Southbank Saturday at the London Jazz Festival – hang out & join in! November 16th

Cutting through the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall on my way to see if I could get a ticket for Arild Anderson later in the evening, my attention was completely grabbed by the band performing on the free Clore Ball Room stage. A familiar phrase, the improvised rumblings that introduce the legendary recording of So What on Miles Davies’ Kind of Blue had been turned into the  angular theme of a tightly swinging piece by singer /pianist Benet Mclean’s band. Well known on the London scene apparently, if this performance was anything to go by they’d be welcome anywhere. I tried to escape, but later, returning from the successful capture of a ticket, a quietly insistent pulse and the eerie wow of a vibraphone seeped off the stage with the billowing dry ice and stopped me in my tracks again. The band Empirical this time, playing material from their new album Tabula Rasa.  The range, quality and quantity of music just on the South Bank yesterday was overwhelming, not to mention plenty of other jazz distractions spread across London; The Loop Collective had taken over Kings Place and the Norwegians the Barbican freestage for instance. And then the other stuff.  A talk/ demo on the history of jazz in the Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, I’d spent the day in the Write Stuff workshop with a group of other apprentice writers and more, and more.  One approach to the festival then, involving very little expenditure other than the effort of open ears and mind, is to hang out and join in! Now for a Barbican bubble on Sunday.


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