Killer Shrimp – 15/11/08 606 Club, LJF

On the night that the 606 opened its doors to the 2008 London Jazz Festival, Killer Shrimp produced a performance of uncompromising Hard-Bop Jazz that left none in doubt of their flair and talent.

There is an impressive ease of communication within this piano-less quartet and particularly between the two horn players, Damon Brown (Trumpet) and Ed Jones (Tenor Sax). This is especially noticeable during the heads and when the horns traded eight’s and four’s between themselves and the prodigiously talented Troy Miller (Drums). Each seems to be able to complete the other’s phrases with consummate ease and to anticipate when and how the other will raise and release the harmonic tension.

Femi Kuti – 14/11/08 Royal Festival Hall, LJF

Tonight’s support artist Ayo is humble and calm. While her talent could summon an attitude, it would diminish her simple charm. As she played hits such as Down On My Knees she endeared those new to her. Fans were already acquainted with her sweet soul/folk vocals. As she improvised to the Afrobeat, she reluctantly let go of her self-confessed shyness and slipped into the shifts and swirls at the heart of her Nigerian culture.

Froy Aagre – 16/11/08 Spice of Life, LJF

To bear witness to a live Froy Aagre performance is to be charmed. Her distinctive quality lies in blurring the line between pre-performance composition and in-performance composition (improvisation) by making a clear and concerted effort that both are inspired by the same thought, feeling or conception.

Frøy Aagre with Kenny Wheeler - 16/11/08 Spice of Life, LJF

One of Norway's leading saxophonists, Frøy Aagre has helped cement her reputation abroad following a versatile set on Sunday evening, playing to an attentive audience crammed into the Spice of Life. Aagre is no stranger to Britain having lived and studied in Birmingham and London for four years, and appeared relaxed as she introduced her young quartet, comprising Andreas Ulvo on piano, Freddy Wike on drums and Audun Ellingsen on bass. Testing new material, she approved quite a few tracks for future release on the back of the warm rounds of applause each received.

Manu Katche Band - 17/11/08 - QEH, LJF

For a man often described as a forgotten drumming hero, this was a pretty unforgettable performance. Manu Katché is a rare commodity: a musician who really is a style unto himself. He is neither a rock nor a jazz drummer but he manages to combine a big rock/pop sound with the elegance and subtleties of jazz. Add African tribal influences, several years in Paris’ elite Ecole Superieur and you will have something pointing in Katché’s direction.

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