First names for 2012 London Jazz Festival

The dates are Friday 9 November to Sunday 18 November, and the line-up is going to be so attractive it might break not only our credit cards but our pension funds as well.

So what better way to spread the cost than by starting early. And the exciting news is that the following all go on sale on Tuesday (and do read to the bottom because there lies a special treat):

Friday 9 November, 7.30pm
Jazz Voice: Celebrating a Century of Song
£35, £25, £20, £15, £10 + bkg
The Festival’s signature opening-night gala returns once again with its epoch-spanning celebration of singing and song. The list of past guests stretches from Georgie Fame, Natalie Merchant, Kurt Elling and Sheila Jordan, Gregory Porter, Paloma Faith and Shingai Shoniwa. Arranged, scored and conducted by Guy Barker, this year’s extravaganza will see a brand new clutch of singers and a 40-piece orchestra mark the major anniversaries, birthdays and milestones that link the decades stretching back from 2012.

“It would be difficult to imagine a more impressive curtain-raiser to the London Jazz Festival than Jazz Voice, and this year’s vintage was the finest yet. One sensed from the very opening bars that something remarkable was about to unfold, and so it proved.” The Arts Desk

Friday 9 November, 7.30pm
Salif Keita
Southbank Centre / Royal Festival Hall
£30, £25, £20, £15, £10 + bkg
The “golden voice of Africa”, Salif Keita has been at the forefront of modern Malian music for many years. Keita has extended musical frontiers and carved out a distinctive musical voice, in which rock, funk and jazz combine with the deepest West African griot traditions. This year’s Festival sees him return to London with a new album produced by The Gotan Project.

“The best thing about him was his voice. A grainy and searing tenor, its power continues to drop jaws, cause goosebumps.” Evening Standard

Friday 9 November, 7.30pm
Tigran Hamasyan
Wigmore Hall
£30, £25, £20, £15 + bkg
Pianist Tigran Hamasyan has been raising eyebrows and dropping jaws worldwide since winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2006. His unusual marriage of jazz and Armenian folk has picked up high-profile fans including Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau and Herbie Hancock; his most recent album, A Fable, topped the jazz charts in France. “There are many brilliant and perfectly finished young jazz pianists around,” declared The Telegraph earlier this year in a four-star review, “but Hamasyan stands out because he has something important and urgent to say.”

Saturday 10 November, 7.30pm
Melody Gardot
£27.50, £25, £10 + bkg
Melody Gardot has mastered the art of capturing mood and emotion. Her hauntingly smooth voice, drenched in the mellow blues, shows an expressive candor reminiscent of greats like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone. Building on the success of her two best-selling albums Worrisome Heart and My One And Only Thrill, Gardot performs from her new album The Absence at this year’s Festival, weaving a seductive sound of her own.

“A triumphant performance by a singer-songwriter who is becoming one of the major talents of our time. Her singing had a sotto voice quality that was simply mesmerising.” The Times

Sunday 11 November, 7.30pm
John McLaughlin
£35, £25, £20, £10 + bkg
John McLaughlin remains at the forefront of electric jazz. Not only playing on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew but also forming his pioneering Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the groundbreaking Shakti, it is without hyperbole that The Guardian calls McLaughlin “one of the few Europeans to divert the course of jazz history”. The rock influences remain – this is a man who played with Jack Bruce and even jammed with Hendrix – but so too do traces of everything from blues to flamenco. The 4th Dimension, featuring multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband, Cameroonian bassist Etienne M’Bappe, and Indian drummer Ranjit Barot, sold out Ronnie Scott’s weeks in advance last summer and now return to a London concert hall for the first time in two years.

Monday 12 November, 7.30pm
Bill Frisell
The Great Flood
Southbank Centre / Queen Elizabeth Hall
£27.50, £25, £10 + bkg
One of the most original guitarists on the planet today, Bill Frisell has worked with everyone from John Zorn to Elvis Costello, and yields a consistently personal and illuminating musical vision. He comes to LJF with an evening-long suite of original music, and accompanying film and staging by Bill Morrison, based on the Mississippi River Flood of 1927 and the ensuing transformation of American society and music. Frisell’s wide-ranging musical palette will use elements of the vocabulary in American roots music but, as always, it will be refracted through his own inimitable lens.

“It’s hard to find a more fruitful meditation on American music than in the compositions of guitarist Bill Frisell.” The New York Times.

Tuesday 13 November, 7.30pm
Jan Garbarek Group
With Trilok Gurtu
Southbank Centre / Royal Festival Hall
£35, £25, £20, £10 + bkg
40 years after his ECM debut, Norway’s Jan Garbarek remains one of the most recognisable voices in jazz. He has been fundamental in creating a distinctly European perspective on the music, as well as in establishing the so-called ‘Nordic tone’. Yet the saxophonist negotiates his expansive, ethereal soundscapes with rare humanity, his sound like warm breath floating in frosty air. Garbarek’s new band, featuring the master Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu, is a fusion act in the true sense – and a clear highlight of this year’s festival.

“Neither classical nor jazz, neither new nor old, this music simply exists, for everyone’s wonder and nourishment” The Times.

Wednesday 14 November, 7.30pm
Brad Mehldau Trio
£30, £20, £15, £10 + bkg
“Brad Mehldau is the doyen of contemporary jazz pianists”, says The Guardian, “an improviser whose instinctive, emotional command of the instrument is complemented by a formidable intellect.” Performing internationally since the mid-1990s, Mehldau is renowned for his distinctive combination of jazz standards and originals with compositions by Nirvana, Radiohead and Nick Drake. He’s worked with everyone from Willie Nelson to Charlie Haden, and is a renowned solo performer, but is perhaps at his finest when leading his trio, featuring Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier. They return to the Festival performing from their latest Nonesuch album Ode.

Friday 16 November, 7.30pm
Sonny Rollins
£75, £60, £40, £10 + bkg
He’d worked with Miles Davis and Bud Powell before he turned 20. And, with Coleman Hawkins as his idol and Thelonious Monk as his mentor, Theodore Walter Rollins went on to establish himself as one of the finest tenor saxophone players of all time. A near-legendary performance at the 2010 London Jazz Festival proved that he still plays with the imagination and vitality that helped turn jazz on its head in the 1950s and 1960s.

“The most revered and honoured jazz musician on the planet.” The Telegraph

Barbican 020 7638 8891 /

Southbank Centre 0844 875 0073 /

Wigmore Hall 020 7935 2141 /

More acts will be announced in April, and through the summer. There will also be an extensive club programme, a broad learning and participation programme and numerous free events.

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