London jazz festival 2014: 10 to see

Charles Lloyd Quartet

Apartheid exiles Dedication Orchestra, the sound of the Indian streets, and three-quarters of a century for Blue Note records - our critics pick the best of this year’s London jazz festival, which begins today.

John Surman at 70


Surman first stunned listeners as a wind machine who could play Coltrane odysseys on the huge baritone sax, then entranced them as a lyrical explorer of folk-music, jazz and English choral traditions. He plays his chamber music with Trans4mation Strings (Friday 14), and his dramatic Another Sky for the powerful Bergen Big Band (Saturday 15). 14 & 15 November, Kings Place. John Fordham

Dedication Orchestra

A rare performance from the multitalented big band formed to celebrate the buoyant music of five South African exiles from apartheid who helped re-energise British jazz in the 1960s. Only one member remains, with drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo at the heart of a formidable lineup including Evan Parker, Jason Yarde, Keith Tippett and Maggie Nicols. 15 November, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre. JF

Abdullah Ibrahim

When some musicians celebrate their 80th birthdays, we turn up to applaud the vestige of a once-great player who is now way past his prime. But age has not wearied this South African pianist, AKA Dollar Brand. His latest album, The Song Is My Story, distils what he’s been doing best since the 1960s – meditative improvisations that meld township jive, American gospel, naggingly catchy melodies and a puckish sense of humour. Expect him to pick up his soprano sax occasionally, too. 15 November, Royal Festival Hall. John Lewis

Christophe Chassol

French pianist Christophe Chassol does a mean line in electric fusion, but one of his most interesting USPs is to turn random pieces of speech into musical improvisations. This Indiamore project sees him doing just that, using field recordings made in India. Films of street scenes in Calcutta and Benares are projected on a screen while Chassol and his band pick up on stray melodies – street hawkers playing coconut-shell violins, cabbies singing ragas, children reciting prayers – and use them as the basis for thrillingly funky improvisations. 16 November, Queen Elizabeth Hall. JL

Randy Weston/Billy Harper

The towering figure of Randy Weston – 6’8” and resplendent in a dashiki and a kufi hat – usually comes to London with a colourful, African-themed project such as the Gnawa Master Musicians of Morocco. However, this is a rare chance to actually hear the native New Yorker play the piano in that angular, two-fisted bop style learned (literally) at the side of Thelonious Monk. This duet with Rollins-ish saxophonist Billy Harper (ex of the Gil Evans Orchestra) traces the African roots of the blues, but Weston’s funky sensibilities – even at the age of 88 – remain undimmed. 17 November, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre. JL

Tomasz Stanko

Polish trumpeter Stanko, a European jazz hero for decades, leads one of the world’s great contemporary jazz quartets with inspired Cuban pianist David Virelles and a psychically hip New York rhythm section. Entertaining Italian piano virtuoso Stefano Bollani and Brazilian bandolim-star Hamilton de Holanda share styles, emotions and gags in support. 20 November, Barbican. JF

Dan Tepfer

Londoners will occasionally see Paris-born, New York-based pianist Tepfer accompanying the likes of Lee Konitz but – despite studying astrophysics in Edinburgh and lecturing at the Royal Academy of Music – he rarely performs solo on these shores. So this is a rare chance to catch his unique interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. He performs all 30 variations, following each with a ruminative improvisation that is bound to earn comparisons with Keith Jarrett. 20 November, Wigmore Hall. JL

Lindsay Cooper Tribute

Lindsay Cooper – who died last year after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis – was a bassoon player whose CV includes spells with some of the most interesting outfits at the nexus of prog rock, avant jazz, post-punk and the Canterbury Scene. Her serpentine improvisations and compositions graced recordings by Henry Cow, Hatfield and the North, Comus, National Health and the Mike Westbrook Big Band, as well as a string of projects with jazz and improv musicians. A cast of friends – including Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson from Henry Cow – are among the stellar cast paying tribute to her work. 21 November, Barbican. JL

Blue Note Celebration

Jason Moran’s and Robert Glasper’s piano duets can squeeze jazz history, from boogie-woogie to free-improv and hip-hop, into one rollercoaster tune. They share this stylistically diverse show – commemorating Blue Note records’ 75th birthday – with stars including crossover bassist Derrick Hodge and world-guitarist Lionel Loueke. 22 November, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. JF

Charles Lloyd/Joe Lovano/Dave Douglas

A big festival finale from two quite different sax masters – Lloyd the sorcerer of haunting world jazz, Lovano the bustling postbopper - on a double bill featuring Lloyd’s new venture influenced by Greek and Hungarian music, while Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas share creative tributes to Wayne Shorter. 23 November, Barbican. JF

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by John FordhamJohn Lewis, for theguardian.com on Thursday 13th November 2014 08.00 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010