Pop-up jazz supergroup in Kilkenny: this week’s best jazz gigs

Chris Guilfoyle’s Superumbra. Plus: Súp, Maya Youssef and Camille O’Sullivan

Guitarist Chris Guilfoyle’s Umbra head for the Kilkenny Arts Festival this week to hook up with international guests to create Superumbra on Wednesday 15th  

Guitarist Chris Guilfoyle’s Umbra head for the Kilkenny Arts Festival this week to hook up with international guests to create Superumbra on Wednesday 15th  

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Súp
Workman’s Club, Dublin Sunday August 12th 8pm €10 facebook.com/dublinjazzcoop

Cork pianist Cormac McCarthy is one of the few jazz musicians from these shores to engage with Irish traditional music, and his very listenable Cottage Evolution release in 2015 brought the native tradition into fruitful contact with a Metheny-esque midwestern sensibility. This new trio project, featuring regular collaborators Eoin Walsh on bass and Davie Ryan on drums, promises “an urgent new musical lexicon” embracing trad, jazz and contemporary classical influences. It’s part of the musician-led Dublin Jazz Co-op series which is showcasing the best of the current Irish jazz scene in an intimate upstairs room at the Workman’s and deserves to be supported by anyone with an ear for creative music.

Superumbra
Set Theatre, Kilkenny Wednesday August 15th 10pm €25 kilkennyarts.ie

The Sofa Sessions – Kilkenny’s weekly jazz club programmed, to declare an interest, by this correspondent – takes it up a notch or two this week, presenting a series of seven shows as part of this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival. Rising Dublin guitarist and composer Chris Guilfoyle brings his uber-talented Umbra quintet to the Marble City – hot on the heels of West, their superb debut release – and he has invited three major international stars of the contemporary jazz scene from both sides of the Atlantic to join him: acclaimed downtown New York vocalist Theo Bleckmann, influential German trombonist and composer Nils Wogram, and exciting Boston alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher. The headline event is Superumbra at the Set Theatre on Wednesday 15th, featuring all the musicians in a one-off gala performance of Guilfoyle’s music, and there’s a series of “club” sets, some of them free, featuring the big-name visitors in the atmospheric back room at Billy Byrne’s where it all started. The club sets – at 6pm and 10pm on Tuesday 14th, Thursday 16th and Friday 17th – are timed to let broadminded festival-goers catch some jazz before or after the festival’s main evening concerts. Full details at the Kilkenny Arts Festival website and at facebook.com/sofasessionskilkenny

Maya Youssef
John Field Room, NCH, Dublin Wednesday August 15th 8pm €25/€22.50 nch.ie

Set Theatre, Kilkenny Thursday August 16th 10pm €25 kilkennyarts.ie

When she was a girl of nine, world music innovator Maya Youssef was told that the qanum – a traditional Syrian 78-stringed plucked zither – was only for men, but that didn’t deter her from becoming one of the instrument’s leading exponents. Blending the folk music of her own, sadly war-torn land with jazz, flamenco and western classical music, Youssef’s sound, with cellist Barney Morse-Brown and percussionist Elizabeth Nott, is an urgent cry for peace.

Camille O’Sullivan
Set Theatre, Kilkenny Friday August 17th 10pm €25 kilkennyarts.ie

Sultry songstress Camille O’Sullivan operates in that nether land between music and theatre, where the song is like a script for an intense five-minute drama, in this case from the pens of such princes of darkness as Jacques Brel, Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Kurt Weill. The London-born, West Cork-raised singer has wooed audiences around the world with her dark, jazz-tinged cabaret, from Broadway to the Royal Albert Hall to Sydney Opera House, but Ireland’s own princess of darkness is on home soil this week to perform as part of the Martin Hayes-curated Marble City Sessions at the Kilkenny Arts Festival.

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