This year's London Jazz Festival produced by Serious in association with BBC Radio 3 takes place from Friday 9 to Sunday 18 November with a lineup of artists which rivals in scope and in quality other major international jazz festivals. Featuring Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall and the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Sonny Rollins, Lucinda Williams, John McLaughlin's 4th Dimension, Jan Garbarek, Esperanza Spalding, David Murray and Macy Gray, this year's festival brings together some of the top names in the jazz world with artists whose work crosses over from other genres creating a rich panoply of musical innovation and syncretism.
The London Jazz Festival opens at Southbank Centre with the Robert Glasper Experiment and their signature combination of jazz, hip hop and R&B along with Phantom Limb which brings country and classic R&B together. Joining both groups is MF DOOM, renown British-American hip hop artist. Conterminous to this event is another opening-night gala at the Barbican entitled 'Jazz Voice: Celebrating a Century of Song' which features Imelda May, Patti Austin, Juliet Roberts, Brendan Reilly, Claire Martin, Gwyneth Herbet, Junior Giscombe, Natalie Duncan and Patti Austin.
Other surprises at this year's festival include Finnish group Oddarrang which combines postmodern rock and classical within a jazz format, Seeds Of Creation which offer an innovative approach to jazz, drawing on Arabic and Afro-blues influences, Paco de Lucia, the grand master of flamenco, and Michael Janisch & Aruan Oritz Quintet which features saxophonist Greg Osby. And for those jazz aficionados on a tight budget, there are on average four free concerts daily which can be found at the Barbican, Southbank Centre, Ray's Jazz at Foyles, and Kings Cross St Pancras, among other venues and a plethora of concerts for under £10 daily.
In addition to the 30 nightly concerts throughout the festival, this year's festival premieres films which demonstrate the close collaboration between jazz and film, offering the opportunity to hear from various directors. The 'Feast of Jazz Film' features films on Barbara Thompson, Sonny Rollins, Michel Petrucciani and Afterglow. Also of interest in this year's festival are the various talks and masterclasses including "Hear Me Talkin' To Ya," a series of pre-concert talks which feature Kurt Elling and Sheila Jordan, Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea and Duncan Heining and Alyn Shipton. 'Jazz in the New Europe' is a major new initiative for 2012 that brings seminal figures together with emerging talent from around the continent in a string of new collaborations and commissions, club nights and panel sessions.
The 2012 London Jazz Festival reveals an eclectic mix of artists and an egalitarian representation of musical forms from around the planet which converge in the capital for the purpose of exploring the wealth of this genre while also testing the limits and flexibility of jazz musical styles.