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London Jazz Festival 2009

Published on 06/11/2009

Jazz assumes many forms as the first decade of the century draws to an end. This year’s London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3 offers an all-embracing programme – and if the extraordinary diversity of jazz is one touchstone for the Festival, the city itself provides another.This year the Festival spreads through London as never before,taking the music far and wide and reaching out to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, in venues large and small.

The stylistic and geographical spread of the Festival is well reflected by the extraordinary diversity of vocal music that connects with jazz today. Jazz Voice opens proceedings with a heady night of vocal contrasts at the Barbican and leads into a series of performances that range from the peerless Cleo Laine to the Brazilian warmth of Gilberto Gil and also includes the stunning vocal gymnastics of Naturally 7 and Cleveland Watkiss.

The sheer enjoyment of singing runs through the Festival’s learning and participation programme too, whether through Southbank Centre’s Voicelab project, or beatboxing at North London’s artsdepot. The Festival continues to open windows into jazz; through workshops and family events, live interviews with key Festival artists, a huge programme of free music across the city and by inviting hundreds of young people to attend major Festival concerts.

Headed up by the timeless Sonny Rollins, the great African-American jazz mainstream is represented in depth, complemented by the myriad musical directions taken by musicians across the world – whether from Cuba or Poland, Estonia or Argentina, or from an ever-surprising scene in the UK.

Commissions, collaborations,premieres and residencies form a cornerstone of a Festival that delights in the imagination and creative spirit of today’s jazz. Bill Frisell and Mike Gibbs joining the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a landmark new piece for BBC Radio 3 is one example, but, all through the Festival, there is the sound of the new, the unexpected and the innovative.

The Festival continues to reflect and stimulate a continuing dialogue over the future of jazz – demonstrating that this is an art form in exceptionally good health, whether celebrating its rich traditions, or probing the future through successive new generations. At its heart lies a profound respect for history and a questioning spirit that maintains the music’s cutting edge – and you can find all this and more in the ten action-packed days of the London Jazz Festival.

London Jazz Festival/ Expatica

You can download the London Jazz Festival brochure here. 

Photo by viewfrom52