Music lovers get their jazz hands at the ready

THE only answer to the recessionary blues is some rhythm and blues, with a bit of jazz thrown in for good measure.

Some 50,000 music-hungry revellers are expected to pour into Cork for the annual Jazz Festival, which runs from today until Monday.

Now into its 33rd year, Cork’s Guinness Jazz Festival remains one of Ireland’s premier music events and draws the best in jazz, blues and even a bit of comedy.

Even the planned demolition of two pedestrian bridges over one of Cork city’s busiest roads over the weekend is unlikely to stem the flow of music lovers eager to enjoythe hundreds of free and paid-for events taking place all over the city.

This year’s music line-up, headed by world stars Randy Brecker, Kyle Eastwood, Bobby Watson and Jean-Luc Ponty, is one of the strongest line-ups ever.

The increasing emphasis at jazz festivals all over the world in programming crossover acts sees the Festival featuring such diverse artists and bands as Damon Albarn of Gorillaz and Blur fame, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tia Fuller from Beyonce’s band, Pee Wee Ellis and his Funk Assembly band, Grandmaster Flash, Amiina, The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Fatoumata Diawara, Ghostpoet and The Hot 8 from New Orleans, to name just a few.

This year’s festival promises something extra funky with a specially commissioned art piece by artist Mia Funk commemorating over 30 years of the festival. The painting features 21 of the top artists that have played over the years and is part of Funk’s highly acclaimed “audience series”, for which she won the Prix de Peinture at the Salon d’Automne de Paris in 2009.

Funk, who lived in Ireland and spent many summers painting the Cork landscape, said that she was privileged and pleased to have been given the opportunity to create the painting.

“Being a jazz fan myself and having a great affection for Cork, I particularly enjoyed doing the jazz audience for the festival. It was a great honour to be selected to paint all these jazz legends. I put more into this painting than any of my other audiences and couldn’t be happier with the result,” she said.

A unique commemorative poster has been made incorporating the painting and is available through Buckley Fine Art Galleries and selected outlets. The painting will be on display in the window of Brown Thomas for the week of the Jazz Festival and a jazz greats-themed exhibition of Mia’s work will be on show at the Gallery Kinsale in Kinsale for the week of the jazz.

The Bowery and The Slate, two of Cork’s most popular late night venues, both located on Tuckey Street, are two spots to catch some of the best free gigs, as well as doing your bit for charity with all those attending to contribute to The Surgeon Noonan Society — the UCC charity raising money to send much-needed medical aid to struggling countries throughout Africa.

* guinnessjazzfestival.com

Jazz highlights

* Pee Wee Ellis and His Funk Assembly (€35 excluding booking fee); Savoy Theatre, Saturday, October 29, at 9pm.

* Bill Evans’ Soulgrass with special guest Randy Brecker (€30 exc booking fee); Everyman Palace; Saturday at 8.30pm.

* Tia Fuller Quartet (€30 exc booking fee); Everyman Palace, Sunday, at 2pm.

* Jean-Luc Ponty Quartet (€30 exc booking fee); Everyman Palace; Sunday, at 8.30pm.

* DJ Grandmaster Flash (€35 exc booking fee); Savoy Theatre, Saturday at 9.30pm.

* Marius Neset & The Golden Xplosion (€20 exc booking fee); Triskel Christchurch, Sunday at 8pm.

* ReDiviDeR (€8 to €10); Triskel Auditorium, Sunday at 11pm.

* Tim Minchin (€29 exc booking fee); Cork Opera House, Monday at 8pm.

* WoWos New York Sextet (€8 to €10); Triskel Auditorium, Saturday at 11pm.

* The Harlem Gospel Choir; Cork Opera House, Saturday at 8pm.

* Trygve Seim and Frode Haltli (€20 exc booking fee); Triskel Christchurch, Saturday at 3pm.

* Bobby Watson All-Stars (€20 exc booking fee); Triskel Christchurch, Friday at 8.00pm.

* Palooka (€8 to €10); Triskel Auditorium, Friday at 11pm.

* Stanley Jordan (€20 exc booking fee); Triskel Christchurch, Saturday at 8pm.

* Singing Nina; The Half Moon Theatre Cork Opera House, Saturday at 8pm.

Free Highlights

* Street Bands at the Super Dome on Emmet Place and throughout the mains streets of Cork.

* The OhnO Jazzband from the Netherlands. This street parade band provides a spectacular and exciting performance on stage as well.

* Beat ‘n Blow. The nine-piece parade band from Berlin plays a revolutionary fusion of jazz funk, hip hop and world music styles.

* The Dixieland Crackerjacks from the Netherlands bring their happy traditional New Orleans sounds to the streets.

* A 470 Big Band. From Wales, this 18 piece community big band come with a stylish repertoire of swing, rock and funk classics.

The Big Jazz Fringe

* Jazz photography exhibition: Tribute to Bill Johnson; Triskel Centre, Tuesday-Monday.

* Jazz Gospel Service; Sunday at 11am. St Anne’s, Shandon.

* Jazz in the Park; Fitzgerald’s Park, Mardyke, Saturday and Sunday 3pm to 5pm.

The numbers

* There is music in more than 60 venues across the city and in the suburbs — over 90% of it free — on the Guinness Music Trail.

* More than 1,000 musicians from 37 countries will perform.

* €15 million is expected to be pumped into the local economy over the four days of the festival.

* The Jazz Festival is one of Ireland’s biggest arts and cultural events and is one of the four flagship festivals in Ireland, as nominated by Fáilte Ireland in terms of the development of cultural tourism.

* Last year, people attending saw an average of 4.5 events.

* A large majority of Irish festival visitors excluding those from Cork, came from Dublin (45%). The largest amount of foreign visitors were from England (55%).

* The total spend by the average visitor over the jazz weekend last year was €772 per person.

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