Entering the Jazz Bubble, London Jazz Festival

There was unquestionably a buzz as I hurried across the footbridge towards the South Bank Centre last night. Whether it was regular London bustle, my own sense of anticipation or the fizz of a crowds gathering for more of the London Jazz Festivals riches I can’t decide. I like to think it was the latter two. John Fordham described the programme as an embarassment of riches as he reviewed Brad Mehldau’s gig earlier in the week, musingly comparing him to other pianists in the programme (Herbie, Matthew Shipp, Tigran and he could pop into Chick Corea on Saturday for another reference point). Riches are not in doubt. My first evening was focussed around seeing Esperanza Spalding (of which more in a separate blog), we managed to drop into the freestage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall for half an hour of Sam Leak’s Aquarium. I was impressed when I saw them in Bristol a while back and the fluent singing melodies were there on some new material they were playing, a tantalising aperitif. After the big gig, I decided to check out the Late Late Show at Ronnie Scotts. There was a house band playing the first set with the expectation of musicians joining for a jam later. It will definitely be a late one – musicians were gathering as the night wore on. I didn’t survive the first set to see how it developed however (I left when the band started playing House of the Rising Sun). There’s plenty of weekend to go and some sleep seemed in order.  A reviving blast of caffeine in the Foyle’s Cafe is fuelling this reflection, the delicious afterglow of Espernza Spalding and maybe just a short visit to Ray’s Jazz upstairs to see what they’ve got.

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