City of London Festival – nothing to sink your teeth into properly – except…

The City of London Festival runs this year from June 26th to August 12th. In the past couple of years we’ve been able to get our teeth into a substantial jazz-related event.

In 2009 it was Jan Garbarek resonating low B flats in a large practice room called St Pauls Cathedral. From last year I remember the Grand Union Orchestra’s Sadjo Djolo entering the Great Hall in St Bartholomew’s, his kora rising from his groin, making King Henry VIII who stares off the wall, look a bit, well, under-powered.

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This year, scouring through the programme, the only substantial thing I can find to sink my teeth into is the didgeridoo of William Barton (above). The festival has an Australian and Oceania theme.

There are jazz events, but mostly free lunchtimes or 6pms.


A really interesting (paid-for) gig will show the free jazz side of Shabaka Hutchings to good advantage in the company of Mark Sanders drums, John Edwards bass, Leafcutter John , electronics and Kit Downes piano (Hammond?) at St Sepulchre Newgate on July 14th at 6pm


30 June Barts Courtyard 12.30pm Alexander Stewart

7 July Ian Shaw St Barts Hospital Cortyard 12 30pm

8 July Kai Hoffman Guildhal Yard 12 15pm

14 July St Bartholomew’s Hospital Courtyard, Neon Quartet, 12 30pm

21 July Michael Janisch Quartet St Bartholomew’s Hospital Courtyard 12.30pm

4 August Rhythmica New Street Square 6pm

5 August Andrea Quintarelli Broadgate noon

11 August : Kai’s Kat’s Paternoster Square 12 noon

12 August Rob Rickenberg’s Swing Thing in Paternoster Square, noon


But, with no big jazz-related event, I’m a bit disappointed this year. Please try harder.

But, yes, the COLF does have didgeridoo improviser William Barton (above).

He’ll be up on Parliament Hill Fields on July 3rd, and doing concets with pianist Piers Lane and the Goldner String Quartet. But the pick has to be the a solo improvisation and the Peter Sculthorpe Requiem in Southwark Cathedral on July 6th.

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2 replies »

  1. William Barton was an artist in residence, together with composer Peter Sculthorpe, at the 2004 Lichfield Festival. He is an extraordinary player, and his ability to play hip-hop and rap through the didge has to be heard to be believed. I can't recommend him highly enough.

  2. I don't think you are giving the 4 free lunchtime events in St Bart's courtyard the write-up that they deserve. They are all substantial (to use your word) bands or musicians, all curated by the Worshipful Company of Musicians, featuring top-class players who are associated with the Company, often through having won its prestigious annual Young Jazz Musician competition, eg Nathaniel Facey, Michael Janisch, and Jim Hart. And it's simply not fair to Ian Shaw to say there is nothing to sink your teeth into – he appeared in this series in 2009 and 2010, and is genuinely back because of popular demand for his unique combination of musicianship, tasteful vocals, and wisecracks. Don't confuse free lunchtime events with low quality !

    Nigel Tully. Chair, NYJO, and jazz committee, WCoM.

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