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How better to spend a winter weekend than listening to live jazz? From Friday 29th November until Sunday 1st December, 40 musicians will grace The Canvas Stage at Islington Square in a weekend-long event curated by saxophonist and composer Alice Leggett, and hosted by London-born, Paris-based jazz vocalist Stephanie O – who also plays the opening set each day. This three-day event sees their contemporaries present styles ranging from Brazilian and swing through to contemporary jazz. Curated with you and yours in mind, this ‘Feeling Good’ weekend is a celebration of the power of music and its magic to make you feel good and bring us closer to one another.
First up: Stephanie O, will present melodic tunes in her set, which introduces each day of the weekend’s festivities. George Crowley Trio follows – comprising the eponymous lead, along with bassist Tom Farmer and drummer Tom Giles – for a playful take on sax trio classics, lesser-known gems and some of Crowley’s own compositions. Next, the Sam Glaser Quartet – a four-piece exploring improvisation within a contemporary tradition, while paying due respect to jazz’s established tradition of memorable melodies and distinctive grooves. Followed by Riley Stone-Lonergan’s trio, also aficionados of improvisation, playing the music of their forefathers and some of their own original pieces. “Expect excitement, warmth and joy,” they explain.
Cue Saturday – and after Stephanie O’s set, Heidi Vogel will take the stage. Vogel has been a vocalist with the highly acclaimed The Cinematic Orchestra since 2006, appearing on shows, albums and even opening for Erykah Badu. For this performance, she teams up with Luca Boscagin on guitar and Carl Smith on percussion, bringing Brazilian vibes to elevate and entertain. The three-piece is followed by Josephine Davies’ Quartet, featuring the diverse sounds of drummer Gene Calderazzo, pianist Sam Leak and bassist Oli Hayhurst. Next up, illustrious composer and educator Liam Noble leads a trio formed especially for the festival, playing pieces from Ornette Coleman’s In All Languages. And finally, the Alex Hitchcock Quintet, an award-winning ensemble which has toured Europe at length, comes to Islington to present what All About Jazz calls an “exquisitely subtle collection of tunes”.
Stephanie O performs for the final time on Sunday, the third and final instalment of the jazz weekend. Her set introduces the weekend’s curator, Alice Leggett, with her quartet (featuring Rick Simpson, Calum Gourlay and Will Glaser) playing a number of their lead’s original compositions, along with arrangements of well-known jazz standards. Tom Barford follows, leading a groove-inspired organ trio set comprised of music by the likes of John Schofield, Larry Goldings and Joe Lovano. Penultimately, Dave Storey – one of the leading drummers on London’s jazz scene – takes to The Canvas stage, showcasing his trio’s recently released debut album Bosco, pushing boundaries while maintaining a fluid, conversational approach to improvisation. And finally, closing out the weekend, award-winning pianist and composer Rick Simpson will strip it back to a trio-format, playing his signature adventurous approach – which he’ll absolutely not discuss in advance. (You’ll just have to wait and see.)