By George Crowley
Autumn always seems to me to be a time of particular energy on the London jazz scene, due in part to new seasons of gigs beginning, the certain ‘back to school’ vibe of conservatoires recommencing (and with them, a whole new raft of young musicians hitting London for the first time) and of course the huge event that is the London Jazz Festival taking place in mid-November. Just as a cynic might snort at the arrival of new student hopefuls into a scene where steady paid work is by no means guaranteed (and already hotly contested), one might easily regard the festival as a bittersweet sign of what might be in an alternate reality: ten days of gigs full to capacity, happening late jam sessions on a nightly basis – jazz and improvised music all around.
It is all too easy to fall into the mindset that this exposure of, and interest in, the music should exist the whole year round, and of course that would be brilliant, but to bemoan its absence would be to miss the opportunity to celebrate that heightened attention while it occurs. It is, of course, fantastic – and, I think, essential – that the festival promotes the ‘grass-roots’ or independent gigs in London which happen the year round and which are totally essential to the scene. In my experience, some of my favourite ever gigs during festival time are not the big, superstar acts who fill the Festival Hall but seeing less prominent acts in smaller-run venues with that amazing festival atmosphere, which is often partially created by the fact that for at least some of the audience, this kind of thing is a new experience.
This issue of Green Chimneys is packed full of just those sorts of gigs; the promoters putting on the great concerts listed here are committed to gaining as much attention as possible for the wonderful and diverse music that gets made in London on an everyday basis, as well as during the Jazz Festival. If you’re reading this as a listener you’re probably already at one of those gigs, and you probably already get it, but if I can ask one thing of you, please pick up another couple of copies and give them to your friends!