Gypsy Jazz Festival of London, 6-13 May

    Festival director Tobie Medland looks forward to seeing Stochelo Rosenberg, Gismo Graf, Tcha Limberger and more

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    Stochelo Rosenberg (left) and Paulus Schafer

    Having risen to fame as one of the pioneers of the gypsy jazz revival of the 1980s, Stochelo Rosenberg has found himself performing at Carnegie Hall with the great Stéphane Grappelli, and touring to play at most of the world’s chief jazz festivals. This May, to headline the third edition of the UK’s major international festival dedicated to jazz manouche, Stochelo performs at the home of the London Symphony Orchestra: LSO St. Luke’s in Old Street.

    Backed by Arts Council England the Gypsy Jazz Festival of London runs from 6-13 May at several well-known venues across the city: The Vortex Jazz Club, Pizza Express, The Pheasantry and Crazy Coqs all feature.

    Determined to challenge stereotypes associated with the genre, namely that it is “vintage” and lacks complexity, the GJFL has a track record of promoting (and selling out) concerts that demonstrate the best of the cutting edge. This year, guitarist Adrein Moignard – sideman to Cyrille Aimée – joins forces with Daniel John Martin to bring their Parisian power-quartet to Pizza Express in Chelsea. Rising star Gismo Graf, guitarist for such revered artists as Billy Cobham, Didier Lockwood, Randy Brecker and Eddie Gomez, plays the Vortex Jazz Club. And British guitarist John Wheatcroft leads his trio at the Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club in Kennington. John, as well as being a renowned educator, composes original music heavily inspired by modern jazz and fusion.

    Stochelo Rosenberg is joined by his long-time collaborator Paulus Schäfer. Both Dutch guitarists are members of the Sinti community, as are many of the pioneering musicians of the genre. Their quartet is completed by British double bassist Simon Read and me, Tobie Medland, on violin. They are supported at LSO St. Luke’s on Saturday 11 May by Karen Street and her local quartet.

    There’s also a show from multi-instrumentalist Tcha Limberger, a prominent figure in Carpathian folk music as well as a jazz violinist. He appears Friday 10 May at World Heartbeat Auditorium, Nine Elms/Battersea in Tcha Limberger’s Viper Club, a group completed by Jerome Etcheberry (t), Dave Kelbie (g) and Sebastien Girardot (b). 

    With its variety, the GJFL should have something for every palette. The enduring legacy of Django Reinhardt is still very much represented in the line-up – especially from top-flight Scottish violinist and singer Seonaid Aitken and her quartet, who open the festival at Crazy Coqs on 6 May. However, there is a notable focus on modern music, as well as styles of jazz which have developed alongside gypsy jazz. 

    For those interested in the full schedule, further details are available on the festival website – futurefable.com/gypsyjazz2024, or on the usual social media platforms under @gjflondon.