Live reviews

‘The Hydra Presents EFG London Jazz Festival’ at Printworks (2022 EFG LJF)

The Hydra Presents EFG London Jazz Festival

(Printworks. 18 November 2022. Live review by Gareth Thomas)

Danilo Plessow at Printworks. Photo by Gareth Thomas

On the final Saturday night of the EFG London Jazz Festival, a vast crowd assembled at Printworks, south London’s industrial-printing-plant-cum-nightclub, to mark the EFG London Jazz Festival’s 30th birthday. The 12-hour long celebration was the biggest-selling event of the festival, with 6000 tickets sold. It’s difficult to determine the exact split in the audience between those consciously there as part of the festival, and those that were simply attending as regular clubbers and Printworks punters. Regardless, the crowd was loving it.

Arriving halfway through at around 6pm, I was just in time to catch the tail end of Danilo Plessow’s set. The influential German-born DJ, also known as Motor City Drum Ensemble, could be seen (or just heard, depending on where you were in the crowd) expertly mixing funk and soul, disco and house music to a swath of people in the Press Halls: the largest of the two music rooms at Printworks.

At 8pm, the smaller, less densely crowded Inkwells room was host to DJ Ritu, whose career has spanned over three decades and across 35 countries. A key figure in the Asian Underground movement, her set was a personal highlight: blending heavy jungle beats with Bhangra, Bollywood, Latin and Reggae elements into a brilliant multicultural melting pot of sounds.

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Back in the Press Halls, internationally renowned musician, DJ and producer Bonobo closed the night with his headline DJ set. While it featured less of the ambient Lo-Fi/trip hop elements that Bonobo’s recorded material and live band performances are known for, the set of electronic grooves and ambient soundscapes was certainly a crowd pleaser, thanks in part to Printworks’ revered light show.

Joe Armon-Jones doing his DJ set.
Photo © Jake Davis (instagram:jakephilipdavis) courtesy of Broadwick Live

The connection, which all this had to the London Jazz Festival, and to “jazz” in the wider sense is somewhat tenuous – especially with the absence of any live music performance in the traditional sense, at least during the five hours that I was there. But the lines between jazz and electronic music (among other genres) has long since been blurred, and pockets of jazz could clearly be found within Printworks’ sold-out event: perhaps most notably from the likes of Joe Armon-Jones and Maxwell Owin, names more closely associated with the London jazz scene, as well as DJ Mafalda and NTS resident DJ Zakia.

Perhaps the right way to judge an event like this is as a birthday party, a celebration of 30 years of the festival. On those terms, and with 6000+ people clearly enjoying themselves, it was a success.

With thanks to Broadwick Live

LINK: Printworks London website

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