Gypsy Jazz Festival of London (6-12 May 2024)

After the resounding success of its inaugural event in 2022 and a triumphant follow-up in 2023, the Gypsy Jazz Festival of London is set to make its much-anticipated return this spring. With seven nights of performances from May 6th to May 12th, music enthusiasts across the capital are invited to immerse themselves in the infectious rhythms and timeless melodies of the too often overlooked genre.

Supported once again by a generous grant from Arts Council England, GJFL is the brainchild of violinist and producer Tobie Medland and takes place this year at The Vortex Jazz ClubLSO St LukesThe Jago DalstonPizza Express Live ChelseaWorld Heartbeat Auditorium, Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club, and Crazy Coq’s Soho with a line-up of internationally renowned musicians representing the finest the genre has to offer.

Celebrated violinist/vocalist Seonaid Aitken opens the festival on May 6th with her Scottish Jazz Award winning quartet Rose Room, sharing their love for Swing and the famous Reinhardt/Grappelli sound with audiences at Crazy Coq’s, Soho.

Considered by many to be the greatest performer of the style since Django Reinhardt himself, guitarist Stochelo Rosenberg will be sharing the LSO St. Luke’s stage on Saturday the 11th with his long-time collaborator Paulus Schäfer and his quartet.

Known for his duo recordings and performances Gypsy Jazz guitar legend Bireli Lagrene, as well as international titans of music Steve Gadd and Richard Bona, French guitarist Sylvain Luc and his trio are set to deliver an intimate show at the Vortex Jazz Club on Thursday the 9th.

Closing out the festival on May 12th at Pizza Express Live The Pheasantry in Chelsea is the Adrien Moignard/Daniel John Martin Quartet, featuring four of the world’s highest acclaimed Gypsy Jazz musicians, promising an evening of unparalleled virtuosity and creative flair.

Commenting on this year’s festival, organiser and violinist Tobie Medland remarked, “The Gypsy Jazz Festival of London celebrates the enduring legacy and vibrant evolution of Gypsy Jazz. We are thrilled to present such an exceptional lineup of musicians who continue to push the boundaries of this beloved genre.”

Gypsy jazz may have been born in Paris back in the 1930s with artists like Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli, but its high energy, sophisticated style and virtuosic demands has kept its popularity with audiences and musicians alike. 

As jazz fans around the world know all too well, the much talked-about London scene is in rude health. GJFL aims not just to entertain those existing converts of the style, but to show the wider community how gypsy jazz is still evolving and sounding fresh a century later.

A Note The Term “Gypsy Jazz”

Some of our fellow creatures may worry that the word Gypsy is a slur. Though the word has its origins in a mishearing, was and is used occasionally as a slur (as well as a crass instagram adjective), and the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities continue to suffer persecution in many forms and in many places, context is everything. 

In this context, Gypsy is not a slur. It is the term preferred by the Sinti people of Central Europe for Gadji and non-Romanes speaking people to use. This is mainly because it avoids confusion, particularly with regards to misnaming diverse groups of people – Sinti are not Roma, for example, though both are Romani.

It’s complicated,  possibly imperfect but we’re always ready should the weather change.

Full schedule

Monday 6th May Crazy Coq’s, Soho, –  Seonaid Aitken’s ‘Rose Room’ 

“The hottest ticket in Scotland right now!” – JAZZ SCOTLAND

“Classy, very accomplished” - THE HERALD

“As close to the sound of the great Stephane Grappelli as I think you’re going to hear in Scotland” – BBC RADIO SCOTLAND

“Rose Room swing harder than an elm tree in a force nine English gale…” - SHETLAND NEWS

Scottish Jazz Award-winners Rose Room has become one of Scotland’s leading ensembles influenced by the Gypsy Jazz genre.

Sharing a love of Swing music and the style of the great Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, their “vigorous and vivacious” performances go “down a storm” with any audience as they serve up their 1930s ‘Hot Club’ standards, Gypsy Jazz favourites and self-penned originals with virtuosity, verve and panache recreating the excitement of Rive Gauche Paris.

Based in Glasgow, the quartet is fronted by award-winning violinist and “sophisticated songstress” Seonaid Aitken, who was voted Scottish Jazz Awards ‘Best Vocalist’ in 2017 & 2018 and also played with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Tim Kliphuis Sextet and is the presenter of BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Jazz Nights’. Scotland’s No.1 guitar maker, Jimmy Moon of ‘Moon Guitars’, features on double bass with Celtic Connections’ Danny Kyle Award-winners ‘Swing Guitars’ Tam Gallagher and Tom Watson on rhythm and solo guitars, respectively.

With three albums recorded to date – ‘The High Life’ (2015), ‘Am I Blue’ (2013) and ‘Somewhere In Roseland’ (2011) – Rose Room has headlined at all of the major Scottish jazz festivals, appeared at the celebrated Shetland Folk Festival, and toured Ireland performing at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Their collaboration with top Scottish saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski and ‘string quartet to the stars’, the Capella String Quartet, led to the formation of ‘Rose Room Orchestra Fantastique’ – a 9-piece ensemble which celebrates the vintage sound of the 1930s.

Rose Room were delighted to have been voted ‘Best Band’ in the Scottish Jazz Awards 2018, having been finalists in the previous two Scottish Jazz Awards, and are frequently played on BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘The Jazz House’ and Jazz FM. They have performed with world-famous virtuoso jazz guitarist Martin Taylor, German Gypsy Jazz star Joscho Stephan and they are involved in teaching and fundraising for The Clutha Trust charity. Two of Rose Room’s tracks are also featured on The Clutha Sessions charity CD.

Tuesday 7th Lautrec Jazz Club, Kennington – John Wheatcroft Trio Toulouse 

“Varied and beautiful, Ensemble Futur is a delight the ears (*****)” – Guitar Techniques Magazine

“that wonderful thing, […] a series of virtuoso performances but it’s all about the vibe and the whole” – Ed O’Brien (Radiohead)

“As a guitarist, [John] possesses extraordinary virtuosity.” – International Guitar Foundation

John Wheatcroft leads a busy double-life as an artist and an educator. He has performed with artists as diverse as Billy Cobham (Miles Davis), Alex Acuña, John Williams, Frank Gambale (Chick Corea), Paco Peña, Biréli Lagrène, Stochelo Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre, Paulus Schäfer, Mozes Rosenberg, Mike Clark and Bill Summers (The Headhunters), Carl Verheyen (Supertramp), Ralph Salmins, Paul Elliott, Keith Carlock and Laurence Cottle. John has toured the world with both Carl Palmer (ELP) and John Jorgenson (Elton John/ Hellecasters) and he is a regular contributor to Guitar Techniques UK, along with contributing numerous lessons for Guitarist UK, Guitar Part (France) and Guitar World (USA).

The impressive roster of top names John has played with is a testament to his impeccable technique, imaginative solos and advanced knowledge in a variety of genres. John writes and performs enchanting music which seamlessly integrates the sound and approach of modern jazz with the timeless Franco-American swing of the legendary Django Reinhardt, producing a sound that is both rooted in the traditions of the genre and vital, forward thinking and highly original.

Wednesday 8th Pizza Express Live The Pheasantry, Chelsea – Gismo Graf Trio + Matt Holborn/Kallai Janos Trio 

Gismo is definitely in the top league of the guitarists.” – Akustik Gitarre

“Every concert is a highlight” – Stuttgarter Wochenblatt

Gismo Graf, one of the fastest rising stars of Gypsy Jazz, brings his stellar German trio to perform at the annual ‘Gypsy Jazz Festival of London’. Over the last few years Gismo has seen a meteoric rise in notoriety  and has been regularly touring across the world to play at top clubs and jazz festivals. Notable appearances include at the world famous ‘Festival Django Reinhardt’ in France, Porgy and Bess Vienna and Stockholm Jazz Festival. Gismo also regularly plays with some of the worlds most respected jazz musicians, including Stochelo Rosenberg and Tim Kliphuis.

Gismo’s trio is made up of his father and mentor Joschi Graf on Rhythm Guitar. Joschi provides a masterful accompaniment, and a rock solid ‘La Pompe’ (the name of the Rhythmic style employed in Gypsy Jazz.) Joel Locher is on Double Bass. Together they have released several albums. 

Supporting Gismo and his trio is local violin legend Matt Holborn in trio with virtuosic cymbalom player Kallai Janos. They perform exquisite, colourful, authentic Eastern European traditional music, and swing.

Thursday 9th Vortex Jazz Club, Dalston – Sylvain Luc Trio 

Friday 10th World Heartbeat Auditorium, Nine Elms/Battersea – Tcha Limberger’s ‘Viper Club’ 

Dangerously thrilling music” – Jazz Lives US

As good as it gets when it comes to music that swings” – Bebop Spoken Here

Award-winning multi-instrumentalist Tcha Limberger is highly acclaimed on the global stage. He is one of the prominent figures of folk music of the Carpathian basin and is one of the world’s best known jazz violinists. Projects including Transylvanian Kolataszeg Trio, Budapest Gypsy Orchestra and Les Violons de Bruxells have propelled him into notoriety, with critics noting his nurturing approach to teaching almost forgotten traditional musics. 

Here he performs with the exalted quartet ‘Viper Club’, that features Jerome Etcheberry trumpet, Dave Kelbie rhythm guitar, and Sebastien Girardot double bass

Jerome Etcheberry is arguably Europe’s most exalted trumpeter. Whilst his style naturally resembles Louis Armstrong, and he has released a widely celebrated homage to Armstrong, ‘Satchmocracy’, Jerome stamps his mark of excellence on every project he plays on, with his customary exquisite tone, timing, and energy. 

It’s hard to imagine a drumless ensemble without Dave Kelbie and Sebastian Girardot completing the musical circle. This highly respected rhythm section has performed with numerous projects on main stages of festivals across the globe. Not least Django a la Creole and Don Vappie & Jazz Creole. Lauded universally for their flexibility & variety of swing and the solidity of their accompaniment, Tcha’s description of this long-standing and proven bi-nome seems even more appropriate in this setting: “The Rolls Royce of Rhythm Sections”. 

Saturday 11th LSO St. Lukes, Old Street – Stochelo Rosenberg/Paulus Schafer Quartet + Karen Street’s ‘L’Espirit du Jazz’

Many consider Stochelo Rosenberg to be the greatest performer of the jazz stye affectionately known as ‘Gypsy Jazz’ since Django Reinhardt himself. Since his internatonal breakthrough in the 1980’s he has performed at every major jazz festival, including North Sea Jazz Festival, Jazz in Marciac and Jazz a Vienne. He has also featured at New York’s Carnegie Hall and The Rose Bowl in Los Angeles. Stochelo’s impressive performance credits have seen him on stage with iconic musicians including Stephane Grapelli, Toots Thielmans, Shirley Bassey, Luciano Pavaroti and Randy Crawford. 

Tonight, Stochelo performs with long-time collaborator Paulus Schäfer. Paulus is a renowned member of the Gypsy Jazz scene. He has headlined festivals across the world and has performed with top names including Bireli Lagrene, Al Di Miola and Tim Kliphuis. Paulus has also released several recordings and is considered one of the finest technicians in the world. 

Stochelo and Paulus, both members of the Dutch Sinti community, are joined by acclaimed local violinist and bassist Tobie Medland and Simon Read. Supportig tonight’s concert are accordionist Karen Street’s ‘L’Espirit du Jazz’. The quartet features Sam Dunn (guitar), Charlie Pyne (bass) and Katie Patterson (drums). Representing four accomplished and prolific members of the British jazz scene, they perform an eclectic selection of original compositions and standards inspired by French Swing, Latin Jazz and Tango.

Sunday 12th Adrien Moignard/Daniel John Martin Quartet Pizza Express Live The Pheasantry, Chelsea

Featuring four of the worlds highest acclaimed Gypsy Jazz musicians, Adrien and Daniel lead a heavyweight quartet featuring Julien Cattiaux on Rhythm Guitar and John Wheatcroft on Double Bass. Adrien Moignard, sideman to Cyrille Aimee and member of the Selmer 607 collective, is undoubtedly one of the worlds most sought-after Gypsy Jazz guitarists. His incredibly dexterity and creative flair have landed him performances at all of the top French jazz clubs, many of the New York clubs, as well as festivals across the world. 

Anglo-French violinist and vocalist Daniel John Martin is a central figure on the global scene and was a pioneering musician in the Parisian swing revival. Daniel has worked alongside many of the greats, including Angelo Debarre, Romane and Boulou Ferré. Daniel studied at the famous Paris Conservatoire, and toured and recorded with the late great Didier Lockwood. He has released several successful albums, most recently “Rendez-Vous” with friend and collaborator Romane. Daniel regularly tours the UK and has played at Pizza Express Dean Street, Swansea Jazz Festival and Preston Jazz Festival.