Tuxedomoon - Purcell Room, Monday 19 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Although it ironically stood out as their leitmotif, time wasn’t on Tuxedomoon’s side last Monday night. The small Purcell Room struggled hard to accommodate 30 years of prolific, artistic collaborations, celebrated in the album Vapour Trails (11/2007). Seconds after the five ubiquitous, polyglot, multi-instrumentalist, San Francisco legends walked onstage, Peter Principle’s silent amp aborted the wild cheer of the eclectic audience.

John Surman - Wigmore Hall, Saturday 24 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Anyone looking for an ECM-signed saxophonist to deliver a London Jazz Festival set of sparse, near-spiritual splendour would no doubt have attended Jan Garbarek’s Royal Festival Hall show earlier in the week – and they would no doubt have left highly disappointed, as reviews on this site attest.

This set by fellow ECM saxman John Surman at the somewhat smaller Wigmore Hall, was a more low-key affair, yet it delivered everything lacking in the Norwegian’s performance. An exercise in subtlety and restraint, it was as evocative and deeply moving as anything this reviewer has seen all year.

Tim Garland's Northern Underground Orchestra - Purcell Room, Wednesday 21 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Tim Garland certainly has the skill of a true showman.  His performance with The Northern Underground Orchestra in the intimate Purcell Room was expertly choreographed from beginning to end and never lost sight of the band’s interaction with the audience.  Garland made sure that this was an accessible gig for all as he introduced the pieces, players and their respective instruments at every opportunity.  However, making the music comprehensible to any potential lay listeners in no way limited the scope of the evening’s proceedings.

Jef Neve Trio, Yaron Herman Trio, Pizza Express, Wednesday 21 Nov - London jazz Festival

The piano trio appears to be enjoying something of a renaissance post-Brad Meldhau, EST and the Bad Plus, so seeing two of Europe’s finest trios brought together in the atmospheric setting of Pizza Express Jazz Club was a major success for the London Jazz Festival.

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.

The Write Stuff

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