London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3 returns to the Barbican with a stellar line-up of artists including Imelda May, Sonny Rollins, Neil Cowley Trio, Chick Corea and Macy Gray

Friday 9th – Sunday 18th November 2012

The London Jazz Festival, produced by Serious in association with BBC Radio 3 returns to the Barbican this November, featuring a fantastic line-up of concerts, workshops, FreeStages and a complementing film series in the Barbican cinemas.


9 November
Imelda May joins Grammy-award winning vocalist Patti Austin and jazz soul-diva Julia Roberts to complete a stellar line-up of vocal talent including Natalie Duncan, Claire Martin, Junior Giscombe, Gwyneth Herbert and Brendan Reilly for the London Jazz Festival’s signature opening-night gala Jazz Voice, which returns with its epoch-spanning celebration of singing and song, under the direction of Guy Barker and his 40-piece orchestra. Actor, writer and comedian John Sessions will host the evening.

10 November
Melody Gardot has mastered the art of capturing mood and emotion. Building on the success of her two best-selling albums Worrisome Heart and My One And Only Thrill, Gardot performs from her new album The Absence. Support comes from Luisa Sobral.

11 November
John McLaughlin remains at the forefront of electric jazz. Not only playing on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew but also forming his pioneering Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the groundbreaking Shakti, it is without hyperbole that The Guardian calls McLaughlin 'one of the few Europeans to divert the course of jazz history'. His work with The 4th Dimension puts him at the forefront of today’s electric jazz. Arun Ghosh and his exciting live band perform hypnotic music, updating the rich lineage of the Indo-jazz sound with 21st century attitude and energy.

14 November
’Brad Mehldau is the doyen of contemporary jazz pianists,’ says The Guardian, ‘an improviser whose instinctive, emotional command of the instrument is complemented by a formidable intellect.’ He returns to the Festival with his renowned trio, featuring Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier, to perform from their latest Nonesuch album Where Do You Start.

16 November
Octogenarian Theodore Walter ‘Sonny’ Rollins returns to the Festival to defend his title of ‘saxophone colossus’ – or, as The Daily Telegraph put it, ‘the most revered and honoured jazz musician on the planet’. He had worked with Miles Davis and Bud Powell before he turned 20. And, with Coleman Hawkins as his idol and Thelonious Monk as his mentor, Rollins went on to establish himself as one of the finest tenor saxophone players of all time.

17 November
In this ‘never-been-done-before project’ original pianist/composer Neil Cowley joins forces with violinist/arranger Julian Ferraretto and a 30-piece ‘big strings’ orchestra from Goldsmiths College, bringing a new perspective to music from the trio’s highly acclaimed 2012 release, The Face of Mount Molehill, as well as material specially composed for the concert.

Chick Corea comes to the Festival with bassist Christian McBride, a marquee name in his own right, and Brian Blade. One of the most prominent jazz musicians of the last fifty years, Corea is a masterful acoustic pianist, whether at the heart of a stellar trio such as tonight’s, or in collaboration with the likes of Bobby McFerrin or Bela Fleck, as well as an acknowledged pioneer of fusion stretching back to the landmark Miles Davis albums In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew. 18 Grammy awards reflect his status as one of the most prominent jazz musicians of the last half-century.

18 November
Hot on the heels of a performance to a packed crowd at the Back2Black Festival this summer, Macy Gray joins saxophonist David Murray’s roaring big band in a blues-and-soul-drenched set of covers – from Metallica and Kanye West to Willie Dixon and James “Blood” Ulmer – and songs by Macy herself.


The Barbican’s FreeStage offers some excellent performances as part of this year’s Festival with its ongoing commitment to present some great music and entertainment for free each month.

9 November
The music of Sweden’s Cecilia Stalin takes in hip-hop, nu-jazz and swing. Her collaborative track Waltz For Koop appeared on the soundtrack of Woody Allen’s Match Point, and she has also worked with The Streets, The Cinematic Orchestra and Charles Tolliver’s Big Band. Here she presents her latest project, Step Like A Giant – a new take on the music of Coltrane.

10 November
Fast-emerging French drummer Anne Paceo performs with pianist Leonardo Montana and bassist Joan Eche-Puig from their latest album Triphase – a brilliant merging of three creative spirits, resonating with the sounds of Catalonia, Brazil and Africa. French trumpeter Stephane Belmondo’s connections are multiple, his inspiration varied, and his references far beyond the boundaries of any one genre. His quartet make their London Jazz Festival debut performing from their 2011 Verve album The Same As It Never Was Before.

