Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Jazz Voice (London Jazz Festival): Royal Festival Hall 11/11/16

London Jazz Festival - Jazz Voice review 2016 @bluesandsoul.com
London Jazz Festival - Jazz Voice review 2016 @bluesandsoul.com

Now in its 9th year, the Festival’s signature opening-night gala (now housed at the Royal Festival Hall) kicked off the EFG London Jazz Festival to mixed effect. Personally, I much preferred the warmer atmosphere of the Barbican and its acoustics...but it was just me, you could tell by audience reaction, tonight worked for some but failed for a fair few others, sadly.

John Pizzarelli kicked off promisingly enough with some nice medium Jazz swing with Macca's "(Someone's Knocking On The Door) Let 'Em In" - great to see him up close, grooving away on his lovely jazz guitar

Soul jazz siren and Blue Note rising star, Kandace Springs, shone too (perhaps on a little too early with the sombre "Soul Eyes") but her action packed weekend at least started with flair, grace and style.

However, the trite sounding Lady Leshurr was somewhat out of place with her orchestrated grime number "Brush Your Teeth". Frankly, it was a stretch too far. She certainly had a 'ring of confidence' in her swagger but needed far more attitude from the key components of the orchestra, as did LaSharVu's take on The Fugees' classic "Killing Me Softly" - ambitious attempts which failed to hit the sweet spot (I really wanted to hear that sitar riff orchestrated too!). Great vocals, but a bit of a let down on the whole - incidentally, doing a Take That number was cringeworthy!

However, Lizz Wright, Allan Harris and Polly Gibbons saved the day with their classy performances of some surefire Jazz standards.

Lastly, a mention for whimsical host and presenter Jay Rayner, who delivered his compèring material with aplomb - not to mention a few half decnt jokes added for good measure, the best being, "they are THE best orchestra in London...for their price range!"

I agree! Lol.
Words Emrys Baird

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