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.

Jonathan Bratoeff Quartet – 18/11/08 The Others, LJF

“I am aiming to make honest and powerful music,” not an ignoble ambition, but one that very few manage to achieve. Guitarist-composer Jonathan Bratoeff did however meet this self-proclaimed aspiration and on this form London has a bright emerging star in its midst.

Kurt Elling – 18/11/08 QEH, LJF

During one of the evening’s many spoken interludes, Kurt Elling, lyrics in hand, speaks in awe of an album recorded in one take - without rehearsal. An album, a precious gem in the repertoire of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, that Elling is interpreting in concert form along with co-producer, arranger and pianist Laurence Hobgood. It works, for the performance is as flawless as the original collaboration was. Elling brings 1963 New Jersey to the Queen Elizabeth Hall via the ‘Solid strings’ quartet, Ulysses Owens Jr on drums, Clark Sommers on bass and Bennie Maupin; whose own alliances only need recalling by first name, ‘McCoy, Herbie and Miles.’

Richard Bona/Danilo Perez - 15/11/08 Barbican, LJF

Having established himself as a key member of Wayne Shorters quartet, tonight's first half performance saw pianist Danilo Perez take centre stage with his own acoustic trio. The dynamic and open-approach afforded to Perez's compositions like Galactico and Love Stories, afforded a rich and organic quality to the extent that, at times, it was difficult to identify any written melody. Though Shorter's influence is clearly evident, the trio's adventurous style illustrated Perez's sublime intelligence as an acclaimed composer and performer in his own right.

Herbie Hancock - 15/11/08, RFH, LJF

Performing in front of a sell out crowd on what was the London Jazz Festivals opening weekend, pianist Herbie Hancock unveiled a brand new sextet that initiated what was to be a marathon set, lasting the best part of three hours.

A muscular rendition of the Headhunters Actual Proof found bassist James Genus and young drummer Kendrick Scott in fine form while harmonica player Gregoire Maret was in free flight as his virtuosic solo's ascended to an animated crescendo. An unsuspecting reworking of Speak Like a Child ebbed and flowed around the main theme, which become almost unrecognisable, before the group entered into an improvised reworking of Wayne Shorters V (for Visitor).

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