Youngsters from the Cork Music Generation joining the New York Brass Band to play Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ on the open-air stage in Emmet Place encapsulated an unofficial theme for this year’s Guinness Cork Jazz festival: The international musical connections the festival has built up over its 40-year history.
Bands from every corner of the world seemed to converge on Cork. A packed programme in the bars and venues citywide, as well as on the street corners, cemented the festival’s growing reputation for having moved beyond jazz to provide a feast for lovers of all genres of music.
From Japanese psychedelic rock to Jamaican jazz piano to Dutch brass bands, the city was swarming with musicians of every nationality, many repeat visitors but many newcomers too.
Friday night’s launch at The Opera House saw Skibbereen Soul Man Brian Deady and singer-songwriter Paddy Casey take to the open-air stage to serenade an audience that seemed keen to get the party started.
Cypress Avenue drew a young crowd for their Friday night offering which saw soul and hip-hop inspired Dublin singer Soulé, supported by Bad Bones, a masked DJ and producer who mixes visual elements with her atmospheric electronic offerings.
For the traditionalists, The Metropole was, as ever, the place to be, and this year the hotel payed tribute to one of its most enduring musical connections with a weekend-long Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Room.
Saxophonist Ronnie Scott, founder of the legendary London Jazz club that still bears his name, played at the very first Cork Jazz Festival in 1977.
The Everyman’s double bill of Australian singer and pianist Sarah MacKenzie and Gary Crosby’s Nu Troop sextet performing Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue was a crowd-pleaser for true jazz fans on Friday night.
Saturday’s Jazz Parade, an annual family favourite, brought a New Orleans-style carnival atmosphere to the streets as a cacophony of brass instruments filled the air. Cork bands such as the Blarney Brass and Reed Band were joined by others including Holland’s May Day Jazz Band and the Hyde Park Big Brass Band, who hail not from London, but from Leeds.
“There’s a Hyde Park in Leeds too,” their trumpet player said, grinning.
Cork’s vibrant community of swing dance enthusiasts got in on the act too, Hopping and Charlestoning their way through the streets.
Organisers estimate that 5,000 people attended the parade and associated events.
Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald and his wife Georgina danced their way through the streets with Jazz Parade Grand Marshall Ger Harvey at the head of a colourful ensemble of puppets and costumed performers created by street theatre specialists Buí Bolg, Dowtcha Puppets and Cork Community Art Link.
Mr Fitzgerald, who also helped to launch the festival, said it was a huge honour to be involved in a milestone year for one of Cork’s most iconic annual cultural events.
“We have to pay huge tribute to the founders of the festival,” he said.
“But also, the festival is a huge credit to the people of Cork and its reputation as a city with global connections. I’ve been talking to people from Australia, New Zealand, the States today, and what they’re telling me about is the warmth of Cork people and the air of celebration everywhere.”
“It’s truly a festival for everyone. There are children in buggies down here and elderly people, all just out to enjoy the music.”
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