The Savage Five and Gilad Hekselman: This week’s best jazz gigs
The Ranelagh Arts Festival comes to a close this weekend
Israeli-born guitarist Gilad Hekselman’s trio play Arthurs, Dublin on Saturday, October 19th
Saturday, October 12th
Two Divas & A Piano
Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray. Also playing at Asgard Theatre, Arklow on Thursday, October 17th
With renowned arranger Fiachra Trench at the keyboard, and two of Ireland’s most respected vocalists, Flo McSweeney and Carmel McCreagh, Two Divas and a Piano is a old-school review style show, matching much-loved Broadway standards with more contemporary fare from the likes of Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell. McCreagh and McSweeney, sometimes separately, sometimes together, are the sort of singers who can invest the hoariest old chestnut with authentic emotion, and in Trench, whose credits include the string arrangement on Fairytale of New York, they have an infinitely sensitive accompanist who knows how to shape the song to the singer.
Ranelagh Arts Festival
Sandford Church and elsewhere, Ranelagh, Dublin
Ends Sunday, October 13th
The concert offerings of this vibrant local arts festival, programmed by respected jazz vocalist Emile Conway, have been running all week in the atmospheric Sandford Church, but still to come tonight is acclaimed Dutch soprano Judith Mok singing Purcell, Mozart and more, and two concerts on Sunday – first classy jazz pianist Johnny Taylor with a trio that includes creative drummer Sean Carpio and, in the evening, Belfast vocalist Suzanne Savage’s innovative beyond-category quintet The Savage Five (see below).
Sunday, October 13th
The Savage Five
Sandford Church, Dublin
Also playing at Magee College, Derry on Tuesday, October 15th; Sunflower Bar, Belfast on Wednesday, October 16th; Billy Byrne’s, Kilkenny on Thursday, October 17th
Belfast vocalist and songwriter Suzanne Savage is nothing if not adaptable as her career to date attests. She first emerged as lead soprano with Riverdance and is sought after as a backing vocalist by stars like Paul Brady, Eleanor McEvoy and Van Morrison among many others, but Savage’s own musical projects are altogether more adventurous. In particular, her Savage Five matches the singer’s supple, crystalline voice with a talented international string quartet, moving freely in that beyond-boundaries space where jazz meets classical meets contemporary song-writing. The equally adaptable quartet features New Zealanders, cellist Hugo Smit and violinist Alwyn Westbrook, with British viola player Rachael Yates and Dutch double bassist Sven Otte.
Graeme Bourke Trio
Workman’s Club, Dublin
Guitarist Mathias Winkler is the current custodian of the Dublin Jazz Co-Op series and the ÄTSCH front man didn’t have to look too far for this week’s offering in the cosy upstairs room at the Workman’s. Pianist Graeme Bourke, who plays with ÄTSCH and with hip-hop meets jazz five-piece Shy Mascot, is a former student of Phil Ware’s at DCU and a fan of hard-swinging pianists like Monty Alexander. Bourke’s new trio features two rising stars of the younger generation, bassist Keith Tobin and drummer Andy O’Farrell.
Monday, October 14th
DCU Jazz Jam
Grand Social, Dublin
Bassist Jacob Dunlop is the driving force behind the new Dublin City University jam sessions at the Grand Social. Jam sessions are a vital part of the training for aspiring jazz musicians, and these informal gigs are also a great way for listeners to dip a toe in the jazz waters without fear of drowning. It’s free every Monday night, and a chance to check out what’s cooking in DCU’s busy jazz department these days. Musicians bring instruments; listeners bring an open mind and you’ll be grand.
Thursday, October 17th
The Bal-Musette Trio
Respected traditional accordionist Martin Tourish is best known as a current member of the world-beating Altan, but this interesting side project, with leading jazz bassist Dave Redmond and Tolka Hot Club guitarist Stephen Daly, explores the bal-musette style that grew out of the elision of French café music with tango and gypsy jazz.
Saturday, October 19th
Gilad Hekselman Trio
Since moving to New York in 2004, Israeli-born guitarist Gilad Hekselman has established himself as one of the leading voices of a new generation of guitarists, heading his own projects and playing with some of the biggest names in US jazz, including saxophonists Chris Potter and Mark Turner, bassist Esperanza Spalding and pianist Aaron Parks. Hekselman’s last appearance in Dublin a couple of years ago won him admirers in Ireland and this return visit with his own trio has been hotly anticipated. The guitarist will also give a masterclass in Arthurs at 6pm before the concert at 9pm.