The Barbican Centre is one of London’s Crown Jewels. A hub for culture and creativity, it’s the perfect place to look if you fancy something a bit different. This week, London Jazz Festival has arrived at The Barbican along with a number of other venues across the capital, bringing a 10 day celebration of jazz. I went along to see one of the performances – here’s the verdict.
When I think of seeing live jazz, I think of a cool, dark bar with cabaret style seating and lots of whisky on the rocks. That’s probably because I know nothing about jazz. Instead of stepping into 1950s New Orleans, we stepped into a very normal looking theatre. The atmosphere in the theatre was very sophisticated but still very warm. Throughout the show, I managed my urge to get up and dance by doing some subtle head bopping an foot tapping. I guess jazz is too cool for dancing. The audience was quite obviously a mix of people who really know their jazz and people, well, like me, but the applause was loud and plentiful and the artists could definitely feel the love.
The first act we saw was up-and-comer Jacob Collier. On stage was a crescent of instruments with the man himself in the middle. He played an electrifying set, showing off his musical talents on more instruments than I could count, including the piano, guitar, drums and his voice. Jacob plays a modern style of jazz I’ve never listened to before but after such a brilliant performance I will certainly be adding him to a couple of Spotify playlists.
The main act was multi Grammy award winner Terence Blanchard and his group E-Collective. They played a style of jazz I’m more familiar with, and they played it excellently. After more head bopping and foot tapping the performance ended to resounding applause.
The Fine Print
The London Jazz Festival is on until Sunday 22nd November so there is still time to get tickets and try something new! There is a real range of events, some of which are free, and, if The Barbican is not convenient, there are tons of other venues across London taking part. If you do want to visit The Barbican but don’t fancy jazz, take your pick from a variety of theatre, dance, art, film, music and educational events – you’re spoilt for choice!
I had an excellent time at this show and enjoyed the stripped back, all about the music approach. As a jazz novice, I would certainly recommend using the London Jazz Festival to dip your toes in and experience music in a different way to what you’re used to.
Have you taken an interest in London Jazz Festival this week? Let me know what you thought!