UPDATE 22 OCTOBER: THE FESTIVAL HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO 28-30 JANUARY 2021. WE WILL UPDATE THIS PREVIEW ASAP
From Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 October, PizzaExpress Live in Holborn, London will be the venue for the 8th edition of the London Latin Jazz Festival, writes Rosa Sawer
For the third year in a row, the festival has been curated by artistic director Eliane Correa (picture/profile below). It will celebrate music rooted in Latin and jazz influences, showcasing musicians from the UK and beyond. The selection process was made more difficult by the ongoing restrictions, because, as Correa says, “I had to curate the whole thing around the fact that people can’t just throw their chairs aside. But it’s still going to be high energy!”
Over the 3 days, there will be an eclectic mix of four exciting acts: Dorance Lorza and the Sexteto Café, Waaju, Latin Bridge Quartet and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Sessions.
Correa always designs the Festival to reflect different aspects of Latin jazz: “The idea is to always have something Cuban, something traditional Latin jazz, and a couple of more innovative bands: fusions of Latin and Jazz music with other things.”
First on the line-up is Dorance Lorza and Sexteto Café who will be performing at 8pm on Thursday 22 October. One of the leading bands on the vibrant London salsa scene, they were one of the first bands to use the small combo sound of the 1960s and 70s on stage and use mellow arrangements to achieve their sound. Correa describes the music as “very danceable but nice for sitting down and listening to”, so a perfect fit for the current situation.
Waaju, a group led by percussionist and drummer Ben Brown, is next up on Friday 23 October. According to Correa, their music is “modern, multicultural and mature” and they “prove that Latin jazz is a lot more open and prone to renovating itself … it’s about breaking the stereotype.” Their new album Grown is accredited to all five members, a combination that has produced a fresh London sound with influences from both African and Latin music.
After a sell-out show at the Jazz Café, Latin Bridge Quartet will be playing the lunchtime slot on Saturday 24 October. Correa describes them as “one of the more interesting Cuban bands in the UK.” Performing Cuban traditional music but with a soulful feel as they reimagine the classic boleros, sones and bossa novas. They also perform songs from the Nueva Trova repertoire, something which is not often heard outside of Latin America.
The final act of the Festival will be The Afro-Cuban Jazz Sessions Vol II, performing twice on Saturday at 6pm and 9pm. This performance will be exclusive to the Festival and is Correa’s personal highlight because it unites Latin and Afrolatin sounds with the evolving, new London sound. Correa’s innovative idea looks to create a musical conversation between Afro-Cuban musicians in the UK or Europe alongside various up-and-coming UK trios or quartets. The musicians are given one day on the premises to practice before performing two live sessions shortly after.
This second edition welcomes Neue Grafik, a French pianist, producer and DJ (known as DJ Fred Bwelle) and one of the most talented musicians to come out of the new French and European electronic/jazz scene. Grafik will be playing alongside musicians from the UK jazz scene. The fusion will be directed by Cuban percussion virtuoso, Hammadi Valdes. No doubt as Correa says, “it’s going to be experimental and unexpected” and “part of the beauty of it, is the improvisational element.” A whole new creation every time. But Correa hopes it won’t end here: “this is an ongoing thing and there is a whole list of UK jazz artists that we want to work with.”
In accordance with the government guidelines, PizzaExpress Live will be operating at 50% capacity, so that for each session there will be 60 tickets available.