London Jazz Festival – the full programme

We’ve had quite a lot of it already in previous announcements, but here, officially and in their own words, is the full programme for the London Jazz Festival (Fri 9 Nov – Sun 18 Nov 2012). Take a deep breath – there’s a helluva lot of it!

The London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3 is delighted to announce its full programme for 2012. Now entering its 20th year, London’s biggest city-wide music festival brings together established stars and emerging talent, reflecting the traditions of jazz and illustrating its breadth and depth. In a programme made up of premieres, talks, family events, workshops and a fantastic Jazz for Free series, there are over 250 shows in more than 50 venues across London from Harrow to Greenwich and Deptford to North Finchley, many of them free to attend.

Jazz Giants

Sonny Rollins* returns to the UK for the first time since his legendary performance at the 2010 London Jazz Festival;

Herbie Hancock plays his first ever UK solo concert, re-shaping hits like ‘Canteloupe Island’, ‘Maiden Voyage’, ‘Watermelon Man’ and ‘Chameleon’;

John McLaughlin, founder of the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti, plays with The 4th Dimension;

Brad Mehldau and his trio perform from their new Nonesuch album Where Do You Start;

Chick Corea brings an all-star trio, featuring Christian McBride and Brian Blade;

Jack DeJohnette celebrates his 70th birthday;

Jan Garbarek celebrates 40 years since his ECM debut, with master percussionist Trilok Gurtu;

Jim Hall a defining figure in contemporary jazz whose work continues to influence and shape the top jazz guitarists of today.

This year’s Festival explores the essence of jazz and American music from the open spaces of the American landscape to the urban jungle of the cities streets through concerts from Bill Frisell, Lucinda Williams, Kurt Elling,  Marcus Roberts, the David Murray Big Band with Macy Gray, and a birthday tribute to Gil Evans in the 100th year of his birth.

The Festival also looks to artists emerging as key figures in 21st century jazz. Esperanza Spalding* brings her funk-influenced alter ego to the fore. The Robert Glasper Experiment returns with a contemporary take on Nu Soul and hip hop at the Royal Festival Hall, and Ambrose Akinmusire, hailed by The Guardian as ‘comparable with some of the biggest names in African American Jazz’ takes the stage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The Club programme features many more heavy-hitters, among them Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet at Cafe Oto;Roy Nathanson’s Jazz Passengers and Ravi Coltrane at Ronnie Scott’s; Sheila Jordan at the Bull’s Head; Matthew Shipp at The Vortex; Karin Krog & Bengt Hallberg at The Forge; and Hildegard Learns to Fly and Tom Arthurs & Julia Hūlsmann  at PizzaExpress Jazz Club. 

British Jazz Composers

The Festival celebrates the work of a gifted generation of British jazz composers, who emerged when jazz in Europe began to create its own response to the American masters. Alongside heartfelt tributes to Michael GarrickGraham Collier and Joe Harriot, look out for concerts by Mike Westbrook,  John SurmanBarbara Thompsonand the Kenny Wheeler Big Band.

These are matched by special concerts with Shabaka HutchingsSoweto Kinch, Ben Cottrell and his much admired big band Beats and Pieces,  Arun GhoshJack DaviesNeil Cowley and Gwilym Simcock: just some of the many younger British composers featured in the Festival.

British Jazz Across the Festival

As always, the Festival showcases the rich variety across the UK jazz scene from established artists such as Norma Winstone and Larry Stabbins to cutting edge artists World Service Project, Kit Downes Quintet and the exciting new Leeds-based group Roller Trio.

Jazz History

The Festival continues to explore the history of jazz. On just one day (Sunday 11 November) you can start at 10.30am at the Jazz Nursery with Keith Nichols (“the living encyclopaedia of classic jazz”); then head to the Vortex to spend time with the Township Comets as they play South African jazz; journey down to the Southbank to hear Alexander Hawkinsand Corey Mwamba discuss and debate their perspective on the history of jazz in Way In to the Way Out; and then round your day off at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with a Celebration of Gil Evans.

