Sunday afternoon at the Vortex in Dalston, is a popular affair. And during the London Jazz festival, word of the London Jazz Orchestra’s gig has spread even further afield. Squeezed round little tables or standing patiently by the bar at the back, the enthusiastic crowd were ready for a rich repertoire of large scale works of modern Jazz, featuring John Warren’s music on his 80th birthday.

The London Jazz Orchestra was formed in 1991 and the afternoon’s line-up includes regulars and new young players, soloists including Henry Lowther, Martin Speake, Pete Hurt and Tori Freestone. The talent and energy of the orchestra is indisputable, lead by the charismatic Scott Stroman it was an extraordinarily vibrant three hours of modern, yet accessible Jazz. Worth noting that if you missed this one, they have had a residency at the Vortex for 18 years and can be found here once a month.

John Warren on a table with friends, looked pleased with his cake and rousing rendition of happy birthday, not to mention the dedication of ‘Many Happy Returns’ a new piece by Martin Hathaway, which opened the second set. Scott Stroman, guided us through Warrens’ compositions from the early 1970’s (works featured in the John Warren band for thirty years) through amazingly titled works such as the triumphant ‘Hailstone Pickle Dance’ right up to ‘Crag Side’ written four years ago. The London Jazz Orchestra has always featured works written by it’s members and tonight included music written for the band by John Warren, Robbie Robson, Lowther, Hurt and director Scott Stroman.

The EFG London Jazz Festival, has had an amazing twenty fifth year, continuing to grow in breadth and depth. But when it’s all over, there’s nothing more uplifting than a few hours with the London Jazz Orchestra (LJO) who continue to set the standard in modern jazz, with new writing that ranges from atmospheric ballads to full-throttle ensembles.