Preview: London Jazz Festival, Various venues, London

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The Independent Culture

This year's London Jazz Festival is dedicated to Ella Fitzgerald. To mark 90 years since the birth of "the first lady of song", it opens with a gala concert of her songs performed by artists such as Jamelia, Claire Martin and Lea DeLaria.

For 10 days, venues across London will come alive with the sounds of bebop, beatbox, free jazz, Euro-jazz, big-band swing and avant-garde world- music collaborations.

Vieux Farka Touré, the son of the Malian musical titan Ali Farka Touré, will be bringing his desert blues to the capital. Elsewhere, the Barbican welcomes the veteran jazz drummer Steve Reid, who began his career at Motown at the age of 17, and has played with Miles Davis, Sun Ra and James Brown.

"I like London because it is a free-spirited type of thing, open-minded, that's what you need in jazz," he says. "Jazz is changing now – it survives by change. It changed from swing to bebop to avant-garde, and now it's changed to something else, but it always remains jazz because of its improvisation and freedom of rhythm."

Reid will be playing with his ensemble and Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), with whom he has made three albums. On his latest album, Daxaar, which he describes as "a little soothing balm for the difficulties of life", Reid performed with Orchestra Baobab from Senegal, who play the Jazz Café as part of the festival.

So what is it that makes the London Jazz Festival stand out? For Reid, the reason is simple: "It's right there with the people and right there in the city, one of the greatest cities in the world. There's no other festival like it."

Other highlights include Barry Adamson, the Southbank's artist-in-residence for the festival, previewing his new album and performing his favourite film scores. The saxophonists Sonny Rollins, from New York, and Norway's Jan Garbarek, the double bassist Charlie Haden and the trumpeter Jon Hassell will also be appearing.



16 to 25 November www.londonjazzfestival.org

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