BopFest 2019 – straight from the hip

The fifth incarnation of London's autumn paean to bebop and its progeny includes Steve Fishwick, US pianist Michael Weiss, and tributes to Brubeck and Shelly Manne

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BopFest 2019

BopFest 2019 is a jazz festival featuring a week of the best bop and straightahead jazz Britain has to offer, with a host of visiting US and European artists. It runs November 18th to 24th 2019 during the EFG London Jazz Festival at Toulouse Lautrec in Kennington, London.

Musician/hosts Allison Neale and Nat Steele are very excited about the lineups this year – “We have a wide variety, including the great pianist Michael Weiss direct from NYC, two highly prominent Italian jazz musicians, Luigi and Pasquale Grasso, and the renowned US-based drummer Mark Taylor, all also by way of New York and Paris, featured alongside the UK’s best jazz musicians”, says Neale.

Steele says: “We’ve commissioned new work from trumpet player Steve Fishwick, with original writing for his new nonet inspired by material from the great 1967 McCoy Tyner album Tender Moments on Blue Note”.

Fishwick adds: “The music is influenced by Coltrane, but the style is unmistakably Tyner’s, forging a music heavily modal but with a hard bop aesthetic, a style that Trane had long abandoned”.

It’s the 60th anniversary of Brubeck’s 1959 classic Time Out, with a one-off performance of the album by the Nick Tomalin Quartet featuring Neale, two trio performances by up-and-coming pianists Mátyás Gayer and Alex Bryson, Nat Steele’s NYC/London Quintet, and Matt Skelton’s celebration of West Coast Bop, “Shelly Manne’s Live At The Blackhawk” Quintet.

This year they’ve added two workshops by the visiting artists, bringing the expertise of NYC jazz musicians to players and students in the UK, one each by guitarist Grasso and pianist Weiss.

Started in 2015 as a protest against the lack of recognition of the straightahead jazz scene in the official EFG London Jazz Festival, BopFest has generated such success each year since that it has been incorporated into the LJF as part of the festival’s programming, although still independently led by Steele and Neale. Tickets and full details are available at bopfest.co.uk and are priced £15–£20, with a “stroller” to the whole festival for £130.

This article was prepared with the assistance of the promoter.