Jazz festival hits right notes

One of Ireland’s greatest blues guitarists was remembered in Cork last night as the Guinness Jazz Festival also kicked off.

A biography of Rory Gallagher by veteran radio producer Marcus Connaughton was laun-ched in City Hall as city bosses announced plans to develop a Rory Gallagher festival on Leeside within two years.

“For anyone who grew up in the ’60s, he was the soundtrack to our lives. And for anyone who picked up a guitar in the ’60s, he was the inspiration,” Mr Connaughton said, urging that Gallagher’s music must be central to the plan.

His book, Rory Gallagher: His Life and Times, published by Collins Press, was launched as the city’s pubs, clubs and hotels geared up for the 35th Guinness Jazz Festival which is expected to boost the local economy by at least €12m.

And the fringe festival, which aims to extend the jazz experience beyond the bank holiday weekend, was officially launched at Cork Airport where sponsors Diageo presented a painting commemorating three decades of the event to the people of Cork.

Artist Mia Funk’s painting, which was commissioned last year, features some of the jazz legends who have played the festival over 30 years.

It will go on display at the airport to mark its link with the event over the years. The airport’s marketing manager, Kevin Cullinane, said it expected to handle up to 35,000 over the weekend — a 2% increase on the corresponding period last year.

The main festival kicks off tonight with one of Johnny Depp’s favourite bands, the world-renowned Romanian gypsy music band Taraf De Haidouks, playing at Cork Opera House.

Other headliners at the Metropole festival club, the Opera House, and Triskel Christchurch across the weekend include Miles Smiles, who plays a double-bill with drumming virtuoso Chris Dave, the Roy Hargrove Quintet, Phronesis, Christine Tobin, and Anna Maria Jopek.

The programme also includes Beach House, De La Soul, Cathy Davey, The Walls, The Hot 8 Brass Band, Prince Fatty with Hollie Cook, and Hypn-otic Brass Ensemble.

As well as the regular jazz trail, there will be free outdoor music and food events aimed at families, with marching bands like the Dixieland Crackerjacks and Berlin’s Beat ’n Blow hitting the streets. There will be a food market on St Patrick’s Street and Daunt Square on Saturday and Sunday, and a craft market on Emmet Place.

The CIT Cork School of Music, which hosts jazz workshops across the weekend, will also celebrate 20 years of jazz for families on Saturday morning with a special concert by its jazz big band, featuring guest saxophonist Jean Toussaint.

* guinnessjazzfestival.com

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