Scott Bradlee, Seckou Keita, Snowpoet – the best jazz this week

Bradlee’s Postmodern Juke Box channel has amassed nearly a billion views and his PMJ live show is selling out auditoriums around the world

 

Sunday Feb 25

Ríona Sally Hartman

Bagots Huton, Dublin, 5pm, €12/8, bagotshutton.com

Musical surrealist Riona Sally Hartman is a genre onto herself, blending avant-folk, contemporary classical, absurdist theatre and free improvisation into her own weird confection. The vocalist and composer mines a distinctly Irish seam of magic realism, taking on characters like the fish who loves Frida Kahlo or the lovelorn peeping Tom and through them, spinning literate tales that recall Syd Barrett, Bjork and Theo Bleckmann.

Monday, Feb 26

Scott Bradlee’s Post Modern Juke Box

Vicar Street, Dublin, 8.30pm, €49.65 (also Tuesday 27); Cork Opera House, 7pm, €76/44 (Wednesday 28); Ulster Hall, Belfast, 8pm, £38 (Thurs Mar 1)

US pianist Scott Bradlee couldn’t get a gig back in 2009 when he started reworking pop songs in his New York basement and posting the results on YouTube. Seven years later his Postmodern Juke Box channel has amassed nearly a billion views and his PMJ live show is selling out auditoriums around the world. Jazz musicians have always co-opted popular songs because when listeners know the source material, they can hear how it’s being transformed and reinterpreted as a vehicle for personal expression. Whether Bradlee is expressing himself – or just cashing in on the popularity of pop songs without necessarily exploring them for improvisatory potential – is not an issue that his adoring fans will spend too much time worrying about.

Wednesday Feb 28

Seckou Keita

Little Museum of Dublin, 7pm (reception), 8pm (concert), €15, ergodos.ie

The kora occupies the same exalted space in west African music that the harp does in the Irish tradition, as the foundational instrument of the bardic or griot class. Today the sound of this aristocratic instrument, looking like a cross between a lute and a harp, is known around the world, mostly thanks to Malian virtuosos like Toumani Diabaté and Ballaké Sissoko. Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita, who plays the lesser-known repertoire of southern Senegal, is the latest performer in the eclectic, atmospheric Santa Rita series, programmed by intrepid indy label Ergodos Records.

Thursday, Mar 1

Snowpoet

Sofa Sessions at Billy Byrnes, Kilkenny (Thursday 1); Wexford Arts Centre (Friday 2); Triskel, Cork (Saturday 3); Campbells Tavern, Headford (Sunday 4); Spirit Store, Dundalk (Wednesday 7); Ballina Arts Centre (Thursday 8); Spectrum Festival, Dublin (Friday 9); Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (Saturday 10); Courthouse, Tinahely (Sunday 11)

Since moving to London in 2010, Irish vocalist Lauren Kinsella has been making quite a name for herself, winning the prestigious Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize from the Royal Academy of Music and being named Jazz FM Vocalist of the Year in 2016. Whatever the setting, from intimate duos to exploratory large ensembles, Kinsella blends an appreciation for words and their meaning with an improviser’s delight in the possibilities of sound, deploying shrieks and whoops alongside more conventional lyrics. Snowpoet is her collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson, and they’re on the road this month with a new record and a sextet featuring some of the best young players on the London scene, including saxophonist Josh Arcoleo and drummer Dave Hamblett.

Ruba Shamshoum

Bagots Huton, Dublin, 8.30pm, €12/10, bagotshutton.com

#Palestinian singer and composer Ruba Shamshoum’s east-meets-west songs might sound like they’re about love and loss, but beneath the surface, darker political and historical undertones are sounding. The Nazareth-born singer’s group is set up to take those songs in interesting directions, with cellist Aleka Potinga, guitarist Chris Guilfoyle, bassist Barry Rycraft and drummer Matthew Jacobson.

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