2015 EFG London Jazz Festival Reviews

Four reviews from this year’s London Jazz Festival

Cassandra Wilson (Mark Seliger)

Cassandra Wilson/Lionel Loueke, Royal Festival Hall        

The Grammy-winning singer’s angsty, delayed performance sparks a public row

“I’m sorry I’m late,” said Cassandra Wilson to a half empty Royal Festival Hall, after a sulky rendition of “Don’t Explain”, the opening track from her Billie Holiday tribute album, Coming Forth By Day. It was an hour and fifteen minutes since the singer was due on stage and half an hour since the directors of concert promoter Serious had arrived in her stead – amidst boos and irate whistles – to tell us she was refusing to leave her hotel room. A good chunk of the 2,500-strong audience had gone for their trains, demanding refunds on the way out and venting their frustration on Twitter, and those who were still there wanted answers. Read the rest here


Maria Schneider Orchestra Peerless At Cadogan Hall

No one in the jazz world writes music like Maria Schneider. It’s mercurial and richly evocative – full of stories, images and emotions that range from tenderness and nostalgic longing for the prairies of Minnesota, where she grew up, to frantic, barely-restrained aggression. Sometimes it sounds like Messiaen, at others like the work of Schneider’s great mentors, Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer, but more often than not the composer is in a musical world of her own. Read the rest here


Terence Blanchard’s E-Collective (Tim Dickeson)

Terence Blanchard’s E-collective And Jacob Collier Electrify The Barbican

There’s a rich tradition of mentoring in jazz. New Orleans trumpeter Terence Blanchard benefitted from it when he joined the great Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and now he’s passing on his knowledge. Read the rest here


The Langston Hughes Project (Roger Thomas)

Ice-T And The Ron McCurdy Quartet Preach The Gospel Of Langston Hughes At The Barbican

Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods For Jazz, an epic poem about the struggle for artistic and social freedom experienced by Africans and black Americans during the early 1960s, was never performed in Langston Hughes’ lifetime. By 1967, the writer, social activist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance had written the poetry and some equally poetic musical cues (“drum, alone, softly… but gradually building to uptempo as the metronome of fate begins to tick faster and faster”) and was in talks with the great bassist and composer Charles Mingus about a score. But Hughes died before the project could be realised. Read the rest here

— Thomas Rees

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