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EFG London Jazz Festival 2020 - Top Picks and Lineup

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

In July, EFG London Jazz Festival announced they will press on with this year's festival, despite the circumstances, through ‘Living in Two Worlds’ - blending live music and digital streams in a wide-ranging programme.

This year, the festival has joyously announced that they'll be producing 100 live shows in 10 days and 50 specially created streams taking place in 25 venues. The festival announced this year's celebrations with a live-streamed video which you watch below:

The benefit of this year's festival format is that the London Jazz Festival is able - for the first time - to reach beyond London itself, giving access to the rest of the UK and the world to experience the music and events. There also many free events being showcased online too, so will also be accessible to more people too.

Check out our top picks (live, digital, as well as free viewings) as well as more about his year's festival below.

EFG London Jazz Festival 2020 - Our Top Picks:

Friday 13 November

Bradley Zero (Rhythm Section)

Rhythm Section Live [gig - Jazz Cafe]

Bradley Zero hosts and curates a show of breakout talent associated with the South London tastemaker record label. 

Dinosaur [gig - Kings Place]

Mercury-nominated jazz quartet Dinosaur are celebrating a decade of music-making as a band with the release of their critically acclaimed third album, To The Earth, released on Edition Records which they will finally present live in London as part of the festival.

Emma-Jean Thackray [free digital performance]

Composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, bandleader and DJ Emma-Jean Thackray - who recently spoke to Ally - is performing a free online set, which was filmed at Total Refreshment Centre.

Saturday 14 November

Cassie Kinoshi (SEED Ensemble)

Tigran Hamasyan [livestream performance]

Armenian piano maestro Tigran Hamasyan will be performing material from his new album, The Call Within.

Celebrating the life and work of spiritual jazz icon Pharoah Sanders (who turns 80 this October), Cassie Kinoshi and SEED Ensemble perform music from his much-revered songbook, live-streamed from the Barbican Hall.

BBC Young Musician 2020 Final [gig, plus recorded for broadcast on BBC TV, Radio and online - Cadogan Hall]

The BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020 competition reaches its thrilling conclusion as five exciting new jazz performers compete for the coveted title. At the end of the evening, one will be named BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020. And returning to the scene of his triumph, 2018 winner - saxophonist Xhosa Cole - will make a very special guest appearance.

Jazz Plus Ensemble [free digital performance]

Jazz Plus Ensemble brings together young musicians from across the UK to reinvent the Big Band sound. Their debut album, released this summer, was recorded and filmed in a colourful railway arch in Brixton. The filmed studio sessions showcase the immense talent and infectious fun of these brilliant young musicians.

Sunday 14 November

Ruby Rushton (22a)

Tenederlonious presents the music of 22a [gig - Shoreditch Town Hall]

For this very special EFG London Jazz Festival performance, the label’s maestro Tenderlonious will be leading a showcase of material from across the imprint’s artists and releases over the last few years, with music from and collaborations between Ruby Rushton, Nick Walters, his Tubby Hayes tribute The Piccolo, and more surprises, along with a DJ set from Dennis Ayler.

Daniel Casimir & Tess Hirst present their timeless debut album on Jazz Re:freshed. Released at the end of 2019 it was a foreshadowing of what this year will be remembered for. 

Certain Reveries of Ben LaMar Gay [free livestream event]

In the tradition of toddler crayon scribbles on perfectly painted bedroom walls, multi-freshness artist Ben LaMar Gay expands on the teaching of Alabama star spirits and presents a collection of work involving sound, fabric, movement, rivers, shadows, Lagosian memories, light and listening. Co-Presented by International Anthem.

Tuesday 17 November

Kevin LeGendre

Join Kevin Le Gendre and special guests for an insightful and challenging conversation on race, racism and the need for change within the music industry, with this first part discussing 'Revolutionary Versus Reactionary'. This series, and the EFG London Jazz Festival, stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

Wednesday 18 November

Zara McFarlane (Credit: Casey Moore)

In the second part of this insightful and challenging conversation on race, racism, this segment focusses on the need for change within the music industry, entitled 'In What Language?'

Take Five Presents: Jelly Cleaver [free digital performance]

The inaugural Take Five presents features performances by 10 artists from the last two years of Take Five, who Serious have commissioned to create a bespoke video of a performance of some of their newest material which will be broadcast throughout the festival.

Jelly Cleaver is a bandleader, singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer based in South London. With an eclectic taste in music, Ben has described her sound as having a "completely unique style that utilises elements of punk, soul, funk and jazz, Jelly is heavily involved in both the jazz and DIY/punk scenes in London. She's also an activist, and a strain of political dissent runs through her music.

Zara McFarlane [gig - Jazz Cafe]

Multi-award winning singer-songwriter Zara McFarlane is the UK’s Black British foremost jazz vocalist. Eloquent and provocative her sound is distinguished by her melding of multiple influences from jazz, reggae, folk and nu-soul.

Shabaka Hutchings with Britten Sinfonia [gig & livestream - Barbican]

Saxophonist, clarinettist, composer and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings is one of the foremost proponents of the current British jazz scene, playing in a variety of groups, most notably Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming and Shabaka & the Ancestors, embracing influences from the sounds of London’s diverse club culture, including house, grime, jungle and dub. In this concert, his background as a classically trained artist will take centre stage. Blurring the lines between jazz and classical music he performs Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, written for the ‘King of Swing’ Benny Goodman, alongside Britten Sinfonia, followed by Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet, and a solo improvisation on clarinet.

