London Jazz Festival comes to Amersham Arms

Lewisham’s Amersham Arms played host to some the world’s finest musicians as the EDF London Jazz Festival came to town this week.

Tuesday evening saw Sam Bullard’s People & Places play “Cockermouth Girls” to an audience made up of a mélange of south London locals – both young and old; jazz diehards and the merely curious.

The evening, produced in conjunction with the SECollective, a local group of jazz musicians who play weekly at the Amerhsam, kicked off south London’s three-day version of the citywide jazz festival.

“This ensemble is an opportunity for me to explore people and places in my life that have had an effect on me and to do that in a musical way,” said Bullard in an interview before the show.

“I like snapshots in life.”

Sam Bullard's People and Places. Pic: Kamal Badhey

Sam Bullard’s People and Places. Pic: Kamal Badhey

The double-billed evening ended with a second SECollective-associated group, Art Lea’s Wandering Stories Quartet.

The ensemble belted out blues-influenced tunes inspired by Lea’s travels in the southern United States. In “I Wonder where He Goes”, Lea sang a melancholy paean to travel, followed by a more upbeat song dedicated to “the possibility of being lonely.”

Although the SECollective’s popularity has grown since its inception, Lea said music fans simply don’t know enough about what’s available in their local area.

“I think part of the [difficulty in running the gig] is that people don’t know what it’s all about yet, so they don’t want to jump in,” he said.

“You know, they come into a pub, and they’re thinking, ‘Oh what’s going on in that back room?’ You don’t necessarily go, ‘Yeah, I’ll come check that out.’”

Arthur Lea's Wandering Stories. Pic: Kamal Badhey

Arthur Lea’s Wandering Stories. Pic: Kamal Badhey

As word got out after the previous evening’s revelry, ELL sent its video-team along on Wednesday for another serving of smooth sounds.

Dice Factory and Acrobat took to the stage as the punters settled in for the night.

Delighted audience member Chazz said: “The festival in general is an absolutely great experience.”

Describing the talent on show as “exceptional”, he added: “If you don’t go along to these venues you will never appreciate pure jazz.”

Acrobat added saxophone player Tom Challenger to their usual trio for the evening, bringing an extra dimension to their lively performance.

The band’s organist, Will Bartlett, was happy with how the band’s performance was received: “The crowd were excellent tonight.”

Guitarist, Kristian Borring, highlighted the importance of the festival for London jazz performers: “The London Jazz Festival is a time when more people come out, so it’s important to be out and show yourself.”

Local jazz fans who may have missed out can catch the SECollective every Tuesday evening at the Amersham Arms. To find out more, visit the SECollective’s website

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