Tord Gustavsen Trio, Stefano Bollani and Enrico Rava - Barbican, Wednesday 21 Nov - London Jazz Fest

In an evening designed to showcase the celebrated European record label ECM, listeners at the Barbican Centre were treated to a pair of highly differing acoustic performances. The Italian duo of maverick young pianist Stefano Bollani and veteran trumpeter Enrico Rava played with a zestful understanding that openly defied their age difference of more than 30 years. Long solo passages from both men were sandwiched between frequent periods of glorious interplay and, surprisingly, several warm doses of Mediterranean comedy. Bollani’s sense of humour especially shone through as he embellished his improvisation with inventive musical quotes and physical movement, such as closing the lid of the piano or gesturing to the heavens.

Bill Bruford and Michiel Borstlap - Purcell Room, Saturday 24 Nov - London Jazz Festival

It’s a rare occasion when you can go to a concert and have as little clue about what you’re going to hear as the musicians do.  This was the unusual situation for former Yes and King Crimson legend Bill Bruford, and Dutch improviser Michiel Borstlap in their concert-length improvisation session in the Purcell Room.  Borstlap instantaneously composed the melody on piano and keyboard, while Bruford provided extensive percussive accompaniment on a myriad of drums, bells, cymbals and gongs; many of which were suspended from a huge frame behind him.

Portico Quartet, Three Trapped Tigers, Gannets Tuesday 20 Nov - London Jazz Festival

It’ s not often that you get a chance to see three of the most exciting new bands in British jazz on one bill, so it came as no surprise last night when an exuberant audience packed into the sold out Vortex jazz club. Opening the night were the explorative free-jazz group Gannets. A definite emphasis on humour prevented their riotous sound from taking itself too seriously, a lot like the Art Ensemble of Chicago after a hefty shot of adrenaline.

Fraud - Vortex, 21 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Memorably described (by the Jazzwise editor, Jon Newey) as the jazz equivalent of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Fraud’s not inconsiderable reputation seems to rest largely on the fact that they make a hell of a lot of noise. And, with frequently distorted electric guitar and two drummers – not mere percussionists, but each with a full trap kit – there’s little doubt that when they go, they really go. They prove as much on multiple occasions in this LJF performance, remaining quintet members on keyboards and tenor sax joining that trio for a ferocious, hell-raising blast of near-primal intensi

Joshua Redman - QEH, Thursday 22 Nov - London Jazz Festival

The genre of the sax-bass-drums jazz trio is dogged with constant comparisons to Sonny Rollins’s landmark recordings, so it took someone with the charisma and sheer musical talent of Joshua Redman to transcend these comparisons. Indeed, given a Mohawk and dark sunglasses, Redman could pass for Rollins in his prime.

The Write Stuff

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