PREVIEW: EFG London Jazz Festival Crazy Coqs, Live at Zédel programme

Leïla Martial
Photo Credit: Sylvain Gripoix 

The bustling intimacy of Crazy Coqs, a small gem of a club tucked away in the heart of London’s theatre district just a hop, skip and jump from Piccadilly Circus, is one vital element of an atmospheric venue that not only thrives on the spirit and adventure of live performance but also provides a setting where both audience and performer can feel right at home. At this year’s London Jazz Festival the venue is putting on a host of eclectic jazz including a sprinkling of UK debuts. Stephen Graham previews what’s in store.

On the opening night Friday 10 November in the early evening slot of 7pm it’s the turn of Leïla Martial. Making her UK debut, this award-winning French singer’s style encompasses jazz and rock delivered with a certain élan. Later in the evening two of the UK’s best jazz singers Emily Saunders and Georgia Mancio combine in a high powered duo setting. Billed as The Voice Mix, Emily has curated the show and performs with her band while Georgia guests. Expect latin-infused grooves with edges of drum & bass and infectious melodies from Emily while in Georgia’s hands originals and interpretations of the Great American Songbook find their place alongside each other in a perfect match.

There’s a change of focus on Saturday 11 November and the first of two performances by a legendary veteran of US jazz piano as the perennially popular Kirk Lightsey appears with his trio for some connoisseur shows. One of a chosen few of Detroit jazz musicians recruited by Berry Gordy at Motown, Kirk has accompanied many singers over a long and distinguished career, from Betty Carter and Aretha Franklin to Joe Lee Wilson and Gregory Porter. Here he strips it right back in his trio where he is joined by British bassist Steve Watts and drummer Dave Wickins.

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Sunday 12 November sees the Will Butterworth Quartet play The Nightingale and the Rose, a themed concert read by One Show presenter and former MP Gyles Brandreth comprising a suite of music shaped around an Oscar Wilde children’s story. Later, in the 9pm slot it is the second night of the Kirk Lightsey Trio.

On Tuesday 14 November the 7pm show provides an opportunity to enjoy the appearance of rising star French organist Laurent Coulondre, an award-winning performer who has opened for Sting and Marcus Miller. Later in the evening another specially themed gig reveals itself with The Jazz Side of Dudley Moore pianist Chris Ingham’s Quartet homage to much loved comic and gifted pianist Dud.

A big highlight of Live at Zédel’s London Jazz Festival programme this year is Hard Rain in which acclaimed jazz cabaret singer Barb Jungr sings Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen repertoire on Wednesday 15 November in the early show featuring material drawn from Barb’s 2014 album of the same name. Both the show and album have been lavished with praise with the show selling out a three-week New York run, and two nights at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2016.

         Barb Jungr
              Photo Credit: Courtesy of Zédel Brasserie

Later the same evening the highly unusual Tao of Jazz features philosopher Dr Julian Baggini keeping company with vocal guru Juliet Russell, with Baggini exploring the fascinating links that can be made between philosophy and jazz and, in doing so, revealing what can be learnt about the way to live just by listening a little closer.                         
Thursday sees a return to the piano with Paul Ryan and Kenny Clayton in the late slot celebrating the immense contribution that jazz pianists have made to the Great American Songbook. Expect Fats Waller, Erroll Garner and Nat King Cole material. Earlier in the evening, with a further show on Friday 17 November, there’s plenty of gutsy soul and a smattering of blues with ex-Communards singer Sarah Jane Morris in the company of leading blues guitarist Tony Rémy and Trinidad-born Tim Cansfield.

Sarah Jane Morris with Tony Rémy and Tim Cansfield
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Zédel Brasserie

Emily Saunders returns in the late slot on Friday this time with special guest star drummer Davide Giovannini in a Latin-themed show.

As the festival draws to a close there’s time for more new names and Saturday 18 November sees Cuban singer/violinist Yilian Cañizares make her UK debut while Marcel Lucont fills the late slot with his remarkable Cabaret Fantastique, Cañizares returning to wrap up the Zédel LJF programme on the final evening of the festival in some style. (pp)

LINK:  Live at Zédel

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