Few would disagree that The Savoy is one of London’s most iconic hotels. It’s been standing on Strand for 130 years. A byword for luxury, the five-star hotel isn’t just for visitors to the capital, it also has a host of dining, drinking and entertainment options for Londoners. When it comes to The Savoy’s relationship with music, it goes way back. A host of musical legends, including Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and George Gershwin have performed in the hotel, while a more contemporary act Duran Duran have shot a music video in its hallowed halls.
Today, music is still very much part of The Savoy experience. Launching this spring is a new evening entertainment series. Live At The Savoy will kick off on 24 May 2019 in the hotel’s Thames Foyer nightly.
American singer Judi Jackson is launching the series as The Savoy’s Musician in Residence. The acclaimed jazz vocalist will begin on Wednesday 24 April and three further dates. The Virginia-born performer has recently released her debut album Live In London and tours internationally. Jackson has collaborated with Warner Music’s George Moore and Michael League, member of Grammy award-winning band Snarky Puppy, and credits Wynton Marsalis and Mavis Staples among her influences.
Also performing during Live At The Savoy will be American-born and Liverpool based soul singer/songwriter Jalen N’Gonda. He was hailed as ‘a voice full of nuances and golden songs’ at the 2018 Montreux Jazz Talent Awards and opened for Motown legends Martha And The Vandellas in Liverpool in 2015.
- Live At The Savoy with Judi Jackson: 24 April, 24 May, 20 June and 25 July.
- Live At The Savoy with Jalen N’Gonda: 9 May, 16 May (and further dates).
During the entertainment, guests can feast on the new Thames Foyer evening menu, available from 7pm. It has been inspired by The Savoy’s famous 19th century chef Auguste Escoffer, who invented the Peach Melba. The menu is divided into three sections: Prolgue (7pm-8.30pm); Story (8.30pm-10.30pm) and Epilogue (conclusion). An extensive drinks list will also be on offer.
- Live At The Savoy takes place in the Thames Foyer. At The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest stations: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Tickets: £25pp with additional minimum spend on food and drinks at £20pp. Tel: 020 7420 2111 or email. For more information, visit The Savoy website.
Whether you’re a huge jazz aficionado or curious to discover more of the genre, the EFG London Jazz Festival is a good place to be. Returning to the capital on 11-20 November 2016, the 1o day festival sees a variety of gigs – both big and small – coming to over 50 venues across the city. Over 2000 international and home grown talent from a range of backgrounds will be showcasing their music.
Here’s some of the highlights of this year’s festival:
– 11 November : Takuya Kuroda & Makaya McCraven
Japanese New Yorker Takuya, a trumpet maestro and Chicago jazz star Makaya kick off the opening night of the festival with a double bill. Tickets: £20. Jazz Café, 5 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7PG. Nearest station: Camden Town.
– 12 November : Alice Zawadski & Jamie Safirudden
Critically acclaimed Anglo-Polish singer and violinist Alice and pianist Jamie play music dedicated to Joni Mitchell. 9pm. Tickets: £17.50. Live @ Zedel, Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus.
– 14 November : SFJazz Collective play Michael Jackson
All-star jazz collective featuring Miguel Zenón, David Sánchez, Sean Jones and Robin Eubanks play the hits of the King of Pop Michael Jackson. 7.30pm. Tickets: £10-£27.50. Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, Belgravia, SW1x 9DQ. Nearest station: Sloane Square.
– 15 November : YolanDa Brown
MOBO-winning saxophonist Yolanda will be performing reggae love songs with her 10-piece band and accompanied by Shingai Shoniwa of The Noisettes. 8pm. Tickets: £20-£30. Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest station: Barbican.
– 17 November : Hailey Tuck
Texan jazz singer Hayley has been named as one of Yahoo! Music’s ’25 singer-song writers under 25 to watch’. 7pm. Tickets: £20. Live @ Zedel, Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus.
– 18 – 19 November : Sarah Jane Morris & Antonio Forione
Singer Sarah Jane and virtuoso guitarist Antonio will be playing tracks from their new collaborative album Compared To What. 7pm and 9.30pm. Tickets: £24. Live @ Zedel, Crazy Coqs, 20 Sherwood Street, Soho, W1F 7ED. Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus.
– 20 November : Wayne Shorter Quartet
Revered jazz composer/songwriter Wayne Shorter and his musicians will be playing his cutting edge compositions. 7.30pm. Tickets: £15-£50. Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS. Nearest station: Barbican.
- The London Jazz Festival takes place from 11 – 20 November 2016. For more information, visit the London Jazz Festival website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in November, click here.
Headlining this summer’s London Wonderground is Scotch & Soda, a fusion of circus and jazz. The show takes place in the atmospheric Spiegeltent, which really gives a fringe festival vibe. The production features Ben Walsh and the Crusty Suitcase Band, who provide the music while Company 2’s acrobats perform death-defying feats.
At the heart of the show is The Crusty Suitcase band, who perform a sort of hillbilly jazz on a mix of traditional and quirky instruments. Company 2 is an ensemble of Australian circus artists who previously brought the hugely successful show Cantina to Wonderground in 2012. The band and acrobats have taken on characters inspired by the Australian outback and historical circus acts. While the other characters weren’t so clear to me, Mozes is suitably bizarre and eccentric as The Bush Stranger, who kick starts the laughter by flashing the audience, while whizzing around in his clog-style roller-skates.
The premise of the show is a hillybilly, Victoriana get-together over a few drinks and music with the ‘party tricks’ on a whole different level to what we’ve seen before. The tricks start on a small scale with Chelsea McGuffin walking a ‘tightrope’ made of champagne bottles, before building in size and grandeur. There were many moments during the show when I held my breath in anxiety as the performers were suspended from the trapeze or balancing precariously on a huge pile of boxes. I was awed by the strength of the acrobats as the female performers supported the weight of Mozes hanging off them on the trapeze or David Carberry carrying two acrobats on his shoulders while cycling. An interlude from the fast-paced action with a bird act was cute, but a bit underwhelming in comparison to the rest of the show.
Overall, the 70 minute show flew by thanks to musicians and circus artists, who complemented each other well and had a great sense of camaraderie that spread to the audience. The show certainly livened me up on a Friday evening after a long and tiring week at work. Whether or not you’re a circus aficionado, few couldn’t fail to be won over by Scotch & Soda’s cheeky, energetic and skilful brand of music and mastery.
- Scotch & Soda is on at London Wonderground in Jubilee Gardens until 2 August 2015. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tuesday to Sunday 7.30pm, Sunday matinees 4pm, No performances on Mondays or 14 June, 15 June, 16 June, 17 June, 14 July and 28 July. Tickets: £12.50. Suitable for ages 12+. To book phone: 0844 545 82820844 545 8282 or visit www.londonwonderground.co.uk or www.southbankcentre.co.uk.
- London Wonderground runs at Jubilee Gardens from 7 May until 27 September 2015