This weekend sees the opening of the 2016 edition of the EFG London Jazz Festival. If the opening few days are anything to go by London is set for a near constant stream of jazz talent in the capital, a synthesis of warmth and quality typified by Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau.

Though billed as a duo, the ease with which their lines melt in and out of each other make this less about two musicians taking complementary lines and more an organic harmonic exploration. It is a huge amount of fun to see the two musicians come together on one stage, Josh’s physicality ranges from a wiggle with the alto through to a scratching chicken leg as his tenor lines chromatically tumble alongside Brad’s pace-setting, robust chords.

By the time Redman has lost the jacket and untucked his shirt, the  Barbican audience knows that the evening is going to be as fun and relaxed as the partnership unfolding on stage. Addressing the crowd, Josh says what a luxury it is to make music at such a trying time back home. It’s a luxury to hear, with compositions like ‘Always August’ and ‘Melancholy Mode’ setting the bar for quality and indulgence at the start of almost 2 continuous hours of unbroken music. Much of the set is from their Nonesuch album, Nearness although the fourth number is one of Brad’s compositions that is so new it doesn’t have a name. It’s also striking how much Brad sounds like Brad, the subtle chordal crunches and touch in his right hand only relenting for virtuousic solo sections in his left (and man, would I give my right hand for his left).

Just before embarking on three encores, Josh tells the adoring crowd “this is one of the great festivals — not just saying that to flatter anyone” and on a night like tonight, it’s hard to disagree.

The 2016 EFG London Jazz Festival runs 11 – 20 November in over 50 venues of varying size across London. See the full programme here.

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