Cork welcomes 45,000 revellers for recession-beating jazz festival

Mon, Oct 26, 2009, 00:00

Bad weather proves no turn-off as ticket sales up 35% and city gets €6m cash boost

THE RECESSION blues were banished in Cork over the weekend when an estimated 45,000 revellers attended events associated with the Guinness Jazz Festival giving the city a cash injection in the region of €6 million.

Live music continues today in dozens of 80 venues – not just in Cork city but in Blarney, Kinsale and the city suburb of Douglas.

Jazz enthusiasts paid scant regard to the poor weather conditions over the weekend, soaking up the atmosphere at venues in the city and county.

Charlie Sheil, general manager of the Clarion Hotel in Cork, described the 32nd annual Guinness Jazz festival as being a recession-beating event. “There was a good crowd in the city and also in the suburbs. There is a great line-up at the hotel and around the city. I think people are going to put their troubles and worries behind them and get on and enjoy a good weekend. That is certainly what we are gearing up for.”

Ticket sales for this year’s festival were up 35 per cent on last year. More than 1,000 musicians from some 29 countries are playing at more than 80 venues around the city at this year’s festival which is now ranked as being in the top three jazz festivals in Europe.

The line-up for the weekend featured many of the top names in the business including Pharoah Sanders, Kurt Elling, Jack DeJohnette, The Bad Plus, Monty Alexander and Al DiMeola.

Other highlights include The Fun Lovin’ Criminals, the Gilad Atzmon Jazz Quartet and Imelda May.

A diverse array of musicians, including many who fall outside the “jazz” remit, converged on Cork for the four-day celebration.

As well as top acts performing in large venues and theatres such as the Everyman, the Metropole and the Savoy, virtually every pub in Cork is taking part in the music trail providing live entertainment.

Last night offered a choice between two tenor players, veteran Pharaoh Sanders in the Everyman and newcomer YolanDa Brown in the Savoy.

Renowned as Europe’s friendliest jazz festival, the event has hosted many of the greats of jazz in its 32-year history. Stars such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck, Cleo Laine, Joe Zawinul, Wynton Marsalis and Sonny Rollins have thrilled audiences over the years.

Guinness has sponsored the festival for 28 years having taken over from the cigarette company John Player in 1980.

The festival first took place in 1978 when jazz buff Pearse Harvey suggested the idea to Jim Mountjoy, who was marketing manager of the Metropole Hotel at the time. The event was organised as a last-minute replacement for a cancelled bridge tournament.

Michael Whelan, chief executive of the festival said since it’s inception, the people of Cork have warmly welcomed in excess of one million visitors to the event.

Meanwhile, jazz fans who enjoy good food received a treat over the weekend as highly acclaimed gastro pub An Cruibín, on Union Quay in Cork, hosted a culinary exchange with acclaimed Spanish chef Paco Guzman.

Paco, who worked in the famed El Bulli restaurant near Barcelona, was invited to Cork by Frank O’Connell and Paul Lewis who have been winning praise for their adventurous and innovative cooking style at An Cruibín.

“We have both eaten in Paco’s restaurant, Santa Maria in Barcelona, and admired his youthful, unpretentious and energetic spirit and the exchange involves Paco coming to Cork, and cooking Santa Maria-style using Irish-only ingredients.

“We will then do something similar in Barcelona – we’re looking forward to the away match,” said Frank.