Six of the best jazz concerts to see in Ireland this week
Stella Maris, OKO, Brian Smyth tribute, Sikoro/Smyth, Roy Ayers, Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave
Dublin drummer Sean Carpio brings his star-studded Stella Maris project to sacred spaces around Ireland this week.
Saturday, 23rd June
Stella Maris (tour)
St. Werburgh’s Church, Dublin; 8pm; €15/10; seancarpio.com/stella-maris (also Sunday 8pm, Stella Maris Church, Downings, Co. Donegal; Monday 8pm, Calry Parish Church, Sligo; Tuesday 5pm, St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church, Galway; Wednesday 8pm, Duiske Abbey, Graignamanagh, Co. Kilkenny; Thursday 8pm, Calary Church, Kilmacanoge, Co. Wicklow)
To call Sean Carpio a drummer doesn’t really do justice to the generosity of his vision. The Dublin-born musician certainly knows his way around a set of drums and cymbals, but rather than embrace the easy life he might have had as a first-call sideman, Carpio has spent the last decade pursuing a wider conception of what a contemporary improviser’s practice can be. But even by those standards, Stella Maris is a project of extraordinary vision and rare execution.
With Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug, Carpio has visited each of the churches on this tour over the last year, recording actor Genevieve Hulme-Beaman reciting an Egyptian poem. The varying sonorities and overtones captured in the different sacred spaces provided the inspiration for a suite of compositions – named for the church in Donegal, designed by his grandfather, where it all started – which they now return to perform in those same spaces. If that weren’t inducement enough to attend, the musicians that Carpio and Ploug have assembled to complete this fascinating journey are some of the strongest on the contemporary European scene, including Belgian saxophonist Joachim Badenhorst, Danish bassist Jeppe Skovbakke and New York-based Irish guitarist Simon Jermyn. Unmissable.
Sunday, 24th June
Workman’s Club, Dublin; 7.30pm; €10, facebook.com/dublinjazzcoop
OKO are a Dublin four piece that poke a funky finger in the eye of jazz orthodoxy. Offering what they describe as “delicately sculpted electro-acoustic shapes, doom, funk science and expansive improv”, guitarist Shane Latimer, turntablist Jack McMahon, keyboardist Darragh O’Kelly and drummer Shane O’Donovan are like mad scientists in a sound lab, cooking up grooves, letting them boil over, descending into chaos, only to emerge triumphantly with an even deeper groove. And having enormous fun in the process.
Monday, 25th June
Brian Smyth Tribute
Arthurs, Dublin; 7pm; €15; eventbrite.ie
In memory to the late Brian Smyth – whose tireless promotion of good music in the legendary (and now defunct) upstairs room at JJ Smyths made a major contribution to the cultural life of his home city – several of the musicians with whom he was most associated gather for a special tribute night. Guitarist Nigel Mooney, the first musician to play JJs back in the mid 1980s, brings his well-drilled quintet to the party. Also on the bill are saxophonist Richie Buckley, the lynchpin of many important residencies at JJs, veteran vocalist Donal Kirk and internationally-celebrated guitarist Anto Drennan. All funds raised will go to the Brian Smyth Fund of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland (SBHI), which Smyth supported over many years.
Thursday, 28th June
St. Finans Church, Adelaide Road, Dublin; 8pm; €10; note.ie
Free improv has always struggled to gain a foothold in the Irish musical landscape, but there are a few bold adventurers on the island who cleave staunchly to the principles of spontaneous composition. Here are two of the boldest. Catherine Sikora, born and raised in west Cork, has done most of her playing abroad, principally New York, but she’s back living in Ireland again. She has worked with Han-earl Park and Stanley Zappa, and was principal soloist on her husband Eric Mingus’ re-imagining of The Who’s Tommy at the Adelaide Festival in 2015. She is joined by pianist Paul G Smyth – best known for his playing with Zomnambulist alt-rockers The Jimmy Cake – whose credits also include appearances with free jazz legends Evan Parker and Peter Brötzmann.
Sugar Club, Dublin; 8pm; €24.50; thesugarclub.com
Vibraphonist Roy Ayers has been bringing the happy to funk and soul since the 1970s. Hits like Everybody Loves the Sunshine and Running Away were foundational texts of the acid jazz movement and as he dances blissfully into his late 70s, the “godfather of neo-soul” continues to make hipsters an offer their hips can’t refuse.
Friday, 29th June
Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave & the Drumhedz
Sugar Club, Dublin; 8pm; €20; thesugarclub.com
Chris Dave is the guy top US producers call when they want something more than just a back beat. The Houston-born drummer has laid his magic hands on R&B hits by D’Angelo, Justin Bieber and Adele, as well as collaborating regularly with jazz stars like Robert Glasper and Kenny Garrett. The Drumhedz is what ‘Daddy’ Dave gets up to when he’s not doing his hired gun thing, and the return of this powerful band to the Sugar Club will draw a large and discerning audience of head nodders.