Acoustic Ladyland, Fulborn Teversham, Luke Barlow Band - Luminaire, 22 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Luke Barlow’s quartet, led from the keyboard, play something like a cross between Django Bates and Frank Zappa: manic, tight compositions, sudden rhythmic shifts and shredder guitar solos.  They lack the finesse of either Zappa or Bates, but they pack a good punch, and keep the listener on their toes.  It was bit much for some: I had to put up with the Thought Police standing behind me all the way through, telling his friends why it was wrong to enjoy this sort of thing (they did, from what I could tell); Acoustic Ladyland are obviously not attracting a conventional jazz audience.

Joshua Redman - QEH, Thursday 22nd November - London Jazz Festival

The youthful Empirical were clearly enjoying themselves as they opened the evening for Joshua Redman.  Buzzing on the success of their debut album, the Quintet played all their own compositions to a sold out venue.  When Redman finally took to the stage he admitted that he’d never heard of these guys before, but whoever booked them had it just right.  With echoing, heavily pedalled piano and a drummer playing far beyond his years, Empirical anticipated the joyful playing of Redman’s trio.

Jan Garbarek - RFH, Sunday 18 Nov - London Jazz Festival

As the man whose icily austere sound has a better claim than most to epitomise the sound of long-time label ECM, one would expect to apply many adjectives to a Jan Garbarek performance. “Funky” is not one of them. 

Ian Shaw - 606 Club, Sunday 18 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Delightfully subversive, Welsh-born jazz vocalist, lyricist, pianist, and producer Ian Shaw ignores all disciplines but one: Music.  Profusely chitchatting with a friend behind my back, after the 606 Club’s traditional request for silence, his loud presence quickly stood out of the hushed audience. Insolently comfortable, the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards winner for Best Vocalist only interrupted himself to navigate his way through to the stage. 

Gerard Presencer, St Cyprians Church, Saturday 17 Nov - London Jazz Festival

The unconventional setting of St Cyprians Church was the chosen stage for the first London performance of Siobahn Lamb’s four-part composition Meditations.  Featuring Gerard Presencer on trumpet and flugelhorn, the varied ensemble for the evening’s concert included a string quartet, harp, four piece vocal consort and even a children’s choir.  The inclusion of a very young group of singers in the third movement was a brave move, but as Presencer himself said as the gig opened; “I’ve always considered myself to be an improviser first and foremost.”  Contrasting with the professional performance of the other players, the children certainly added an air of uncertainty to the music; infusing the piece with innocence and excitement.

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