All That Jazz - the London Jazz Festival

It’s all over London - from packed clubs to concert halls, the London Jazz Festival, is 'the hub' for Jazz musicians and fans alike. Produced by the creative company 'Serious' in association with BBC Radio 3, the ten day long jazz extravaganza is not only one of the city’s key music festivals, but is considered a major international jazz event. A number of London’s venues ranging from concert halls such as the Barbican and the Royal Festival Hall, as well as smaller jazz clubs, such as Ronnie Scott's and Vortex host this event.

The Camden Jazz Week of the 1970’s could be considered an ancestor to the London Jazz festival as the later seems to have evolved from it. It all began with the inclusion of a Jazz Week into the long-established Camden Festival by the London Borough of Camden.  The Camden Jazz Week was held at several venues around the borough – the Roundhouse, Shaw Theatre, Logan Hall, Bloomsbury Theatre, the Forum - both as part of the spring Festival, and in some years, adding an Autumn week as well. The early nineties witnessed the dawdling and demise of the Camden Festival, however, the Jazz Week survived and under the initiative of the creative company 'Serious', took a new direction.

Photo Courtesy - Emile Holba
The London Jazz Festival was designed as a forum for a mix of British and International Jazz artists to connect and collaborate  in a city where a trend of rich cultural exchange was beginning to emerge. Soon the week long festival extended to a ten day long international music event, where Jazz musicians from all corners of the world showed up to perform at different venues all over London.

While each year is beguiled in its own way, the London Jazz Festival preserves some landmark moments in its book of reminiscence. Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra performing the first ever concerts at the Hackney Empire, and Michael Garrick, Frank Holder and Coleridge Goode paying tribute to the late Joe Harriott in a trio that collectively was some 250 years old.

Every succeeding year brings new contributions- classic and contemporary, to the world of Jazz. The London Jazz Festival has made a steady transition from north London to London-wide and from May to its present November slot. The festival’s unmatched euphonic appeal has not only established its influence in London’s cultural calendar, but made it an affair that inspires music lovers from across the world to show up and be a part of.

-by Parmita Borah