Jazz Voice

The Festival’s legendary opening night is celebrated in style with Jazz Voice*, featuring Brendan Reilly, Claire Martin, Gwyneth Herbert, Junior Giscombe, Natalie Duncan and now joined by consummate soul and jazz singer Patti Austin, all arranged and scored by Guy Barker and accompanied by the 42-piece London Jazz Festival Orchestra.

Feast of Jazz Film

On Sunday 11 November we celebrate the lives of three seminal jazz musicians in acclaimed films all receiving their UK theatre premieres: Barbara Thompson Playing Against Time directed by Michael Dibb; Sonny Rollins Beyond The Notes directed by Dick Fontaine and Michel Petrucciani directed by Michael Radford. Each screening is followed by the opportunity to meet the its director.

Global Connections

The Festival’s overview of ‘jazz’ continues to draw upon new inspirations. As well as Asian influences from Trilok Gurtu,Arun GhoshCircle of Sound and Open Souls (Ranjana Ghatak, Jason Singh and Seb Rochford), Brazil and Portugal bring Egberto GismontiFlavia Coelho and Carminho while Armenia has two stars in Ara Dinkjian and Tigran Hamasyan. All this, and Flamenco guitar legend Paco De Lucia makes a triumphant return to the Royal Festival Hall.

Jazz in the New Europe

This is a brand new programming strand for 2012, which sees stalwarts of the European scene rub shoulders with emerging artists in a specially created programme of commissions, new collaborations and lively public discussions. Performances include an especially assembled group led by French jazz heavyweight Henri Texier. This series sits amidst a wealth of other music reflecting the riches of the European jazz scene, including strands of programming taking in music from Finland and France including Iro Haarla at St James Piccadilly.

New Kids on the Block

The Festival takes the Shoreditch club scene by storm, with performances from Snarky Puppy at XOYO, two nights with saxophonist/keyboardist and agent provocateur Ilhan Ersahin at Charlie Wright’s, and Vuzz – a new series at Village Underground, which includes Speech DebelleDamo Suzuki and Three Trapped Tigers.

Festival on the Move returns again this year, with Spanish multi-vocal artist Hyperpotamus, who is fast developing a name in London for his “formidable display of multi-tracking and microphone fiendishness”.


For a broader experience, the Festival-goer can attend the ever-popular free pre-concert talk series Hear Me Talkin’ To Ya; delve into the history of the music with Way in The Way Out; join our interactive Q&A sessions and workshops with leading musicians and families and children; and explore jazz for the early starters through Jazz for Toddlers with Orphy Robinson.

There are opportunities for people of all ages to engage with Festival activities on a number of levels across the city, including a residency with trioVD and the East London Creative Jazz Orchestra,  which culminates in a performance on the Barbican Freestage; jazz vocal workshops in secondary schools in Bromley; and a Young & Serious curated Freestage event. The Write Stuff –the Festival’s jazz journalism course run in partnership with Jazzwise – celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year.

The reach of the Festival is extended further still by its continued partnership with BBC Radio 3, the Festival’s exclusive broadcaster.  Over 40 hours of broadcast on radio and online means that the Festival reaches far beyond the concert hall. For details of all the BBC Radio 3’s jazz programmes and Festival coverage please visit: http://www.

The Festival would not be possible without all of our valued sponsors and partners including BBC Radio 3; Arts Council England; EFG International; Decca; British Council; Culture Programme of the European Union; St Pancras Renaissance Hotel; Jazzwise; Pernod Ricard; PRS for Music Foundation; Musicians’ Union; Jerwood Charitable Foundation; Yamaha; Embassy of Brazil, Czech Centre; Estonian Embassy; French Music Bureau, Institut Français and SACEM; Music Finland, ESEK, Arts Council Finland and Embassy of Finland; Hungarian Cultural Centre; Music Export Lithuania and Embassy of Lithuania; Royal Netherlands Embassy; Royal Norwegian Embassy; Adam Mickiewicz Institute and Polish Cultural Institute; Romanian Cultural Institute; Pro Helvetia; and Government of Victoria.

*part of the EFG International Excellence Series

For full concert listings please visit the Festival website

Categories: Preview


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