Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis: Lullaby for a Sleepless City – EFG London Jazz Festival 15 November 2013


Taking this journey back from Krasnodar I thought to myself that London's going to be my Mecca for it is the only city on Earth you can dream of going to practice the Language of Queen. Imagine my amazement mixed with bewilderment when upon landing I realized that the Capital of English speak all the languages you can think of starting from Chinese and Russian to world languages of Art and Music apart (if not except) from their native one.

Yesterday's evening, I experienced a whole-new cascade of emotions by getting introduced to people who master the discourse of Music practicing it to the utmost level and making it comprehensible to the multicultural city. Being invited to the show of EFG LJF by Zenna Edwards and Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis I found myself forgetting about the "language gap" simply diving into an absolute cosmopolitanism.

The lady who came on stage last night, an African-British bright rising star Zenna Edwards proved the point of the world facing total convergence of both natural and artificial languages, of both global and local mentalities into one common way of interaction. Her rich rhythmical a capella voice backed by traditional African instruments mbira, kalimba and some guitar expressed her inspiration by ever-alert world where the very notion of what we used to call jazz evolved into a mix of ever-young & complete ethnic music with the ever-experienced urban art.

The idea of introducing traditional African tunes and tales into performances gains its foothold among African-born musicians more and more as the world accepts their endeavor to preserve the legacy by the originals, people being at the cradle of today's jazz.

Second set of the night by incredible Hugh Masekela and Larry Willis removed all doubts if any, about Music being ever-revitalizing elixir of life for those who tried it once. The two senior musicians in their late 70s recalling hanging out with Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, or Miles Davis in the prime of their lives, gave an astonishing performance leaving many young vigorous jazz players far behind. You can only envy that vital force cast upon them by passion to share the Music, to tell the story and get heard, which they were lucky enough to make the essence of their lives.

Their music was lullaby to the restless city, to all who came to get told the story of life and listen to the universal language: jazz spoken masterfully by its authors.

– Ilya Fedorov