Thursday 19 November

Yazz Ahmed

In the third part of this insightful and challenging conversation on race, racism and the need for change within the music industry, this segment is called 'Our generation & their Institutions'.

Yazz Ahmed [gig - Kings Place]

Through her music, British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed seeks to blur the lines between jazz and electronic sound design, bringing together the sounds of her mixed heritage in what has been described as ‘psychedelic Arab jazz, intoxicating and compelling’.

Camilla George [gig - Jazz Cafe]

MOBO-nominated saxophonist Camilla George fuses African and Western sounds to achieve a beautiful blend of Afrofuturism, hip hop and jazz. A star of the renowned Jazz Jamaica, George has since gone on to produce two albums of critical acclaim in Isang and The People Could Fly.

Sarathy Korwar [free digital performance]

Indian tabla player and percussionist Sarathy Korwar presents a very special performance from the hallowed Total Refreshment Centre as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival.

Friday 20 November

Tomorrow's Warriors present Charlie Parker Songbook [gig & livestream performance - Church of Sound]

Two pillars of the London jazz scene join forces for the first time with a celebration of the legendary Charlie Parker on his 100th anniversary, with a specially curated set from Bird’s songbook performed by some of Tomorrow’s Warriors finest alumni Nathaniel Facey (saxophone), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Moses Boyd (drums), and led by the none other than Gary Crosby himself with a rare live appearance on upright bass.

Jazz 625 [free digital showcase]

The iconic jazz show Jazz 625 returns to BBC FOUR, in association with EFG London Jazz Festival, with a sensational line-up celebrating the boom in the UK jazz scene, featuring Sons of Kemet, Sarathy Korwar, Matthew Halsall, Moses Boyd ExodusNubya Garcia, Ezra Collective and Kokoroko and more.

Saturday 21 November

Binker Golding

Rosie Turton [free digital performance]

Trombonist, composer and producer Rosie Turton is a rising star on the UK music scene, cited by The Guardian as ‘One To Watch’. Rosie's performance will be available free online and was filmed at Total Refreshment Centre.

Binker Golding [gig & livestream performance - Kings Place]

In addition to his work with MOBO award-winning jazz duo Binker & Moses, saxophonist Binker Golding has played and recorded with some of the UK jazz scene’s most exciting talents, including Zara McFarlane, Ashley Henry and Elliot Galvin.

Sunday 22 November

Kansas Smitty's

Kansas Smitty's House Band [gig - Jazz Cafe]

Led by American-Italian alto-saxophonist/clarinettist Giacomo Smith - who recently spoke to Ally - and featuring a wide array of young and exciting British jazz talent, Kansas Smitty’s astutely bridge traditional and modern jazz forms in seamless and sublime fashion.


EFG London Jazz Festival - What's On and Lineup [Press release]:

The Festival’s signature opening night, Jazz Voice brings an array of wonderful singers and surprise guests at Cadogan Hall, directed by Guy Barker and band, featuring China MosesDavid McAlmontLuca Manning and Cleveland Watkiss, hosted by Jumoké Fashola.  

For a special Festival performance, producer/multi-instrumentalist Tenderlonious will lead a showcase of material from his record label, 22a at Shoreditch Town Hall with music from and collaborations between Ruby Rushton, Nick Walters, his Tubby Hayes tribute The Piccolo and more surprises, along with a DJ set from Dennis Ayler.

The iconic Church of Sound returns to the festival with Nathaniel FaceyShirley Tetteh and Moses Boyd, joining up with Tomorrow’s Warriors’ young musicians, led by Gary Crosby, in celebration of Charlie Parker’s Songbook on his 100th birthday.

At Kings Place there is an extensive programme of music from the heart of the UK jazz scene: Mercury-nominated quartet Dinosaur, celebrating their 10th year together, composer Matt Calvert showcasing his acoustic album TypewrittenJason Yarde and the ACOUTASTiC BOMBASTiC ensemble premiering new explorations, the intoxicating “psychedelic Arab jazz” of composer/trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, the free improvisation of  Ill Considered and award-winning saxophonist Binker Golding with material from his latest album Abstractions of Reality Past & Incredible Feathers.

The Jazz Café’s new programme includes James Holden with Waclaw Zimpel, saxophonist Camilla George and the Kansas Smitty’s House Band.   There will be a special new collaboration between Kit Downes and Korean composer SooJin Suh at PizzaExpress Holborn and a programme featuring the likes of Henry Lowther’s Still WatersXhosa ColeNorma Winstone with Nikki Iles and Stan Sulzmann and Jeanie Barton with Tony Kofi at PizzaExpress Dean Street and The Pheasantry.

British performance artist GAIKA with Azekel & Miink will present PALATIUM at Café OTO – a collaborative audio-visual performance that is a visceral investigation of inner and outer worlds and a haunting and politically pertinent exploration of the artists’ personal archive of jazz vinyl, contemporary electronic production and experimental film. 

This year for the first time, the Festival is creating Jazz Yoga, two special events where live audiences bring their yoga mats to experience award-winning bass player Shri Sriram playing live with yoga teacher Constanza Ruff.


Keep up-to-date with EFG London Jazz festival via their website and socials:

If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation to The Runnymede Trust and/or the Race Equality Foundation to help further equality within the UK.


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