The talk I’ve been hearing is that, yes, there have been amazing gigs, but also clashes, things people wanted to hear but couldn’t. And then there’s the question of whether the festival needs a “heart.”
Go on then, what do you think?
UPDATE: Here’s Peter Slavid’s account of what HIS festival has been like:
I have been reading the reviews of festival gigs here and elsewhere with great interest – but since none of the events I attended seem to have been covered I thought it was time to give my account.
First of all some general comments. Like most of you I have to pay for my tickets, so attending a dozen or more £20 gigs simply isn’t on. Let alone the big set piece gigs at £35 and upward. So I spend a lot of time at free gigs and I pick what tickets I’m willing to pay for. (which would be a lot easier if the printed programme included the prices!)
Like any good festival, there’s too much to choose from, and I made some brilliant decisions and some really awful ones – but I got to see some fantastic music in what I think has been the most interesting programme for years if you like your music cutting edge.
-My first gig was the Jazz on 3 free gig at Ronnie Scott’s. Good fun, and a terrific set from Chris Potter – but all too short.
-Sunday I was at the free Clore Ballroom for Alex Riel ’s talented group, then Little Red Suitcase (an interesting duo I thought were bit overwhelmed by the space – I’d like to see them in a club setting) and Ibrahim Electric (great Scandinavian jazz rock).
-Then on to the free stage in the QEH to watch Soweto Kinch and Shabaka Hutchings giving their take on the history of modern jazz. This was articulate, interesting and brilliantly presented – and made me want to throw things! I fundamentally disagree with their Wynton Marsalis-like views on jazz as a music that is only legitimate if it draws its inspiration from the tradition. What a shame there was no opportunity for debate.
-On Monday I was away from the festival, watching Fela! At the National Theatre (incidentally am I the only person who realised that the brilliant sax playing wasn’t done by the much lauded star? Let’s hear it good ‘n’ loud for Idris Rahman, playing superbly in the background while the star mimed!)
-Tuesday was one of my highlights – the Orchestre National de Jazz led by Daniel Yvinec playing music by John Hollenbeck. This is a fantastic group of young musicians playing exciting modern European Jazz (it’s broadcast by Jazz on 3 on November 22nd and on iPlayer after that) [IT’S ALSO ON VIDEO, THE FOLLOWING DAY’S CONCERT, THE FRENCH PREMIERE IN RHEIMS HERE]
-On Wednesday I went to see Marilyn Crispell and Raymond MacDonald at the Vortex. Another terrific gig.
-Saturday 20th was my bad decision day. I was at the free Clore Ballroom watching a great gig by Outhouse with Hilmar Jensson (I’m playing a couple of tracks from their new CD on my show on http://www.ukjazzradio.com this week!). Being lazy I then decided to stay put and go to see “Matthew Herbert composes the Guardian”. As a result I missed a couple of great gigs – and this was a big mistake! There were a few nice pieces in the concert, and a bit of playful fun, but it all felt a bit juvenile and there wasn’t enough good music to compensate.
-And then finally on Sunday another highlight – Billy Jenkins and the BBC Big Band. A spectacular finale that left everyone feeling great.(to be broadcast on Jazz Line–Up on Sunday January 30th)
Overall the festival is now massive, but its starting to develop a number of mini-festivals: on the South Bank, at the Barbican and less obviously in Dalston – and that’s probably the way it needs to develop given the size of London and the variety of music available.
Definitely this was the best yet – long may it continue.
UPDATE TWO (Nov 24th) : London Jazz Festival’s Official Survey with Prizes. FOLLOW THIS LINK