Ethereal sounds from Iceland: This week’s jazz highlights

Ex-Múm cellist Gyða Valtýsdóttir, Matthew Berrill, Jeff Ballard and Nigel Mooney

Icelandic cellist and singer Gyða Valtýsdóttir plays the Black Box, Belfast (Thursday 31) and the Dublin Unitarian Church (Friday 1)


Workman's Club, Dublin 8pm €10

Saxophonist and clarinetist Matthew Berrill was a leading member of the generation of jazz musicians that meaningfully engaged with Irish traditional music in the 2000s, adding his thoughtful, precise playing to groundbreaking projects such as Ensemble Ériu and Cuar. The Galway man makes a rare visit to the capital this week for the latest in the artist-curated Dublin Jazz Cop-Op series at the Workman’s, with a powerful quartet that includes trombonist Colm O’Hara, bassist Sean Maynard-Smith and drummer Brendan Doherty.


Triskel, Cork, 8pm, €20.90, Also Friday Feb 1, NCH, Dublin, 7pm & 9pm, €25,

Best known nowadays as one third of the world-beating Brad Mehldau trio, Jeff Ballard is one of the most respected drummers in US jazz, with a back story that takes in Ray Charles, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Chick Corea. The Fairground project, a shifting alliance of equally talented colleagues, is Ballard’s personal amusement park, a chance to stretch out and experiment with new sounds. The collective’s current iteration hits Cork and Dublin this week with a powerful line-up that includes virtuoso Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke (Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard), respected New York pianist Kevin Hays (Chris Potter, Joshua Redman) and much-sought-after US saxophonist Chris Cheek (Paul Motian, Charlie Haden).


Black Box, Belfast 8pm £12/£8 Also Friday Feb 1, Unitarian Church, Dublin 8pm €22

Since leaving experimental Icelandic quartet Múm, of which she was a founding member, cellist Gyða Valtýsdóttir has studied classical cello in St Petersburg and toured with Jónsi of Sigur Rós and Damien Rice, but her main focus has been developing her own ethereal brand of music which mixes folk and post-rock elements with contemporary classical and improvisation. Epicycle is a live collaboration with two lions of experimentalism, Swiss drum virtuoso Julian Sartorius and Pakistani-American multi-instrumentalist Shazad Ismaily, with a repertoire that runs from Hildegard von Bingen to Messiaen and George Crumb.

Arthurs, Dublin 9pm €10

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Grant Green, the legendary Blue Note guitarist who pioneered hard bop and soul jazz guitar in the 50s and 60s. Green has always been a particular inspiration for Dublin guitarist and Gripewater Blues Band founder Nigel Mooney, and this special celebration promises a generous helping of blues-soaked, intensely grooving sounds from Mooney’s organ trio, featuring fast-rising Belfast keyboardist Scott Flanigan and the impeccable Dominic Mullen on drums.