The changing aesthetic of the London Jazz Festival brochure

LJF_1993_front_coverThe London Jazz Festival began in 1993, the guide to the new event a pull-out section of the magazine Jazz and a free supplement to The Observer rather than a brochure per se.  London in the 1990s was a city only just starting to come out of a fifty year post-war population decline, but by 2014, as a result of the highly successful Olympic Games in 2012 and its pre-eminence on the global financial stage,  Forbes magazine had designated London the ‘most influential city in the world’.  As the Festival has changed over the years, so too has the look and feel of the brochure, and it is also interesting to note that the way in which the Festival has used London imagery over the years, sometimes placing the city front and centre and other times focusing on jazz.

1995 mini programme1994 and 1995 foreground London rather than jazz, the famous black hackney cab appearing on both. The 1995 mini programme (produced in association with the Rough Guides as well as ORIS, BBC Radio 3 and London Arts Board) draws on London imagery, including black hackney cab, toy Routemaster bus, London A-Z, Time Out, Monopoly board (‘Go’ square), travelcard, but also a lemon and some oranges (a reference to Cockney rhyming slang for St Clements?), some buttons, and a London Records 45”. The transport theme is continued inside: the introduction is faux stamped ‘Jazz Office November 1995 London’ and the transport images appear throughout.

1997 front coverThe red and black branding of the 1990s gave a cohesion to the new festival, which foregrounds the title sponsor, Oris, rather than necessarily giving away too much information about the event from the outside, although the inside is filled with black and white images of various jazz musicians in the festival.

2001 front coe2000-2002 sees that black & white imagery move to the front cover, as these three years feature close-up photography of jazz musicians and their instruments – as finance director Ope Igbinyemi says, ‘There was a point when we had hands everywhere, a few fingers, this and that’. The 2001 brochure is also the first to feature the BBC Radio 3 logo, ‘in association with’, to indicate the relationship between the Festival and its new principal broadcast partner, which continued until 2012.

2003 front coverThe gritty, urban ‘Music From Out There, In Here’ neon signage of 2003-2005 is up next, utilising the classic symbol of industrial cities: the red brick wall. It is the first time that the Festival uses a slogan, and it is one which is particularly apt, as it encapsulates the inclusive pan-cultural vision of the Festival, one which imports music from all over the world into London, but which, read another way, reflects the way in which the Festival provides a platform for the music being made in London itself.

2007 front coverThe exuberant 2007 big-jazz-hair cover is bookended by the slightly hit and miss graphic design of 2006 and 2008. As director Claire Whitaker describes, ‘That [2007 programme image] was a landmark one. People just loved that, and I think nothing encapsulates it more than … How she looks is how I feel in a lot of our concerts; that kind of joy’.

2010 front cover

The artwork for 2009 to 2012 changes tack entirely to feature specially commissioned abstract artworks, the aim being to attract audiences who might attend art galleries but not yet jazz festivals. As Amy Pearce says, the Festival was expanding and audiences were growing and they had to think more about the design, i.e. ‘What would make somebody pick this up who isn’t a jazz fan?’ As the festival market has expanded in the new millennium, so too festivals like the London Jazz Festival have had to expand both their programming and look to attract a bigger and more diverse audience.

2015_LJF_front_coverThe sponsorship by EFG since 2013 has seen the programme style change again to reflect the Festival’s new rainbow logo, and, hot on the heels of the highly successful London 2012 Olympics, more recent years have seen London itself reinstated as a vibrant, rainbow-hued city, infused with jazz. As Amy Pearce says, ‘I think we’ve become increasingly conscious of being the London Jazz Festival and really wanting to embrace that’.  The 2015 brochure combines London imagery with the vibrancy of jazz, and includes that year’s twitter campaign hashtag, #thisismyjazz

Thus as London and its jazz festival has grown and developed, so too has the aesthetic of the brochure. As Amy Pearce, Serious’ associate director of production, says, ‘I think what I’ve become increasingly aware of is how much your front cover of the brochure defines your programme … I’ve become really aware of how the visual is really integral and the whole look and feel of the festival isn’t just a nice addition, it’s absolutely fundamental to what we’re trying to do with the programme and the Festival’s development … You want a visual that reflects the programme that you’ve created, so to me that is exciting, dynamic, it’s got depth, it’s got different areas that you can look it, it feels alive, it’s inspirational, as I hope our programme is’.

Also check out this article about the Festival’s artwork by Cog Design, who worked with the London Jazz Festival between 1994 and 2008.


Festivals as sites for discovering (and sharing) new music – Emma Webster

For Christmas this year, I was given some new CDs. So what, you may ask? The difference this year is that it’s usually my husband asking for new CDs while I stick to what’s already on my iPod (not that surprising considering that musical listening habits change throughout adulthood). This year, however, I had asked for CDs from artists I’d heard at the EFG London Jazz Festival 2015 and have been listening to them on repeat ever since. Today’s blog, then, is about festivals as sites for sharing and sharing new music with family and friends, both on- and off-site. Continue reading Festivals as sites for discovering (and sharing) new music – Emma Webster

The Streets – unexpected musical happenings on Leyton High Street – Emma Webster

The Streets is a project devised by EFG London Jazz Festival (LJF) producer, Serious, to ‘showcase the local streetscape and unlock the potential of high streets’ with the aims of spectacle, discovery, and participation. The first phase of the project started in July 2015 and consisted of a series of events across seven boroughs (Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Greenwich, Croydon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames). As Serious co-Director Claire Whitaker said to a group of students about the event: ‘The sun came out, people spent money in shops; the project was a success’. The second phase coincided with the LJF in November 2015, a deliberate ploy which allowed the organisers to take advantage of the increased number of touring musicians in the city and increased opportunities for the musicians to earn money and build an audience. Continue reading The Streets – unexpected musical happenings on Leyton High Street – Emma Webster

The Signs of Festival (cont) – Emma Webster

Walking to the Barbican Centre – one of the main EFG London Jazz Festival venues – I keep a keen eye out for signs of festival.


Outside the venue, a stone’s throw from the theatre stage door, is a grey BBC outside broadcast van. Whilst perhaps not an obvious sign of festival, it nevertheless indicates that something out of the ordinary is happening inside (the Jazz Voices concert later on will be broadcast live on Radio 3).
Continue reading The Signs of Festival (cont) – Emma Webster

Decisions decisions – choosing what to see – Emma Webster

EFG London Jazz Festival 2015 programme
EFG London Jazz Festival 2015 programme

Leafing through the EFG London Jazz Festival programme, I’m thinking about how I went about choosing what to see. A person obviously only has limited temporal and economic resources and the Festival only lasts for ten days with a number of performances happening at the same time and in different locations across the city. Fretting over my decisions also taps into the great 21st-century fear of FOMO (fear of missing out). What if one of the great jazz performances happens and I’m not there to witness it?! If only I had chosen X instead of Y!  What if Keith Jarrett does another Cologne Concert and I miss it?! This is even more of a(n admittedly pleasurable) problem when – in the lucky position I find myself in – I can get free access to many of the shows.

In the end, my decisions were made as follows: a small number of gigs were highly recommended by Serious staff, such as Seriously Talented, so they were concrete fixtures in my calendar. There were also a couple of academic events, including a talk by this project’s Principal Investigator, Professor George McKay, so they were also concrete. There were a few artists I’d really like to see so they also got added to the list (Ice-T, Submotion Orchestra and Gilles Peterson for starters). I also wanted to check out some of the educational activities, both those aimed at children and the more ‘academic’ style lectures and talks. Certain venues were also on my wishlist (the famous jazz venue, Ronnie Scott’s, for example), but I also wanted to get out and about in London to see what it was like to attend events outside the centre. Therefore my choices were based on the following primary and secondary considerations:-

1. Artist – who do I want to see and who should I see?

2. Genre – what kinds of jazz do I want to hear and what kinds of jazz should I hear?

3. Venue – where do I want to go and where should I go?

4. Educational – whose learning – mine or someone else’s?

5. Special projects such as The Streets in order to see the full extent of festival activities

Once the basics were mapped out on a spreadsheet, then logistics come into play – if I am at the Barbican on Saturday evening for 7pm, can I realistically get to Dalston, or Enfield for that matter, for a show starting at 10pm?

Thinking about my decisions helps me to understand more about an ‘ordinary’ punter may make their own decisions about who to see – those they actively choose, those which are more of an obligation, all of which limited and influenced by geographical, temporal and economic factors.