Jazz this week: Spectrum Festival, Brilliant Corners, Flo McSweeney and Carmel McCreagh

Thunderblender in Cork; Snowpoet and Spectrum Festival go nationwide

 

Saturday, March 3rd

Brilliant Corners
Black Box, Belfast and elsewhere; runs till Saturday March 10th; brilliantcornersbelfast.com
Belfast’s excellent Brilliant Corners festival is back for it’s sixth instalment this week with a typically eclectic and high quality line-up programmed by Moving On Music. The explorative bill features legendary UK guitarist Jim Mullen, respected Detroit saxophonist JD Allen, and innovative Slovenian pianist Kaja Draklser, as well as a strong domestic programme that includes composer Brian Irvine’s ensemble and drummer David Lyttle’s trio. There’s a special showcase of new Irish acts, presented to coincide with a meeting of the international Jazz Promotion Network, featuring Belfast guitarist Jon Leighton’s trio, Dublin vocalist Sue Rynhart, and Cork trombonist Paul Dunlea’s group. There’s also a film strand which includes a rare opportunity to see Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour L’échafaud on the big screen with a Miles Davis score which prefigured Kind of Blue.

Flo McSweeney/Carmel McCreagh/Fiachra Trench
Arthurs, Dublin, 9.30pm, €10, arthurspub.ie
The best singers reveal something personal, even when singing an old standard, and vocalists Flo McSweeny and Carmel McCreagh are certainly bringing their own meanings and experiences to this rummage through the great American songbook. Entitled “Love, and all that jazz”, the repertoire runs from Cole Porter to Joni Mitchell, with sensitive piano accompaniment from arranger and film composer Fiachra Trench.

Sunday, March 4th

Snowpoet
Campbell’s Tavern, Headford (Sunday 4th); Spirit Store, Dundalk (Wednesday 7th); Ballina Arts Centre (Thursday 8th); Spectrum Festival, Dublin (Friday 9th); Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (Saturday 10th); Courthouse, Tinahely (Sunday 11th)
Snowpoet is acclaimed Dublin-born vocalist Lauren Kinsella’s collaboration with UK multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson, exploring the intersection between poetry and improv. Kinsella has been winning huge respect and praise on the London scene over the last five years with her daring experiments in words and music, and she’s touring Ireland this month with a powerful London sextet in tow, including saxophonist Josh Arcoleo and drummer Dave Hamblett.

Tuesday, March 6th

Thunderblender
Crane Lane, Cork (Tuesday 6th); Black Gate, Galway (Wednesday 7th); Black Box, Belfast (Thursday 8th); Fumbally Stables, Dublin (Saturday 10th); Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford (Sunday 11th), samcomerford.com
Dublin saxophonist Sam Comerford graduated from Newpark’s jazz programme in 2012 and promptly decamped to Brussels for a masters, winning the Toots Thielmans award at the Koninklijk Conservatorium a few years later. There he has remained, honing his craft and slowly building an international reputation for innovation, particularly on the seldom heard bass saxophone. Comerford is home this month with Thunderblender, his raucous new trio with drummer Jens Bouttery and pianist Hendrik Lasure, which strikes that most elusive balance between art and fun.

Wednesday, March 7th

Kaleidoscope
Bello Bar, Dublin, 8.30pm, €12, kaleidoscopenight.com
This month the visionary monthly salon that laughs in the face of stylistic distinction is exploring various manifestations of breath with Carl Nielsen’s Wind Quintet Op. 43 from Cassiopeia Winds; a Telemann Duo Sonata from flautist Catriona Ryan and oboist Matthew Manning; a 2013 work for voice and electronics by Irish composer Gráinne Mulvey, performed by vocalist Elizabeth Hilliard; and a reprise performance of jazz guitarist Tommy Halferty’s original suite, Seven Steps to Albert Camus. Like the Spectrum festival (see Friday), Kaleidoscope is music for the open-minded listener who is confident enough to abandon their genre blinkers and challenge their ears.

Friday, March 9th

Spectrum Festival
Various venues, continues until Sunday, Mar 11th improvisedmusic.ie
As Brian Eno once said of avant-garde composer John Cage, we don’t all have to be polar explorers, but it’s good to know that someone has gone to these extreme places and can tell us what’s there. The Spectrum Festival, programmed by the Improvised Music Company, is a report from the frontiers, a chance for listeners who spend most of their time in temperate waters to dip a toe in more rarified musical climes. Subtitled “creative music for curious ears”, Spectrum converges on the space where jazz, contemporary classical, the avant garde, and art rock collide, and though compact in size, is an important event in the city’s musical calendar. This year’s bill includes the MOBO award-winning Sons of Kemet (Friday), a collaboration between Cork saxophonist Catharine Sikora and Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase (Saturday), and renowned Mongolian throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu (Sunday), plus two innovative projects from Irish musicians based abroad, Lauren Kinsella’s Snowpoet (see Sunday) and Sam Comerford’s Thunderblender (see Tuesday).

Zrazy
Bagots Hutton, Dublin, 8.30pm, €15/12/10, bagotshutton.com
Pop jazz duo Zrazy, with Maria Walsh (vocals and percussion) and Carole Nelson (piano and saxophone), have been flying the flag for women in Irish jazz – more of less singlehandedly – for the last two decades. There is still a yawning gender imbalance in the island’s scene, but there are signs that a new generation of Irish female jazz musicians is finally emerging, such as bassist Jennifer Hallahan, who joins Zrazy for this gig in celebration of International Women’s Day.

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