The week’s best jazz gigs: Far-out fun in Dublin and Belfast
Brilliant Corners and Spectrum festivals bring forward-looking bills to the two cities
Brian Irvine: the much-respected Belfast jazz composer appears at Spectrum Festival in Dublin this week. Photograph: Marcin Wilkowski Photography
SATURDAY MARCH 2
Brilliant Corners Jazz Festival
Black Box, Belfast, continues until Saturday 9th, brilliantcornersbelfast.com
Belfast creative music promoters Moving on Music are pretty good at eluding the genre nets when they want to, but once a year their Brilliant Corners festival presents a forward-looking programme of contemporary jazz, domestic and imported. This year’s small but perfectly formed bill, spread across a whole week at the Black Box, includes London post-apocalyptics The Comet is Coming (Saturday, 8pm); explorative Japanese pianist Izumi Kimura (Sunday, 2.45pm); a new project from leading Belfast pianist Scott Flanigan, featuring rising UK guitarist Ant Law (Sunday, 7pm); renowned Belfast composer Brian Irvine’s anarchic ensemble (Wednesday, 8pm, see also Spectrum below); Finnish saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen Magnetia Orkestri (Friday, 8pm, see also Spectrum below); and Bristol art jazzers Get the Blessing, with a solo support slot from Dublin guitarist Chris Guilfoyle (Saturday 9th, 8pm).
Workman’s Club, Dublin, 7.30pm, €10, facebook.com/dublinjazzcoop
Vocalist Aoife Doyle blurs the lines between jazz, folk and country, bringing a rare authenticity and emotional courage to what are often well-worn standard tunes and making 80-year-old Broadway songs sound like they were written especially for her. The Bray native is always found in impeccable company, and this latest instalment of the artist-curated Dublin Jazz Co-Op series is no exception, with long-term collaborators pianist Johnny Taylor, bassist Andrew Csibi and drummer Dominic Mullen providing the empathetic support.
Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 7pm, €43, olympia.ie
The unexpected rise to superstardom of Los Angeles saxophonist Kamasi Washington is an example of what happens to a middle-ranking jazz musician when they stray – however briefly – into the orbit of pop. The gravity of fame is just too strong to resist and the rewards of all that hype too tempting for a record company to pass up. Following an appearance on Kendrick Lamarr’s million-selling To Pimp a Butterfly, Washington has been hailed as a major jazz star by rock critics and he has found a large (and by definition non-jazz) audience for his grandiose reworkings of Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and Sun Ra. There are a hundred or so saxophonists around the world (including one or two in Ireland) with more to offer than Washington – more creative, more contemporary, more original – but they are not likely to be selling out the Olympia any time soon.
Michael Buckley’s House of Horns
Bruxelles, Dublin, 9pm, €10, bruxelles.ie
Saxophonist Michael Buckley has been a vital cog in Ireland’s musical machinery for the past three decades, as a much-in-demand sideman in rock and jazz, a leader of his own groups and latterly as a producer and much-respected studio guru. His House of Horns is a talent-rich nine-piece modelled after fusion groups such as the Brecker Brothers and Steps Ahead, blasting out tunes from Buckley’s entertaining 2013 release, It Is What It Is.
Various venues, Dublin; continues until Sunday 10th; improvisedmusic.ie
Irish audiences can be apathetic when it comes to the avant garde in music, but that may be changing not only because of new generations of musicians emerging domestically but also due to the welcome influx of creative music makers from around the world who are importing different artistic traditions and different attitudes to challenging sounds. The third annual Spectrum festival, programmed by the Improvised Music Company in association with Note Productions, is a blast of fresh air, exploring the ragged edges of jazz and free improv, with an ear-opening programme that includes German free saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, one of the giants of the post-war European avant garde, in duo with adventurous US pedal steel player Heather Leigh (Thursday); a rare Dublin appearance from under-rated Belfast composer Brian Irvine’s 13-piece ensemble (Friday; also appearing at Dolans, Limerick, Thursday 7th); a double bill from Dublin post-electro-rockers Alarmist and Finnish saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen’s Magnetia Orkestri (Saturday); and a chance to check out Dublin turntablist Djackulate, aka Jack McMahon, fresh from his victory at the prestigious world freestyle DJ championships in Berlin (Sunday). The faint-hearted should make alternative arrangements.