Korea Moves at the London Jazz Festival


St James Church in Piccadilly was transformed into a jazz venue with great acoustics on the 14th of November.

The London Jazz Festival is the capital’s biggest pan-city music festival, taking place annually in November. The Festival has long been acclaimed for showcasing a heady mix of talent from around the world.

The 14th saw the meeting of east and west with Tim Garland presenting some truly great Korean musicians from the Jarasum festival in Korea. The festival is the largest jazz festival attracting over 300,000 people (mostly under 30) which is no mean feat. It seems Jazz has become regulated to older audiences from specific audiences but as Tim Garland mentioned it was great to see so many young people enjoying the music.

The Korean Artists are Aram Lee on Daegum, Heo Yoon-Jeong on Geomungo and Jean Oh on guitar.

Prior to their performance the audience was treated to a wonderful concert by Swiss pianist Christoph Steifel’s trio performing songs from the Live album released on Basho Records.

Garland mentioned that he met the trio of performers from his visit to the festival and the team of performers formed a great bond of friendship and performed together.

Traditional Korean music has a certain sense of peacefulness about it with a ritualistic sound; Garland alluded to the fact that the compositions involving the traditional instruments had a certain shamanistic sound about them. The old (traditional instruments) was paired with the new with Jean Oh’s electric guitar.

In some of the songs we saw the instruments heralded a peaceful beginning and as the other instruments joined in things seemed to build up to a wonderful crescendo.

My favourite song was the final one called Constantly; this was composed by Aram Lee and arranged by Tim Garland. The piece focused on the globe trotting nature of the current world we live, also it shows how they have been able and blessed to ravel around the world playing music.

The piece started off peacefully and slowly with the Daegum bringing a restful melody but it soon built up to a crescendo of music with the saxophone. The Geomungo brought the peace back again whilst the electric guitar had an other worldly sound.

The song allowed for each member of the team to showcase their instrument and their skills with solos. They came together at the end to produce a truly beautiful sound that had me smiling from ear to ear.

This meeting of East and West was magnificent and left me wanting to hear more.

For me, despite cultural differences music allows us all to be one and share in a simple pleasure. It was the perfect evening with the church providing great acoustics.

My initial fears of how this combination would sound melted away as soon as the first track started and it was truly a heavenly performance.

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