Music festivals are typically reserved for the summer-time, when stages crop up in parks and throngs of people camp out to see all their favourite artists in one place. Such events usually celebrate and thrive off of proximity – all of these musicians to see and things to do, all in one place. The EFG London Jazz Festival, however, celebrates jazz by spreading it all through the city for everyone to enjoy.
A 10-day festival, from November 11-20, the EFG London Jazz Festival sees jazz absolutely take over the city of London. We’re talking over 300 shows, at more than 60 venues, with in excess of 2000 performers. Global legends of the scene and young emerging talent will stand shoulder-to-shoulder on stage and in the audiences, with performers from around the world in attendance. A number of now-established names can in fact point to the EFG London Jazz Festival as being one of their first ever live performances. It’s a celebration of the best the jazz world has to offer, regardless of how well known or prolific they may be as of yet!
The festival strands
The EFG London Jazz Festival isn’t just a slapdash collection of a bunch of gigs, as through lines connect the many varied performances. The festival programming, for example, is largely driven by the understanding that jazz “at its very roots, is a music created, developed and shaped by Black culture.” The first weekend particularly celebrates the music of West Africa, as part of the festival’s Global Roots strand of performance. These performances will also celebrate the history and legacy of jazz around the world. The following weekend subsequently celebrates Afrocubanismo with a whole host of events and shows. That weekend’s Última Fiesta event will unite so many musicians and activities in one place that it’s almost like a one-day festival within the festival.
The performances are also categorized and connected through the strands of Icons, Homegrown, Beyond Margins, Voices, New Creations, and Jazz Visionaries. These strands encompass local UK talent (Homegrown), those who are pushing the boundaries of what jazz is and can be (Beyond Margins), and exciting new collaborations that result in something completely new (New Creations). The spirit of collaboration that the festival inspires results in collaborations between wholly different artists, whose synergy then creates something new and exciting. It’s the magic of jazz.
There is also considerable attention being paid to making sure that some of London’s iconic jazz venues are highlighted. Their ‘Celebrating the Jazz Clubs‘ performances will take place in some of the venues that have fuelled London’s jazz scene. Expect incredible performances in locations ranging from the Royal Albert Hall, to the Vortex Jazz Club, Pizza Express (yes, that Pizza Express), Café OTO, and more.
Don’t-miss performances at the EFG London Jazz Festival
CHICAGOxLONDON (November 12) – jazz musicians from Chicago collide with some of London’s best in the fifth year of bringing together the musical and spiritual connections of Chicago and London’s jazz scenes.
African ManiFest: Sounds of West Africa (November 12) – A day-long celebration of Western African music, encompassing live music, DJing, and workshops.
David Preston at “mu” (November 14) – The London-based guitarist and composer will lead a quartet, featuring Kit Downes, Sebastian Rochford, and Kevin Glasgow, playing material from his upcoming debut album.
MAMA’s Sunday Sessions (November 13 & 20) – DJ sets, live jazz (I mean, obviously), and great vibes are promised throughout the evening across the two Sunday sessions at Mama Shelter London.
Printworks Takeover: The Hydra x EFG London Jazz Festival (November 19) – essentially the 30th birthday party for the festival, a stacked roster of DJs play all the music that has inspired them over the years, with “a little bit of everything, all in one place.”
Última Fiesta: A Celebration of Afro-Cuban Music (November 20) – The Southbank Centre celebrates Afro-Cuban music with DJs, live performances, and even a free salsa-dancing workshop.
A majority of the performances are ticketed, but roughly 30% of performances will be provided free of charge, so anyone can enjoy them.
Beyond the gigs
The EFG London Jazz Festival is about much more than just performance, with a variety of workshops, film screenings, and interactive experiences also available. Parents can take their tots to the Tots Tunes: Early Years Workshop for quality ‘non-baby’ acoustic music where they and their children can sing, shake, and stomp along. Or you can learn all about scatting and vocal dynamics at the Ashley Pezzotti Workshop. Dancers will definitely want to check out the African ManiFest: Dance Workshop, where dance star French Nana will teach traditional African dance.
It’s all rather insane, but presents an incredible delight for jazz lovers and fans of live music. And with 2022 marking the festival’s 30th birthday, having hit London venues for the first time back in 1992, it doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down any time soon. The aim of the festival, even as it has grown incredibly since its launch, remains the same:
“celebrating the place of jazz in a city which is at ease with its rich cultural diversity, and drawing in a multitude of venues across London who present the music, week in, week out, throughout the year.”
Its all jazz baby. And that sounds great to us.
The EFG London Jazz Festival will run from November 11-20, 2022. Head to the website to find out more, or to get a look at the full festival line-up and secure your tickets.