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People behind the Jazz: Festival manager Jenny Gleeson gives us the lowdown on this year's Guinness Cork Jazz festival highlights

Meet Jenny Gleeson, the Festival manager for Guinness Cork Jazz Festival.

New on the Festival team, she joined Diageo from Lidl where she launched the brand’s first high-profile sponsorship with the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, which delivered a ground-breaking campaign for women in sport. Jenny has a background in PR and sponsorship.

In her current role, she looks at jazz festivals worldwide for inspiration and trends. “I've never been to New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival but it’s on my bucket list! I'd also love to visit the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro for all the colour, life and pageantry in the streets.”

1.What does the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival mean to you personally?

I visited the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival for the first time three years ago before I joined Guinness. I genuinely didn’t know what to expect but I was absolutely blown away by the atmosphere. The people of Cork just embrace the festival and there’s such a buzz in the pubs and around the city in general. I’ve been a fan of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival ever since so it’s a privilege to be working with Guinness as Festival Manger for this special 40th Anniversary edition and to build on the Festival’s great legacy. Guinness is extremely proud of this association which has grown and developed over the years into what is now, one of the most prestigious and hotly anticipated cultural events of the year. It’s great to be involved. 2017 is set to be even bigger and better with a really stellar line up for this milestone year.

2.What message would you have for those thinking about joining the Jazz festival fun in Cork?

With such an eclectic mix of quality artists across 400 music sessions in over 60 pubs, theatres, clubs and hotel venues across the city, there really is something for everyone at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Over the past 40 years, the festival has attracted some of the most influential jazz musicians in the world to Cork and this year we’ve got an amazing eclectic line up from Memphis jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater, Grammy Award-winning Kenny Garrett, Critically Acclaimed Nicholas Payton, as well as home-grown talent Soul Sensation Imelda May. The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is one of the best jazz festivals in Europe and right here in Cork. If you’ve never been I’d strongly urge you to go along especially for this 40th anniversary year this October bank holiday weekend, it will not disappoint.

3.What event or act are you looking forward to most at this year’s Guinness Cork Jazz festival?

I’m especially looking forward to the fantastic loud and proud Jazz Parade that will take to the city streets at mid-day on Saturday, starting on Grand parade, and finish at the Opera House Plaza. We’ve partnered with some of the country’s best street theatre companies, marching bands, Cork School of Music and Cork City Council to ensure that this is one of the stand out attractions of the weekend outside the core music programme – expect big energy.

4. Do you have a stand out Guinness Cork Jazz festival memory from years gone by?

I have to go back to the first time I visited the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival three years ago and what stood out to me then, and still does now, is the unique atmosphere in the City. Walking down McCurtain Street to my accommodation from the train station when I got into Cork and there was just such a buzz and I couldn’t wait to check in and get back out and experience the Festival.

5. If you had to highlight one venue that any Guinness Cork Jazz festival newbie should experience what would it be?

To mark the 40-year milestone, The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival has partnered with Ronnie’s Scott’s Jazz Club of Soho which is a ‘first’ for any jazz festival in Europe. Ronnie Scott’s will operate a pop-up jazz club at the Festival Club in the Metropole Hotel which will feature many Irish and overseas musicians; and the ‘Ronnie Scott’s All Stars’ band will play The Everyman on Sunday afternoon, all as part of an in-depth partnership that looks set to be one of the major highlights over the festival weekend

6. How will you spend the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival? 

In my role as Festival manager, I’ll be covering lots of ground over the weekend but I won’t be alone in that. The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is one of the finest examples of collaboration with groups working seamlessly together. We work closely with the Cork Jazz Committee, in particular, this year’s Chair Fiona Collins, Cork City Council and Fáilte Ireland. My commercial colleagues here in Cork; Michael Lyons and his team also have a great relationship with the publicans, hoteliers, venue owners and restauranteurs in Cork who play a huge part in ensuring people leave the festival with such amazing memories.

The festival weekend officially kicks off on Thursday with a free open-air concert in Emmet place with Brian Deady and Paddy Casey so I’m looking forward to that and visiting a number of the pubs, hotels and venues on the music trail along with along with my colleagues in Cork across the weekend.

7. Finally, looking ahead ten years do you believe the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival will still be going strong?

I truly believe that there are endless possibilities when it comes to the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. We are fully committed to it and have been since the beginning of our partnership, and there’s no doubt it, its future has enormous potential.

Full details for the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival can be found www.guinnessjazzfestival.com.

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