End of a jazz era in Leeson Street: this week’s best jazz gigs

Lounge Quintet make their last stand. Guinness Cork Jazz Festival gets in full swing

The Lounge Quintet close one of the longest-running residencies in the city on Tuesday 29th at the Leeson Lounge in Dublin

Saturday 26

Mermaid, Bray mermaidarts.ie; also Triskel, Cork Sunday 27
French trumpeter Airelle Besson – part of a new generation of European musicians who are flying past the genre nets and inventing a new language that blends jazz, classical, folk and pop – teams up with pianist Sebastian Sternal and drummer Jonas Burgwinkel for a Music Network tour that concludes on Sunday at the Cork Jazz Festival.

Various venues, Cork Ends Monday 28th guinnessjazzfestival.com
You have to drill down into the programme of this year's Cork Jazz Festival to find the good stuff, but for the determined jazz fan, there are some real gems to be uncovered. Still to come this bank holiday weekend, check out Triskel's ECM series, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the storied German record label with a performance on Saturday night from English saxophonist John Surman, and on Sunday Albanian singer Elina Duni's duo with guitarist Rob Luft and a solo performance by hugely respected Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen. Also at Triskel on Sunday is French trumpeter Airelle Besson's trio (see above). Cork trombonist Paul Dunlea's programme at the Green Room in the Cork Opera House is an opportunity to check out the strength and diversity of the Irish contemporary scene, with performances still to come from starkly original vocalist Sue Rynhart and Dublin guitarist Chris Guilfoyle's talent-rich Umbra quartet. Dunlea, one of the lynchpins of the year-round Cork jazz scene, takes the Green Room stage himself on Sunday with trumpeter Ryan Quigley, pianist Cormac McCarthy and bassist Deirdre Frost. On Saturday night in the Metropole festival club, dig your way past the chattering classes and you'll find excellent trios led by drummer Darren Beckett and saxophonist Tom Caraher, while long-time festival favourite Harry Connolly will be in residence at the Shelbourne bar for the duration, with special guests including Cork saxophone legend Len McCarthy and respected Belfast pianist Neil Everett.

Monday 28

Sugar Club, Dublin (matinee) thesugarclub.com

These eight brothers from Chicago cook up a winning blend of funk, jazz, hip-hop and R&B that has endeared them to audiences all over the world. Their latest sojourn in Ireland concludes with an all-ages matinee at 2.30pm in the Sugar Club, a rare push-back against the licensing laws’ age apartheid that prevents under-18s from witnessing good live music.


Tuesday 29

Leeson Lounge, Dublin
Tuesdays at the Leeson Lounge has been a go-to for fans of hard-swinging hard bop for the last five years, and the news that the venerable bar is changing hands and the Lounge Quintet's residency is coming to an end will be greeted with howls of despair from the faithful. But there's still one last chance to experience the unique atmosphere of this much-loved session and to check out one of Dublin's longest running jazz groups, featuring trumpeter Bill Blackmore, saxophonist Fintan Jones, guitarist Tom Harte, bassist Paid McConolog and drummer Tom Dunne. Expect some of the great musicians who have "depped" the gig over the years to turn up and make this final session something extra-special. Venues for live music are increasingly rare in the city centre and credit is due to the great staff at the Leeson Lounge for supporting live music over the years. Bring on the empty horses . . .

NCH, Dublin nch.ie
As part of its excellent, genre-blind Perspectives series, the National Concert Hall, in association with the Barbican and the Philharmonie de Paris, commissioned British multi-instrumentalist and curator David Coulter to take another look at Tom Waits's influential 1983 opus Swordfishtrombones. The former Waits collaborator, who has serious form when it comes to revisioning classic recordings, responds with a mouthwatering line-up that features singers Dorian Wood, Nadine Shah and Lisa O'Neill, backed by a heavyweight group of musicians including Jessie Ware guitarist Dave Okumu and the Polar Bear rhythm section of drummer Seb Rochford and bassist Tom Herbert.

Wednesday 30

Arthurs, Dublin arthurspub.ie
Los Angeles-born pianist Connie Han garnered breathless reviews in the US last year for her major label debut, Crime Zone, with critics comparing her to McCoy Tyner, Kenny Kirkland and Mulgrew Miller. Still only 23 years old, Han looks set for jazz stardom, and chances to hear her in an intimate club setting may become increasingly rare in the years ahead. She finishes a European tour on Wednesday night on the grand piano upstairs at Arthurs with her own trio, featuring drummer Bill Wysaske and bassist Ryan Berg.

Thursday 31

Arthurs, Dublin arthurspub.ie
With the passing of Louis Stewart in 2016, Derry guitarist Tommy Halferty assumed the mantle of his one-time mentor as Ireland's most respected jazz guitarist. In a scene replete with talented jazz guitarists, that is praise indeed, but Halferty wears his mantle lightly, and his influence on younger guitarists, both as a player and as an educator, has been considerable. The ebullient guitarist's longstanding trio features perhaps the hardest-swinging, most experienced mainstream rhythm section on the Irish scene today: bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Kevin Brady, who respond to Halferty's effortlessly fluent post-bop playing with talent and creativity.