No shortage of Irish talent at Cork’s jazz fest

The international acts get most of the attention but Alan O’Riordan says there is no shortage of home-grown talent playing on Leeside this weekend.

No shortage of Irish talent at Cork’s jazz fest

The international acts get most of the attention but Alan O’Riordan says there is no shortage of home-grown talent playing on Leeside this weekend.


Green Room, Cork Opera House

11.55 pm, Friday

It’s no exaggeration to say that Ronan Guilfoyle is one of the most influential figures in Irish jazz history.

A self-taught bassist, he came late to the classroom, but went on to be the prime mover in what was to become DCU’s degree course in jazz performance, something that has infused the Irish scene with polished, confident players.

As a composer, he has ranged widely, and brought a number of projects and ensembles to Cork. This year, it’s a long-held ambition to do something Brazilian.

Guilfoyle on bass is joined by Venezuelan piano player Leopold Osio, who’s been a real addition to the Irish scene; vocalist Aleka Potinga; Andre Antune on drums; and Chris Guilfoyle on guitar.


Green Room at Cork Opera House

10pm Saturday

Sue Rynhart is a complete original. She gave a beguiling, poetic performance at the Triskel during the 2017 jazz festival – a real highlight.

She can sound like an Irish-accented Kate Bush or Janis Joplin, but is equally at home drawing on her early music roots as she is improvising in true jazz style.

Double bassist Dan Bodwell, with whom she has recorded a new album, provides the accompaniment for what will be an exquisite show by one of the country’s most compelling talents.


Green Room, Cork Opera House

11.55 pm, Saturday

Guitarist Chris Guilfoyle’s four piece has emerged as one of the leading young groups in Ireland. Cork trombonist Paul Dunlea, who is programming the Green Room strand for the Opera House, said theirs was one of the hits of last year.

“They went down a bomb,” he says. “I was delighted to get them back.”

Guilfoyle’s crew defy categorisation, except to say they exemplify what has become the magpie aesthetic of European jazz, drawing influences from the worlds of free jazz, math metal, and electronica. Sure to deliver a raucous round-midnight set.


Festival Club, Metropole Hotel

9.30pm, Saturday

Time was when the Festival Club at the Metropole would have little gems of gigs around every corner. It’s more about partying than listening these days, but you will find Darren Beckett, right, in there this year.

Beckett is a formidable player, with a backcatalogue that include work with Lee Konitz, Mark Turner, his own indie band Ambulance LTD, Lauryn Hill, and Brandon Flowers of The Killers.

The Belfast drummer is bringing an excellent trio to the Metropole.



7pm, Sunday

The Belfast trumpeter Linley Hamilton headlines at the Everyman, the only Irish jazz artist to enjoy a headline bill, which he’s sharing with top American pianist Fred Hersch.

Hamilton has forged new paths in Irish jazz.

Linley Hamilton
Linley Hamilton

His excellent album of last year, Making Other Arrangements, is a landmark achievement in Irish recording, gathering together an unprecedented 20-strong roster of musicians for some sumptuous arrangements.

For Cork, Hamilton brings his quintet, so expect to bop and swing.


Green Room at Cork Opera House

10pm, Sunday

Trombonist Dunlea takes the stage for the late show the same night, with The Bones of Cork.

Paul Dunlea
Paul Dunlea

“It’s basically a miniature big band that one,” he says, “with five trombones and a rhythm section. Big and loud with five big personalities from Cork who are all working sessions musicians all over the world.”

As a contrast to that, Dunlea says, the trio with pianist McCarthy and Quigley on trumpet, “will be a bit more relaxed” as they play a mixture of standards and originals.

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