London’s music scene has long been bursting at the seams; if you were really hardcore then you could fill every evening of the year with gigs, concerts and club nights. Then your music collection would also end up bursting at the seams. While we all know that the biggest names are to be found at the O2 (*shudder*), it’s not always obvious where we can hear a good live band. Sebastian Scotney runs the music blog LondonJazz, and has recommended five great nights of live music for those with more niche tastes in sound. Ashleigh Arnott
The Green Note, 106 Parkway, NW1 7AN
The first of these five London places where, for very little money, you can get up-close to high quality jazz is one of the best little music rooms in London. The Green Note has an eclectic music programme. I reviewed the stunning debut of the Alice Zawadzki Band there earlier this month. Future highlights will include jam sessions led by up-and-coming pianist Tom Millar and folk gigs like the Martin Carthy/Dave Swarbrick duo.
Way Out West at the Orange Tree, 45 Kew Road, Richmond, TW9 4NQ
The remainder of these secret London spots are once-a-week gigs organised by the musicians themselves. This weekly Wednesday show takes place in the basement of a pub just opposite Richmond station. Many of London’s top jazz musicians (Chris Biscoe, Tim Whitehead, Kate Williams) bring projects they are really excited by to a sympathetic listening audience.
Mondays at the Red Lion, Linkfield Rd, Isleworth, TW7 6QJ
Veteran drummer Trevor Tomkins showcases the stars of British jazz at this pub on Monday nights. It is – unbelievably for the quality- a free gig. The adrenalin of guitarist John Etheridge in full flight is unforgettable. The band assembles at the bar for an interval drink, while organisor Trevor always disappears from the fray for a quiet, crafty cigarette.
Tuesdays – East Side Jazz at the Lord Rookwood, 314 Cann Hall Road, E11 3NW
Another musician-led weekly gig where the feeling of community is very strong. Drummer Clive Fenner’s Leytonstone gig once included one of the legends of jazz – and I heard him for just £5. Trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, originally from Canada, is one of the most original and respected jazz trumpet voices in the world. He recently had a high-profile festival in New York take place in his honour and his compositions are played all over the world. But this is very much his local gig – he’s a Leytonstone local.
Sunday Jazz at the North London Tavern, 375 Kilburn High Road, NW6 7QB
The young jazz scene in London is incredibly vibrant, and this is one of the places to hear rising stars, such as saxophonist Josh Arcoleo (above). The promoter of the gig is dynamic entrepreneurial trumpeter Jack Davies, who writes a weekly column about the young London scene on the LondonJazz blog.