The history of the festival started in the 1970s, when the program of the famous Camden Festival hosted by the London Borough of Camden was expanded to include a Jazz Week. Over the following decade or more, the Camden Jazz Weeks took place at several venues, both as part of the traditional spring festival and sometimes also in autumn.
By the beginning of the 1990s, the Camden Festival had been discontinued. Although the Camden Jazz Week was still supported by the borough, it became clear that the event needed a new team and new sources of funding due to changing priorities and budgets. The London Arts Board (now Arts Council England) and the production company Serious transformed the Jazz Week into the London Jazz Festival. The inaugural edition of the re-branded event was held in 1992.
Today, the London Jazz Festival is a ten-day music festival that is held in November (in contrast to the original festival that took place in May). It’s a major international jazz event that features musicians from all over the UK and abroad, both established performers and up-and-coming artists. For some musicians, their concert at the festival becomes their first ever performance in the UK. Memorable past performances include concerts by Joe Pass, Martin Taylor, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, and Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.
Along with concerts, the program of the London Jazz Festival includes educational events such as special performances, workshops for kids and youth, talks, discussions and masterclasses featuring well-known musicians, school and family concerts, and more. The main goal of the jazz festival in London is to become a meeting point for musicians and jazz lovers and the biggest celebration of jazz in the city renowned for its cultural diversity.
Photo by Emile Holba