Blur frontman set to open Cork Jazz Festival weekend

BLUR frontman Damon Albarn is set to open the world-famous Guinness Cork Jazz Festival this October.

Other headline performers include Kyle Eastwood, son of the legendary filmmaker Clint, and jazz fusion superstar Jean-Luc Ponty, who has played with Frank Zappa and Elton John.

Festival organisers confirmed last night they have pulled off a major coup by landing Albarn, the man behind Gorillaz.

He will be appearing onstage for the festival’s curtain-raiser in the Savoy Theatre along with 27 other musicians.

The eclectic outfit will appear together as ‘An Honest Jon’s Chop Up’ — the name of Albarn’s diverse world music record label.

Also in the collective is Flea, the energetic bassist from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tony Allen, Nigerian drumming legend and one of the founders of afrobeat during his time as a member of Fela Kuti’s band in the late ’60s and ’70s and Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, the finest urban brass band in the world.

Albarn has only performed with the collective three times.

Among the other influential musicians appearing on stage will be Kokanko Sato, Theo Parrish, Shangaan Electro and possibly Erykah Badu.

The Savoy will also play host to acclaimed British rapper Roots Manuva over the course of the bank holiday weekend, delivering an impressive line-up for the venue.

The Everyman Palace is the long-established venue for much of the more traditional jazz heavyweights and 2011 is no different.

Jazz supergroup the Randy Brecker and Bill Evans Soulbop Band are multiple Grammy Award winners who play a mix of jazz, rock and funk. They appear on a double bill alongside the Kyle Eastwood Quintet.

Jazz fusion superstar Jean-Luc Ponty, will appear in Cork for the first time during the festival. Joining him will be returning favourite Richard Galliano. The French accordionist will be performing with a new star-studded group, The La Strada Quintet, who will perform soundtrack pieces from movies like The Godfather and La Dolce Vita.

Also gracing the Everyman over the weekend will be saxophonist Tia Fuller, who is best known for being a member of the all-female band that toured the world with R’n‘B superstar Beyoncé in 2007. Fuller will appear in Cork with her own quartet.

The recently renovated Triskel Christchurch will return as a venue for the Jazz Festival this year with performances from The Bobby Watson All-Stars and guitarist Stanley Jordan, playing in Ireland for the first time. Also appearing at the venue will be the 25-year-old sensational Scandinavian saxophonist Marius Neset.

The world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir will headline Cork Opera House, having previously performed for Nelson Mandela and the Pope in New York.

Experimental Norwegian group Jaga Jazzist have been pencilled in to headline on Sunday night, although the gig is not yet confirmed. The nine-piece group combine traditional jazz instru-ments with electronica.

A week-long series of fringe events will also take place at various venues around the city, including exhibitions, lectures, workshops, master classes and live jazz.

The annual Jazz Camp will again take place at CIT, with Cork School of Music offering a mix of performances, workshops and masterclasses for free. It is open to any manner of ensemble, big band or individual musicians and fans.

This year, the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival returns to the Triskel Arts Centre for the first time since 2006 and the Cork Opera House for the first time since 2008.

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