Swing, strings and hip-hop in nod to legends at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival

Swing, strings and hip-hop in nod to legends at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
Kurt Elling on stage during the Cork Jazz Festival at City Hall. The Grammy winner performed his ‘A Century of Heroes’ show, which pays tribute to jazz legends like Louis Armstrong, Nat ‘King’ Cole, and John Hendricks. Picture: David Keane.

Kurt Elling, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Mica Paris, and a live orchestral rendition of Dr Dre’s classic hip-hop album 2001 were some of the highlights of the 42nd Guinness Cork Jazz Festival over the weekend.

As in recent years, thefestival involved music from a wide spectrum outside of its main brief.

Cork received a cash boost of millions of euro arising out of the festival as close to 1,000 musicians from 20 countries performed across 70 venues.

Some 95% of the performances at the festival, which concludes today, are free.

Kurt Elling brought his ‘A Century of Heroes’ show to the festival at City Hall on Saturday night. The lively and engaging show saw him pay tribute to jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Nat ‘King’ Cole, John Hendricks,Shirley Horn, and Nancy Wilson.

The Grammy winner, who is a native of Chicago, signed to the prestigious label Blue Note in 1995.

Elling said his goal for the night was to draw attention back to his predecessors and to the remind everyone what fun it is to swing.

“This will be a moment for me and my audience to take a break from all the heavy stuff going on. These are singers and songs that mean a lot to me personally and they deserve to be remembered and celebrated.”

Sinead O’Connor performs a sold-out gig at the Cork Opera House during the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Picture: Clare Keogh
Sinead O’Connor performs a sold-out gig at the Cork Opera House during the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Picture: Clare Keogh

Meanwhile, the indomitable Martha and the Vandellas were the headliners at Cork City Hall tonight.

The hitmaker who says singing is a “privilege” and a “gift from God” was celebrating 60 years of Motown. She worked at the famous record label as a secretary before reaching the big time.

The other main headline act for the weekend was ‘No Strings Attached’ — A Live Orchestral Rendition of: DR. DRE: 2001’ at Cork Opera House.

Merging both traditional orchestra players with contemporary live hip-hop music, the seminal album was performed from start to finish along with some of Dre’s other West Coast classics.

Other huge acts over the weekend who fell outside the jazz brief included home-grown favourites Sinead O’Connor and Aslan who both performed at Cork Opera House.

British soul queen and platinum-selling artist Mica Paris performs at Cork City Hall. Picture: Clare Keogh
British soul queen and platinum-selling artist Mica Paris performs at Cork City Hall. Picture: Clare Keogh

Sinead said that she had “so much fun” at the gig, which she attributed to having “an amazing audience”.

Mica Paris Sings Ella Fitzgerald at The Everyman Theatre was also one of the most popular acts of theweekend.

Mica recorded the EP Mica Sings Ella as a tribute to the late artist, featuring covers of the Fitzgerald classicsincluding ‘Every Time we Say Goodbye’ and ‘Imagine my Frustration’.

The British singer was thrilled with the welcome she received Leeside, thanking the crowd for not even having to warm them up.

Aileen Leonard, Fiona Roche, Victoria Kelly and Karina Ronan at the Cork Jazz Ball for Spinal Injuries Ireland. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney
Aileen Leonard, Fiona Roche, Victoria Kelly and Karina Ronan at the Cork Jazz Ball for Spinal Injuries Ireland. Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney

The Metropole Hotel in Cork, which is the home of the festival, will have seen performances from 50 acts by the time the festival concludes.

Big-name acts include the New York Brass, Pixie & The Gypsies, NC Grey, and the Hyde Park Brass Band.

Roger Russell, general manager at the Metropole Hotel Cork, says that the hotel is truly the “heart and soul” of the Cork Jazz Festival.

“We are very proud of our association and tradition with the Jazz Festival, which is always one of the main highlights of the year in Cork.”

The festival kicked off in spectacular ‘flare’ with a red hot ‘Blaze of Jazz Parade’ through the streets of Cork City on Friday night.

The festival involves an exciting fringe programme of free gigs and on-street entertainment.

Helen Daly and Emily Connell of Cork City Samba Band bring the music to the streets. Picture: Clare Keogh
Helen Daly and Emily Connell of Cork City Samba Band bring the music to the streets. Picture: Clare Keogh

One of the most popular events was “Jazz on the Plaza” which saw live music being played on the Super Dome Jazz Stage in Emmet Place over the last three afternoons.

An artisan food market also took place in the same spot for the duration of the weekend.

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