With gigs and events happening throughout the Jazz Weekend, Mike McGrath-Bryan takes a look at the highlights
THE Cork Jazz Weekend offers much for music fans of all stripes, with this year being no exception. While some of the highlights for more eclectic tastes are part of the Music Trail, recapped elsewhere in this week’s Downtown, the main festival billing and other big events provide a variety of sound to be taken in.
Tonight marks the official kickoff of Jazz Festival proceedings, and Coughlan’s on Douglas Street leads with the launch of Ian Whitty and the Exchange’s new album. Whitty has long dealt in a whip-smart, honest take on the singer-songwriter oeuvre, a situation certain not to change with the Exchange’s first album in eight years, Cash Crop, releasing on the night.
Meanwhile, over at Fredz, as part of the Music Trail, US post-hardcore outfit Animal Lover tear into their noisy, angular, groovy stuff while touring Ireland, with Dublin noisemakers Vatican II and Cork hardcore lads Horse in tow. Crane Lane also kicks things off right, with Bow St. Sessions gigs sponsored by Hot Press. Folk trio Wyvern Lingo and Belfast dream-poppers Pleasure Beach co-headline a (sold-out) early evening show that promises to be a highlight.
TomorrowFriday sees the Jazz kick off in earnest around the city, as the post-work crowd spills in to join those who have travelled to be part of it for the October bank holiday weekend.
Over in the relative peace of St Luke’s, Cathy Davey plays a rare intimate set in the church as part of The Good Room’s Jazz offering, supporting new long-player New Forest.
On Barrack Street, Bar Pigalle plays host to Cork hip-hop dons Cuttin’ Heads Collective, for those looking for some beats with their jazz. Back in town, the TDC venue at the Triskel presents Jim White (drummer of Dirty Three) with Cretan lute-player George Xylouris in a collaborative performance, with Waterford’s Katie Kim in support.
The Green Room at Cork Opera House, curated by Cork promoters Southern Hospitality Board, also kicks off on Fridaytomorrow, with a Leeside appearance by much-fancied Maynooth/Sierra Leonean neo-soul singer Loah, who brings with her a folkish take on the genre she calls ArtSoul, before Cork electronic veteran Colm K gets into it for the night.
Over at the Everyman, the Justin Kauflin Trio performs as part of a festival opening night double bill.
For those of you looking for more beats and pieces, Cyprus Avenue’s late slot plays host to UK techno legend Ben Sims, with support from debuting Cork duo Flexure.
Saturday sees the jazz kick off from early in the morning in venues, spaces and buses (!) around the city, with plenty more from various hot jazz outfits roaming the streets throughout the day.
Early in the evening, The Green Room serves up more Irish talent in a show from Dublin hip-hoppers Word Up Collective, showcasing three of their acts in Katie Laffan, Super Silly and NC Grey.
Ham Sandwich, whose last LP topped the Irish album charts independently earlier this year, drop in to St Luke’s, while more hardened jazz cats will be headed for the Everyman for a double bill of Hammond organ legend James Taylor QT and Grammy-nominated jazz/hip-hop fusionists, the Robert Glasper Experiment.
Upstairs in Fredz, the heft continues apace, with a headline set from Galway doom-metal outfit Harvester, fresh off the release of their second long-player, with Scotsmen Dvne and fellow Tribesmen Third Island in tow.
The Kino on Washington Street plays host to a last-minute BYOB session, with hip-hop, jungle and afrobeat from Jonezy, Chris Power and T-Woc.
Cyprus Avenue’s late slot continues to supply electronic heads with more of the good stuff, with a full audiovisual show from Kormac, and support from Galway trad/beats man Daithí.
Afternoon headline shows kick off the Sunday, with the Everyman Palace presenting a double dose of jazz royalty in Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet and Dick Oatts Allstars, while Triskel Christchurch presents a set from Hot Club of Cowtown, bringing an Americana-laden slant to the jazz oeuvre.
Later that evening on the Green Room stage at the Opera House, folk experimentalists The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock present a reprisal performance of their long-form piece, Lockout. Based on the 1913 Strike and Lockout, it sees the band recruit an 11-piece guitar orchestra among other contemporary instrumentation.
A similar piece on the Rising, Bullet in the Brick, releases on 12” next month via Japanese label Transduction. Support is provided by Cork psych-rockers Fixity, after recently launching their fourth long-player since June.
Later in the night, the Emil Nerstrand Trio provide a Blue Note jazz experience for loyal label fans.
Two Cork acts grab centre-stage on Saturday night, in a pair of gigs presented by the Good Room. Over at St Luke’s, the West Cork Ukulele Orchestra tune up for one of their trademark performances, the nine-piece ensemble going through the pop, jazz and Cork contemporary songbooks in inimitable fashion.
Meanwhile, at the Opera House, it is the biggest gig of Cork soulman Brian Deady’s career, one that years of local appearances, airplay and hard work have all been leading to.
One might think that Monday would serve as a means of winding down, and normally that would be the case, but the conclusion of the Jazz Festival this year coincides with the witching hour, with Halloween club nights, DJ sets, gigs and fancy-dress events abounding about town.
Foremost among them is the awakening and procession of the Dragon of Shandon. In its fifth year, Cork Community Art Link invokes the skeletal guardian of the northside to rise from slumber and set light to the night, bringing with him ghosts, goblins and other portents of the otherworldly, set to music from doomed troubadours hand-picked by the Dragon from the ranks of Ten Past Seven and Rest, to accompany him as he surveys his territory.
For those looking to steer clear of spooky doings, folk legend Loudon Wainwright performs one of the last gigs of his tour this year at the Opera House on Monday night, while over at Coughlan’s, a heroine of Americana graces the stage in Sara Watkins, singer/fiddler and a founder member of Nickel Creek and an accomplished session musician in her own right, numbering live percussion with the Decemberists, among other credits.It’s packed to say the least, and this guide is only the tip of the iceberg – it might make for a busy weekend of criss-crossing the city, but it only happens once a year.
Annual Pub Trail is musical backbone of Jazz Weekend
THE backbone of the Jazz Weekend is the traditional Pub Trail, an institution since the festival’s early days that brings music to pubs all over the city and suburbs and invests the city with the eclectic magic of the festival. This year is no different, and amid all the jazz standards and well-loved favourites being given their annual airing is a hotch-potch of sounds (and noises) to be taken in, writes Mike McGrath-Bryan.
Metal stronghold Fred Zeppelin’s has traditionally been the home of all manner of non-jazz festivities, including the late Jazz Funeral. On Thursday night
Tonight, American metallers Animal Lover take to the stage, with support from Dubliners Vatican II and Cork hardcore lads Horse.
Friday Tomorrow night sees a showcase of the Cork rock scene with a selection of bands, while on Saturday night, Galway doom-metallers Harvester level the place, alongside UK metallers Dvne and guests.
The Pigalle bar on Barrack Street is the place to be for fans of boom-bap beats tomorrowon Friday night, as Cork-based hip-hop outfit The Cuttin’ Heads Collective present a club night of left-field genre classics and jazz-inspired cuts courtesy of the group’s resident DJs.
Saturday night plays host to the latest in the bar’s Groove Me series of nights, featuring disc jockey Enda Gallagher of Galway club night Epoch, spinning jazz, hip-hop, afro and reggae into the wee hours. Sunday night also sees Cork-resident jazz saxophonist Gary Baus do his thing.
Preachers, a bar better known for a well-studied rock ’n’ roll aesthetic than any substantial amounts of live rock action, plays host to a heap of young talent over the course of proceedings.
On Friday Tomorrow night, Cork School of Music grad Laoise Leahy and her trio take the evening slot, before singer-songwriter and YouTuber Cian Ducrot and friends play the night out with an acoustic set.
Saturday night kicks off with singer Kala Chung and band, before infamous young blues buskers Crojayn deliver one of the white-hot performances that’s seen them go from the streets to the stages of Cork.
While the Pub Trail plays host to a wide range of cover outfits, tributes and other excursions, the honours have to go to the River Lee Hotel for an extensive, all-day bill across the weekend of brass, hot jazz and funk.
The festival’s travelling jazz bands set up at the hotel for proceedings, with the OhnO! Jazzband, Lamarotte Jazz Band, and MayDay Jazz Band playing alongside Souldriven, The Art Crimes Band, and the Papa Zitas.
The entire list of bands and artists playing throughout the weekend is fully browsable at guinnessjazzfestival.com.
Kinsale Fringe hits right note with jazz, blues and bossa
WITH over 100 events in 20 venues across Kinsale, the Jazz Weekend is as much a part of the cultural make-up of the picturesque coastal town as it is of the city, writes Mike McGrath-Bryan.
A more sedate affair, befitting the pace of life in Kinsale, the festival has its own highlights and headliners. Appearing at the top of the bill in a once-off appearance are French street-marchers The French Connection, taking to the streets of the town on Saturday afternoon. Roaming the town as wandering troubadours from 2pm to 4pm, the band aim to shock and surprise, popping up in locations all over the town over the course of a fun afternoon.
Also appearing in Kinsale, coming in from the city’s plethora of events, is Chicagoan Lila Ammons, who’s been busy winning over fans of blues, jazz and bossa, performing all over the American Midwest and at Europe’s biggest jazz festivals. Ammons will be accompanied by jazz hero Billy Crosbie at the Trident Hotel on Friday, October 28tomorrow from 5pm to 7pm.
She then proceeds to gig around various Kinsale venues with Crosbie in tow tomorrow night and Saturday.
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming Lila Ammons and the French Connection to Kinsale, as we know there is an appetite for jazz and blues and the Jazz Weekend remains a popular date in the Kinsale calendar,” said Jack McGouran, Kinsale Jazz musical director.
The rest of the billing is no slouch either, not the least for several appearances from Cork jazz legend and session veteran Crosbie outside of his stint with Ammons — he’ll be found across the town’s venues providing blasts from the Great American Songbook in various outfits, before closing proceedings on Monday afternoon at the Trident Hotel with a special tribute to Nat King Cole.
Bolstering proceedings at venues around town are chart-topping trad group Natural Gas; session bassist Jerome Rimson, best known for working with Phil Lynott and Van Morrison among others, with his Bad Boy Blues Band; east Cork cover veterans Sons of Steve McQueen; Chris Hayward and the Gary Potter Trio, fresh from appearances at the Cork Jazz Festival Club; and Cork’s own hard-jiving swing outfit The Roaring Forties, among many others.
With something for everyoneto be found among myriad gigs and events, Kinsale Fringe Jazz Festival looks set to continue as a calendar event for music lovers in the area.
The full programme of jazz proceedings can be found at kinsale.ie.