Omar Puente and Melt Yourself Down get Canary Wharf Jazz Fest moving


The Canary Wharf Jazz Festival has been successfully putting on a free weekend of concerts since 2007 and its 11th incarnation featured a host of jazz, latin and crossover acts. An appreciative audience had already gathered at Canada Square Park to hear bop pianist Rob Barron, accompanied by virtuoso vibraphonist Nat Steele and guitarist Colin Oxley.

By contrast, young singer Poppy Ajudha began her set with her tribute to Billie Holiday in the form of an R&B version of 'Speak Low', followed by a selection of original tunes and her version of Solange's 'Cranes In The Sky'. Cuban violinist Omar Puente (below) had the crowd dancing to his infectious Afro-Cuban grooves while Norfolk's Mammal Hands provided the ambient chill-out music, starting their set with their now familiar tune, 'Quiet Fire'.

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Saturday's programme was completed with a fiery and energetic set by Riot Jazz Brass Band who created a party atmosphere in an otherwise corporate enclave of East London, with MC Chunky getting the crowd moving, and drummer Steve Pycroft and sousaphonist Pete Robinson laying down a steady groove to Riot Jazz originals such as 'Checkmate'.

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Sunday began with Brazilian vocalist Luna Cohen and British guitarist Rob Luft performing mellow latin grooves while talented guitarist Clement Regert's Wild Card (above) played an eclectic mix of well-known tunes such as Mongo Santamaria's 'Afro Blue' and a unique version of 'Fever' with vocalist Annabel Williams, with an all-star band that included trumpeter Graeme Flowers, saxophonist Jim Knight and drummer Sophie Alloway.

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The staff at Canary Wharf were on hand to dispense free waterproof ponchos for the many who braved the rain to hear the grooving, ethereal sounds of Shabaka Hutchings and The Comet Is Coming (above) before Pete Wareham's Melt Yourself Down (pictured top) brought the festival to a close with some intense and upbeat grooves.

Charlie Anderson

– Photos by Lisa Wormsley