Jazz saxophonist and clarinet musician Frank Griffith will perform at the 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival, which starts this week and sees its landmark 21st birthday year. As the Festival comes of age; the 10-day spectacular’s claim to be the capital’s biggest pan-city music festival is reinforced by approximately 2,000 musicians attending from all over the globe.
Mr Griffith, 54, born in Oregon, is on the judging panel for the renowned Dankworth prize for Jazz composition and is a purveyor of jazz. He started playing clarinet aged 6 and began to develop as a jazz musician at 16. A composer, arranger and performer; he will perform and arrange the Café Society Swing show, which celebrates a venue in New York called the ‘Café Society Club’ back in the late 1930’s and 1940’s with songs from this era. Written and produced by musical composer Alex Webb, this one-off performance is a rare treat as its sell-out run at the Tricycle theatre finished last year.
The legendary Café Society Club, owned by Barney Josephson, who died in 1988, historically broke convention by promoting racial equality. Hosting some of the most celebrated black musicians in history such as Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Lena Horne amongst others.
Mr Griffith said ‘It’s the story of a club. The club was besieged by what they call redbaiting, which was McCarthyism in the 1940’s and 50’s when people who were accused of being communists were brought back down to their knees and their businesses and their livelihoods were destroyed. Many of those accused, who didn’t whistle on their mates, had to leave the States, so there’s a lot of drama, it’s not just a bunch of songs.’
With performers like Alexander Stewart, Gwyneth Herbert and China Moses (daughter of Dee Dee Bridgewater) on stage, this promises to be a unique re-enactment and well worth the £16-18 fee.
The London Jazz Festival has an impressive partners and supporters list but this year secured title sponsorship for the event from private bank group EFG International. Talking about the banks sponsorship, Keith Gapp, EFG’s Head of Strategy and Marketing said ‘What’s good about jazz is it’s not a musical form where there’s a lot of posturing or pretence, it’s a passion that connects with people for the rest of their lives.’ The self-proclaimed jazz fan added ‘Organisation of the London Jazz Festival is absolutely first class. It’s one of the greatest jazz festivals in the world.’
The Festival has venues ranging from Café OTO to the Barbican, so whether you prefer an intimate setting or a full-on concert hall; there is certainly a wide choice; over 280 performances in more than 60 venues. The next week and a half will see established names like Bob James and David Sanborn amongst a diverse range of worldwide respected musicians plus newly emerging stars. An expected 75-80,000 jazz lovers from far and wide will descend on our nation’s capital to consume this musical feast.
Evolving from the Camden Jazz Festival, the Festival’s journey to adulthood has grown and progressed with the help of Arts Council England National Portfolio organisers ‘Serious’. Publicist for Serious, Sally Reeves said ‘We are delighted to be celebrating the 21st birthday of the EFG London Jazz Festival, it’s going to be one of the best years yet.’
The events include free debates, interviews and performances as well as ticketed shows. There are also jazz and sing-a-long workshops for children.
The Café Society Swing Show is on the 21st November at the Arts Depot in North Finchley. The London Jazz Festival runs from the 15th to the 24th November.
China Moses sings ‘What is this thing called love?’ from the Cafe Society Show
Further details are available online at http://www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk.