Preview: BopFest, London

The third BopFest brings a week of top bop and straightahead jazz to central London's Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club this November

Vibraphonist Nat Steele and saxophonist Allison Neale are the brains behind BopFest, a festival focusing exclusively on bop and straightahead jazz. The third edition runs from 19 to 25 November, alongside the EFG London Jazz Festival, bringing nine concerts and a workshop to the Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Bar.

The 2018 programme features concerts from both of the organisers. Nat Steele and his quartet (pictured right, L-R, Dario di Lecce on bass, Steve Brown on drums, Steele on vibes and Gabriel Latchin on piano) will be joined by New York saxophonist Grant Stewart in a concert dedicated to the Sonny Rollins With The Modern Jazz Quartet album. Neale’s West Coast Quartet – with Alex Bryson (p), Dave Chamberlain (b) and Matt Fishwick (d) – will showcase the music of Art Pepper and Bud Shank. Neale (pictured below left) will also appear in a duo performance with pianist Eriko Ishihara, supporting Stewart’s quartet.

Other headline acts due to appear include the Osian Roberts Quartet, Rob Barron’s New Quintet, the Raible/Gradischnig Quintet with a tribute to Elmo Hope, the Artie Zaitz Organ Combo and the Ofer Landsberg Quartet. Leon Greening’s Art Blakey Celebration Sextet (including Steve Fishwick on trumpet and Matt Home on drums) closes the festival with a programme of some lesser-known music from the Jazz Messengers. Stewart (pictured below right) and Rob Barron will lead a two-hour saxophone and improvisation workshop on Saturday afternoon, open to all instruments and to professional as well as amateur players.

Each concert will have the same format: a duo will play a support set in the venue’s restaurant, when food will be available, then the headliners will play in the 80-seat jazz club. Tickets are on sale for individual concerts and for the workshop.

The programme is as follows (all dates are in November, support sets begin at 7.00pm unless otherwise stated):

Monday 19: Raible/Gradischnig Quintet + Will-Arnold Foster/Sam Braysher Duo. £14.
Tuesday 20: Rob Barron New Quintet + Claus Raible/Giorgios Antoniou Duo. £14.
Wednesday 21: Osian Roberts Quartet + Dave Chamberlain/Dario di Lecce Duo. £14.
Thursday 22: Allison Neale West Coast Quartet + Luke Steele/Gabriel Latchin Duo. £14.
Friday 23: Artie Zaitz Organ Combo + Mark Crooks/Graham Harvey Duo. £14.
Saturday 24, 4.00pm: Grant Stewart workshop. £20.
Saturday 24, 7.00pm: Grant Stewart Quartet + Eriko Ishihara/Allison Neale Duo. £16.
Sunday 25, 1.00pm: Nat Steele Quartet with Grant Stewart [no support]. £16.
Sunday 25, 6.00pm: Leon Greening’s Art Blakey Celebration Sextet + Dave Warren/Julian Bury Duo. £20.

The Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club is at 140 Newington Butts, Kennington, London SE11 4RN. For more information and to buy tickets, please go to the BopFest website.

Bruce Lindsay

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