takes its free Creative Engagement programme online. Families have the chance to stream Juliet Kelly’s Jazz Kids, a musical story-telling session for children and their grown-ups.
Developing professionals can upskill in an expert-led masterclass with band-leader Peter Edwards, improvisation with artists Rob Luft and Elina Duni, and mental health and wellbeing with counsellor Denise Devenish.
Anyone can headline this year’s festival by joining Orphy Robinson’s Virtual Jazz Club Band, a project which brings people together while continuing “to keep our distance”.
On Zoom, writer and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre will present livestream sessions, ARTicle 10: Conversations in the era of Black Lives Matter, (referring to Article 10 of the Human Rights Act: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression”).
He will be joined by six special guests for a series of conversations on race, racism and the need for change within the music industry. These discussions will consider the role the music industry plays in equality.
The festival continues its close relationship with Chicago’s ground-breaking label International Anthem, who will be presenting a new sound and movement piece by trumpeter Ben Lamar Gay, as well as a performance by free jazz and spoken word collective Irreversible Entanglements.
There will be a series of free features on new international jazz: Vilnius Jazz featuring Improdimensija Orchestra, New Switzerland, featuring Julie Campiche, Ikarus and Istanbul Psychedelic, featuring special names from Turkish alternative music including Moğollar, Baba ZuLa, Islandman and Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions.
For the first time, the Festival will be presenting a dedicated showcase of artists from Serious’ Take Five talent development programme.
‘Take Five Presents’ will feature online performances throughout the festival from emerging artists from across the UK’s jazz and improvised music scenes. Archipelago, Glasshopper, J Frisco, Jasdeep Singh Degun, Jelly Cleaver, John Pope, Noemi Nuti, Robocobra Quartet, Samuel Eagles, and Skeltr.
After the loss in 2020 of one of the founders of the festival, John Cumming, there will be moments to mark his work, including a stream created by Peter Wiegold from Club Inégales.
Many of the festival’s concerts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, including the opening event Jazz Voice, live from Cadogan Hall, which features the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Clark Rundell.
The station will feature the festival across their programming over the ten days and beyond, with initiatives and programmes such as J to Z, Jazz Fix, Jazz Mixes, and recordings from the Jazz Festival archive such as a 2012 Chick Corea concert and a 1995 Wayne Shorter performance.
On BBC Four in November, Jazz 625 returns to celebrate the UK jazz boom with a line-up featuring Sons of Kemet, Matthew Halsall, Sarathy Korwar, Moses Boyd Exodus, Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia and Kokoroko.
While the documentary, Ronnie’s: Ronnie Scott & his World–Famous Jazz Club, focuses on a legend of the UK jazz scene. BBC Four will also host the final of the BBC Young Jazz Musician competition.
The festival’s main sponsors are EFG Private Bank, who have supported the festival since 2008, and Arts Council England.
- For a comprehensive guide to the festival updated regularly: efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk
John Cumming photo by Dobie