11 November
The Festival throws a spotlight on Finland with sets from four contrasting bands. Improvising trio Black Motor combine jazz with other genres including blues and Finnish folk. They have worked with Raoul Björkenheim, Iro Haarla and Peter Brötzmann, while their latest album was nominated for the Finnish version of a Grammy. New improvising quintet Rakka draw on influences ranging from Finnish folk music and old dance hall music, through to blues, gospel and jazz. They make their first London Jazz Festival appearance around the release of their debut album.
Finnish-Norwegian trio Kuára draw inspiration from Russian psalms and traditional Scandinavian folk songs, creating evolving soundscapes and contrasting stark textures with rich expression, performing from ECM album Kuára: Psalms and Folk Songs. Singer and composer Anna-Mari Kähärä has won Finland’s prestigious Georgie Award, and the Finland Prize from the Ministry of Culture in recognition of an outstanding artistic career. With her all-star quartet she blends jazz, folk, pop and poetry.

14 November
A vibrant new energy in French jazz, Thomas de Pourquery is a brilliant live performer, both as a singer and saxophonist. Visiting the UK for the first time, he brings his acclaimed DPZ Quintet featuring trombonist Daniel Zimmermann.

16 November
Sid Peacock ’s anarchic 16-piece big band, described as 'exciting, uplifting, kaleidoscopic, disorientating, warm, funny, crazy n’all', conjures the spirits of Frank Zappa, Carla Bley and Django Bates to create 'inspiring, wildly creative music of avant-garde bite yet emotional weight' The Independent.

17 November
Acclaimed British drummer/composer Tommy Evans presents The Green Seagull – a bold suite of music inspired by the life of his uncle, David Partridge. Performed by a 13-piece orchestra containing some of the top musicians from the north of England, this musical patchwork combines jazz, folk, Indian and classical music to create rich soundscapes, songs and hypnotic grooves.

Originally inspired by Coltrane’s Helsinki concerts of the early 1960s, flautist and saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen long ago developed a sound that is truly his own. London Jazz Festival is proud to welcome a still-vital elder statesman of European jazz.

18 November
Directed by Malcolm Edmonstone and Andrew Bain, Scotland's finest young jazz musicians of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland are joined by the ever popular and daring Rick Taylor in their 20th anniversary year.

Ronnie Scott’s Big Band in a Day gives young Londoners the opportunity to be mentored by the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, and perform on the main stage at the iconic venue. This “best of” edition brings together a group of participants from the last 12 months to play a one-off showcase at London Jazz Festival.

The National Youth Jazz Collective Octet (hand picked from the 2012 Summer School) perform works by eight of the nation’s most talented young jazz players, shortlisted by the Watermill Jazz Young Composers Award 2012.

Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning presents a performance from the East London Creative Jazz Orchestra; the culmination of a residency with the radical trioVD.

Combining neo-soul, R&B, hip hop and Arabic music, singer-songwriter Noraay comes to London Jazz Festival with her new acoustic project Creation, featuring oud player and guitarist Stefanos Tsourelis.


9 November
The Guildhall School’s renowned Jazz Department showcases its work at this year’s London Jazz Festival. Six-time winners of the BBC Big Band contest, the Guildhall Jazz Band has performed with a host of international guest soloists over the years, and former band members include several well-known names in British jazz. Special guest pianist and composer Nikki Iles joins the ensemble for the evening, directed by Scott Stroman.


On both Sundays during the London Jazz Festival there will be fun sing-along vocal workshops designed for the whole family, led by Basement Jaxx singer Brendan Reilly (11 November) and Swedish songstress Emilia Mårtensson (18 November). Recommended for ages 12+ and some singing experience would be welcomed.


The opening programme for the Barbican’s new cinemas – the first addition to the venue since the arts centre opened in 1982 – launches with a six-week celebration of film across Cinema 1 and the new Cinemas 2&3 on Beech Street: Step into the Dark is a major Barbican produced, five-strand season of films, exploring dystopia, the sublime and the surreal on screen, and will connect across other work happening in the Centre.
One of the strands – Everyday I Have the Blues – explores jazz and blues on film, complementing the London Jazz Festival in the Barbican Hall throughout November. Two seminal jazz films by revered American independent filmmaker Shirley Clarke, The Connection (US 1962) and Ornette: Made in America (US 1985), receive their UK premiere in sparkling new digital restorations. Ondřej Pivec who is considered one of the most distinctive musicians on the Czech jazz and fusion scene will perform his new jazz score for Czech silent-era classic The Organist of St Vitus’ Cathedral (Varhaník u sv. Víta) (Czechoslovakia 1929). And especially for this season, New York filmmaker and archivist Joe Lauro will curate a programme of rare performance footage of jazz and blues greats from the Historic Films Archive , including T Bone Walker, Howling Wolf, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Muddy Waters.