TENS OF thousands of jazz fans blew into Cork city yesterday as the 31st Guinness Jazz Festival roared into action.
With roads into the city bumper to bumper and public transport packed to capacity, any suggestion that the economic slowdown would sound a bum note were well and truly dispelled.
Rory Sheridan, Guinness Jazz manager, said ticket sales had gone “very well” and there were only limited numbers left for the big gigs.
He encouraged those who were not attending the main events to get out and experience the free music in pubs and venues across the city.
“90% of the music is free and there is so much going on,” he said.
Packed with the biggest names in the jazz world, including legends such as Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, The Yellowjackets, Lee Konitz, David Murray, Richard Galliano, Gilad Atzmon, Alvin Queen and Cedar Walton, the festival is expected to attract more than 40,000 music fans to Cork, and inject in excess of €25 million into the local economy.
A major attraction is the double bill of Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball, whose bands will play back to back at the Cork Opera House tonight.
Bilk (clarinet/vocals) is one of Britain’s most popular jazz stars, thrilling audiences for 50 years with classics such as Stranger on the Shore, while Kenny Ball has led one of the world’s most successful jazz bands, and scored hits with songs such as Midnight In Moscow and Samantha.
Sunday night’s highlight is the Paco Pena Flamenco Dance Company, also at the Opera House.
The show, A Compás! !with singers, dancers and musicians, will delve into the origins of flamenco and explore its Arabic, gypsy and folk elements.
As usual, there is a strong Irish presence with Louis Stewart, Honor Heffernan, Don Baker and Zrazy heading up the list of Irish performers.
And while the sun put in a rare appearance for the opening day of the festival, the weekend’s forecast may leave revellers blue with the promise of wind and rain.
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