Festival fever in Galway and Limerick: This week’s best jazz gigs

Aenghus Hackett, Beats & Pieces Big Band, Septeto Internacional and Peter Moc Group

Vocalist Lauren Kinsella is one of the headliners at the Galway Jazz Festival which runs from Wednesday October 2nd to Sunday October 6th

Vocalist Lauren Kinsella is one of the headliners at the Galway Jazz Festival which runs from Wednesday October 2nd to Sunday October 6th

 

Saturday September 28

JAZZGATE: THE MUSIC OF AENGUS HACKETT
Black Gate, Galway aengushackett.com

Galway guitarist Aengus Hackett has been packing them in at the Black Gate in recent months with his weekly celebrations of the icons of jazz. Now he takes the bold step of presenting his own music in the same series, with bassist Derek Whyte and drummer Matthew Jacobson, two of the most respected and rhythmically agile players on the Dublin scene. It would be depressingly fickle of the JazzGate audience if they didn’t pack the Black Gate this time to support a living, breathing musician from their own community. Seriously.

LIMERICK JAZZ FESTIVAL
Dolans, Limerick Ends tomorrow limerickjazzfestival.com
Limerick drummer John Daly and his happy band of jazz volunteers will have Shannonside swinging this weekend with a line-up that is compact but packed with talent. Still to come are two large ensembles tonight, Septeto Internacional (see below) and the Beats and Pieces big band (see below); and Sunday’s double bill sees innovative London guitarist Ant Law lead an Irish line-up that includes in-demand Belfast keyboardist Scott Flanigan, as well as Cork singer Gemma Sugrue’s collaboration with guitarist Julien Colarossi’s quartet.

BEATS & PIECES BIG BAND
Dolans, Limerick limerickjazzfestival.com
Even in the heyday of the form, nearly a century ago, keeping a big band together was a herculean task, but in the 21st century, a large jazz ensemble requires unusual levels of passion and commitment from all its members to stay together. The members of Manchester 14-piece Beats and Pieces, led by composer and conductor Ben Cottrell, have those qualities in spades, operating more like a small group in terms of their interplay and creativity, but there’s nothing quite like the blast of air from nine well-matched horns when the band get stuck into Cottrell’s deftly contemporary arrangements.

SEPTETO INTERNACIONAL
olans, Limerick limerickjazzfestival.com
Pianist and composer Michael Fleiner began his musical studies in the late 1980s in Colombia, and since then the Swiss-born musician has been leading bands exploring the Latin-American end of the jazz spectrum. His Septeto Internacional is a powerful seven-piece that includes Havana-born trumpeter Juan Munguia, who spent 15 years as lead trumpet with legendary Afro-Cuban pioneers Irakere, as well as stints with Cuban folk legend Silvio Rodríguez and Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Band. A rare opportunity to hear high-level Latin jazz on Irish stages, thanks to support from the Swiss embassy in Dublin. 

Sunday September 29

PETER MOC GROUP feat LAGE LUND
Arthurs, Dublin arthurspub.ie

Czech-born Dublin-based guitarist Peter Moc’s latest recording, Full Circle – recorded in Dublin last year and released this week – comes with heavyweight credentials courtesy of acclaimed New York guitarist Lage Lund. Born in Norway, Lund has been drawing critical praise in the US since relocating to New York in the early noughties, and the 40-year-old virtuoso has played with some of the leading innovators on the US scene including Seamus Blake, Mark Turner and Maria Schneider’s orchestra. Moc’s quartet also features two of the leading rhythm section players on the Dublin scene, bassist Andrew Csibi and drummer Kevin Brady.

Wednesday October 2

GALWAY JAZZ FESTIVAL
Continues until Sunday October 6th galwayjazz.ie

Under the stewardship of musician and Lyric FM presenter Ellen Cranitch, the Galway Jazz Festival is rewriting the festival rule book on a number of fronts. Subtitled “the sustainability edition”, this year’s festival is going all out to reduce its carbon footprint and encouraging its audience to do the same. But the programme, too, is challenging the usual jazz festival model, with commendable diversity in terms of genre, gender and venues across some 50 events, and a concentration on Irish-born talent that is an implicit rebuke to other, more established festivals. New commissions from mercurial percussionist Seán Carpio and innovative vocalist Lauren Kinsella, exploring connections with the landscape and traditions of the west, take pride of place on the programme alongside illustrious visitors such as rising UK saxophonist Trish Clowes, inventive piano duo Kaja Draksler from Slovenia and Eve Risser from France, as well as headline appearances from French bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, Italian bandoneon player Daniele Di Bonaventura, and Norwegian hardanger fiddle player Nils Økland. Notable by their absence are mainstream US performers – the air miles would be injurious – but there are plenty of high-quality hard-swinging Irish groups on the bill to slake that particular thirst, including star Limerick guitarist Andreas Varady’s trio, and a variety of intimate cafe and restaurant gigs around the city from notables such as Zrazy, Richie Buckley, Joe O’Callaghan, Matthew Berrill, Johnny Taylor and more. With so much happening, the best thing is to just turn up – preferably by public transport with your own water bottle – and go with the Galway flow. 

Thursday October 3

SIGNAL SERIES: TUDO BEM!/JENNIFER McMAHON QUARTET
Arthurs, Dublin improvisedmusic.ie
Improvised Music Company’s monthly curated series, showcasing the best of the domestic jazz scene, has moved to a new home: upstairs at Arthurs on Thomas Street, increasingly one of the go-to venues for jazz in Dublin. This month, eminent Irish bassist and composer Ronan Guilfoyle wears his love of Brazilian music on his sleeve with Tudo Bem!, a powerfully authentic quintet including Venezuelan virtuoso pianist Leopoldo Osio and muscular Brazilian drummer André Antunes. Also on the bill, vocalist Jennifer McMahon, recently returned from Valencia with a Berklee-accredited MA under her arm, presents her own compositions about grief and heartache, inspired by artists such as Esperanza Spalding, Melody Gardot and Gregory Porter.

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