Guinness already thirsting for Jazz Festival 2007

GUINNESS confirmed last night they will sponsor next year’s Cork jazz festival after a bumper event over the weekend.

As the festival drew to a close last night, Guinness said early indications were that attendance figures were up 10% on last year with an estimated 40,000 people flocking to the city for three days of top-class jazz.

With more than 1,000 musicians from 30 countries performing at more than 80 venues across the city, the event generated an estimated €25 million for the city.

Guinness, however, quashed rumours they have committed to the festival for the next five years.

Festival manager Rory Sheridan said the company reviews its involvement in the event on a yearly basis.

“From an artistic perspective, the quality of acts we had this year was equally high compared to last year’s festival,” he said.

The company was concerned last year’s event, one of the highlights of Cork 2005, could have overshadowed this year’s event.

But Mr Sheridan said he was delighted with this year’s attendance.

“We had more sold out shows that we’ve had before and more shows sold out earlier this year,” he said.

Sax legend Branford Marsalis, the former musical director for Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, sold out three weeks in advance.

“We don’t have the final figures just yet but preliminary figures suggest we’re up 10% on last year,” Mr Sheridan said.

Guinness’s biggest sponsorship is its two-year €2.5m deal with the GAA.

The company ploughs over €1m into the jazz festival.

Highlights of this year’s festival included Marsalis’s show, the Harlem Gospel Choir at the Opera House on Friday night, Courtney Pine and the Benny Golson All Stars at the Everyman, and what is widely regarded as the last Irish performance by legendary jazz vocalist, Jimmy Scott.

The 80-plus-year-old performed for 50 minutes to a full house in the Everyman on Sunday night.

He was escorted to a chair on stage by his wife and took regular breaks during which his band took over. He got two or three standing ovations when the curtain came down.

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