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EFG London Jazz Festival 2021 Top Gigs To See

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As one of the capital’s most keenly anticipated annual events, the EFG London Jazz Festival never fails to surprise. This year’s lineup, running from 12-21 November, with big names and emerging acts, is no exception. Produced by acclaimed music promoter Serious, the festival features more than 300 shows, in 75 venues, proving that live music is truly back.

Following 2020’s digital version, the Festival returns with a program of live performances by global stars, special collaborations and exciting new artists. Opening the festival on 12 November is Jazz Voice at the Royal Festival Hall, led by Guy Barker. The specially created EFG London Jazz Festival Orchestra are joined by an impressive line-up of international guest singers who bring a new and contemporary take on jazz, neo-soul and global music. CeeLo Green’s bassist Adeline, cellist-singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Kurdish singer Aynur, Neo-soul sensation Ego Ella May, genre-defying singer Michael Mayo, jazz vocalists Georgia Cécile and Sachal Vasandani will all feature at the first gig.

Also, certain to be an unmissable gig at the Royal Festival Hall will be a tribute gig, on 13 November, to the late great Nigerian drummer Tony Allen featuring Damon Albarn, Ben Okri, Femi Koleoso and Remi Kabaka. Tony Allen’s influence on Afrobeat, jazz, techno, hip hop and rock will be celebrated by a great line-up of musicians including Tom Excell, Cassie Kinoshi, Dave Okumu, Ezra Collective, Joan as Police Woman, Lava La Rue, Nitin Sawhney, Jimi Tenor and many more.

Another great orchestra gig will be Soweto Kinch on 19 November performing his new work White Juju with London Symphony Orchestra. Written in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Black British history and the past 18 months of lockdown, the work was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra and Serious. White Juju is made up of six new works for a jazz quintet and chamber orchestra. The piece is deliberately danceable and intentionally seeks to subvert expectations of orchestral music.  

Other top gigs will include Archie Shepp and Jason Moran, Dave Holland and John Scofield, Charles Lloyd (with support from UK jazz supergroup Nerija), Cecile McLorin Salvant, and Django Bates and Cleveland Watkiss. Genre-bending artists Yo La Tengo, Black Midi and Moor Mother (in collaboration with Pitchfork Festival), Irreversible Entanglements and Angel Bat Dawid, will show that the influences of jazz stretch well into the world of indie, rock and rap. 

The legendary Malian duo Amadou & Mariam return to the Royal Festival Hall on 14 November. Guitarist/vocalist Amadou Bagayoko and vocalist Mariam Doumbia met at Mali’s Institute for Young Blind People. Today, they’re among the best known faces of contemporary West African music, combining traditional Malian music with Cuban song and funk to reggae and blues. With eight studio albums and collaborations with international artists like Damon Albarn, Manu Chao and Somali rapper K’Naan, Amadou & Mariam continue to expand the limits of Malian music.

The Festival has also partnered with Women In Jazz on 17 November at London Colour factory to present a show that features the best in new UK female rap, hip hop and soul – featuring JGrrey, Kay Taylor, Izzy Bossy and Rosie Lowe.  

The current edition of the EFG London Jazz Festival runs from Friday 12th to Sunday 21st November 2021.

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