The best jazz this week: BAN BAM festival highlights women artists

Vibraphonist sampled by Kanye, Mulatu Astatke, graces the Sugar Club

Saturday, November 25

The Complex, Dublin; 4pm, €25 (full-day ticket)/€20 (performances only);

It’s probably going to take at least a generation to properly redress the yawning gender divide in jazz and creative music – on the stage and in the audience – but events like Ban Bam (get it?) may be remembered in more enlightened times as where it all started to change for the better.

The Improvised Music Company's one-day festival of women artists features a solo performance from Cork free saxophonist Catherine Sikora, recently returned from New York; London-based Afrobeat 8-Piece Kokoroko, led by trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, channelling their inner Fela Kuti; Palestinian-Irish vocalist and composer Ruba Shamshoum who is part of the new generation of women artists emerging from Newpark (now DCU) jazz programme; Polish-born, Dublin-based producer, composer singer and multimedia artist Dorota Konczewska; and a newly commissioned work from two of the leading women in Irish creative music, Japanese pianist Izumi Kimura (see also Wednesday) and violinist Cora Venus Lunny.

The afternoon session will feature a wide-ranging panel discussion with British composer Issie Barratt, Angela Dorgan from First Music Contact and broadcaster, musician and composer Ellen Cranitch. Check your stereotypes at the door.


ECM Weekend: Tim Berne & David Torn, Duo Gazzana, Cyminology
Triskel, Cork; also Sunday;
Triskel's annual celebration of the legendary German label continues today with a lunchtime performance from Italian violin and piano duo, Duo Gazzana, and this evening with a mouthwatering collaboration between two greats of the New York avant garde, saxophonist Tim Berne and guitarist and producer David Torn. Berlin quartet Cyminology present their blend of improv and Persian poetry on Sunday evening.

Monday, November 27

Mulatu Astatke
Sugar Club, Dublin; 8pm, €30; Also Nov 28.
Admired by Duke Ellington, sampled by Kanye, adored by hipsters everywhere, vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke is known as the "father of Ethio-jazz", the deeply grooving hybrid of 50s jazz and east-African traditions that emerged in Addis Ababa in the early 1970s.

Astatke was the first African student ever to enroll at Berklee College of Music in Boston and five decades later, he’s still swinging his mallets, still shining his unique light on the connections between post-bop jazz and African rhythms. But be warned, if you haven’t already got your tickets for these dates, originally slated for September, forget it – it sold out weeks ago.

Wednesday, November 29

The Return Flight of the Earls
Bello Bar, Dublin; 8pm, €17 (door)/€15 (online)/3day pass €35 (online only); Also Nov 30 and 31;
Jazz on the Terrace has a long history of bringing Irish and visiting musicians together, but this visionary project subverts the paradigm, calling home some of the best Irish jazz musicians based abroad. The bill includes bassist Michael Coady (Barcelona), vibraphonist Anthony Kerr (London), saxophonist Matthew Halpin (Cologne), drummer David Mason (New York), saxophonist Gerard Murphy (Marseille), pianist Fintan O'Neill (New York), trombonist and vocalist Paddy Sherlock (Paris) and vocalist Christine Tobin (New York), along with "honorary earls" Veronika Morscher (Cologne) and Phil Robson (London/New York).

They will be joined for this three-night festival by a further eighteen home-based musicians in what promises to be an emotional and high-quality celebration of Ireland’s jazz diaspora.

Tommy Halferty Trio
Arthurs, Dublin; 9pm, €10;
Derry guitarist Tommy Halferty has been a much-loved and hugely influential figure on the Irish jazz scene for the last 30 years. Now in his seventh decade, the fleet-fingered guitarist shows no sign of slowing down and his current trio, with the hard-swinging rhythm team of bassist Dave Redmond and drummer Kevin Brady, has been feted at home and abroad. They launch a new album, Station Midi, this month with a string of concerts around the country, starting with this special performance at Arthurs. The new album will be on sale on the night.

Izumi Kimura: Currents
Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin; 8pm, €15/12;
Japanese pianist Izumi Kimura has been an invaluable addition to the Irish creative music scene since she relocated to Dublin in the mid-1990s. A fearless and technically virtuosic instrumentalist, Kimura blurs the lines between contemporary classical, free improv and jazz, rising to the the sort of musical challenges that few other pianists on the island could meet.

The programme includes Sonatas and Interludes by John Cage, world premieres of works by Ronan Guilfoyle, Greg Caffrey, and Kimura herself, and improvisations inspired by the ocean. A concert piano, specially prepared for this performance, is made available through the excellent Music Network piano scheme, supported by Jeffers Pianos and the Galway Jazz Festival.