London Jazz Festival: 250 gigs or more in 10 days, all over the city from the big halls with bank busting ticket prices to little cellar bars and free stages. This year the lure of the feast at the other end of the M4 is just too strong and instead of a quick dash for the odd carefully chosen gig, I’ve managed to arrange a couple of days at the end of next week. Now the challenge of choosing! London Jazz as usual as been helpfully pre-viewing for a while and the Guardian’s jazz crew has a recommended path (you can almost smell their excitement!). So what’s on my menu? Months ago, I booked my tickets for Chick Corea’s trio on Saturday 17th. He arrives with Christian McBride and Brian Blade, as if he wasn’t draw enough. I’ve no idea what to expect given the breadth of his repertoire. A better informed acquaintance than I pointed out this is the Five Peace Band without the frontline – John McLaughlin who was in that band is in the festival, maybe he’ll pop in! On Thursday 15th I have tickets to Esperanza Spalding so my visit is going to get off to a roaring start. With the big (price) ticket gigs sorted, that leaves Friday and and the rest of Saturday.
My ingredients and principles are now low cost, high quality, something fun, something interesting, something unpredictable/ unfamiliar and a bit of down time and ‘hanging out’. London Jazz’s previews offer a few pointers to some of the less obvious gigs. One that’s proved irresistible to me is Friday night at The Con Cellar Bar. Julian Arguelles with Kit Downes’ trio looks like an inspired match. Arguelles’ first release Phaedrus has never been far from CD player since I bought it (can it really be nearly 20 years ago?) and for my money he’s become on to be one of UK jazz’s (Europe… ?) most distinctive, creative writers and imroviser and never fails to move me. Kit Downes projects and tastes seem catholic, always uncompromisingly creative; those trio albums show the rich melodic and harmonic territory where the meeting of minds might be in the Con Bar. Can’t wait. There’s still plenty of scope for improvising my schedule; I’m quietly hoping I get a few suggestions as well. I’ll be starting the proceedings early tonight in Bristol. The Aruan Ortiz/ Michale Janish Quintet, in the festival and previewed by London Jazz are at St. Georges Bristol tonight, I’ll be there.