The week’s best live jazz: From Catherine Sikora to The Commons

Cork saxophonist Sikora is joined by former Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase

West Cork saxophonist Catherine Sikora and New York drummer Brian Chase

West Cork saxophonist Catherine Sikora and New York drummer Brian Chase

 

SATURDAY, MARCH 30

The Commons
Mick Lally Theatre (11am, No CC) & St Nicholas’s Church (8pm, €10), Galway, thegalwaymusicresidency.ie
The Commons ensemble grew out of a panel discussion at last year’s Galway Jazz Festival where artists and stakeholders were asked to explore the musical ramifications of Brexit. London-born Dublin-resident saxophonist Nick Roth, a musician with a foot in the music scenes of both islands, has brought together an octet drawn from across Britain and Ireland to tease out some of the musical ties that unite us. “There is something deeper inside the musical traditions of these islands,” says Roth. “What we call an Irish song here, they call a Scottish song there. Music has always washed across these islands like a tide.” The front rank group includes Welsh pianist Huw Warren, English trumpeter Neil Yates, Scottish trombonist Kieran Mcleod and Galway clarinetist and festival curator Matthew Berrill. 

Kevin Lawlor Quartet
The Sky and the Ground, Wexford, 6pm, €10, kevinlawlor.com
Saxophonist Sonny Rollins famously took a sabbatical from performing in the late 1950s and spent his days practising on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York. It is an act of dedication and artistic purity that has inspired generations of jazz musicians ever since, including Wexford drummer Kevin Lawlor, who leads his quartet with saxophonist Kelan Walsh, pianist Pat Molitar and bassist Peter Vogelaar, through a set of tunes associated with the great saxophonist.

SUNDAY 31

Slapbang
Workman’s Club, Dublin, 7.30pm, €10, facebook.com/dublinjazzcoop
The Dublin Jazz Co-Op series, set in a wonderfully atmospheric room overlooking the Liffey, is important not just because it’s a chance to check in with what’s happening on the creative music scene in Ireland, but also because it is “guest-curated” by artists from within that scene, so the artistic policy is a moving target. For the next six weeks, the curating baton passes to Berri vocalist Jenna Harris – the first woman to graduate from Newpark’s jazz degree programme – and the fearless singer has lined up an admirably diverse roster of performers, starting with an experimental duo featuring classically trained Australian flautist Lina Andonovska and mercurial Irish drummer Matthew Jacobson. Not necessarily for the faint of heart, but for the curious of ear there are few better things to do with a Sunday evening in Dublin.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3

Catherine Sikora & Brian Chase
The Spirit Store, Dundalk (Wednesday 3rd); Sonic Lab, Belfast (Thursday 4th, 1pm); Hole in the Wall, Kilkenny (Thursday 4th  9pm); Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh (Friday 5th); Visual, Carlow (Saturday 6th); Fumbally Stables, Dublin (Sunday 7th), note.ie
Saxophonist Catherine Sikora was born and raised in west Cork, but she first rose to prominence on the febrile New York free improv scene in the early noughties. It was there that she began collaborating with drummer Brian Chase, best known as one third of Brooklyn rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who joins her for this Irish tour. The experimental duo’s debut album, recorded in New York in 2016, took Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf translation as the starting point for a series of improvisations that blend spontaneous lyricism and visceral noise, and adventurous listeners can expect more of the same. Sikora’s return a couple of years ago to her native west Cork added a new feral register to sound of Irish jazz, more or less singlehandedly doubling the number of free saxophonists on the island in the process.

Sara Oschlag Quartet feat Hugh Buckley
Arthurs, Dublin, 8.30pm, €10, arthurspub.ie
Vocalist Sara Oschlag knows how to find her own way through well-worn standards. The Danish-born singer arrives in Ireland this week with Belfast drummer Darren Beckett, a powerful rhythmic force whose credits include stints on the road with singer Madeleine Peyroux and Brandon Flowers of the Killers. Joining them and Brighton bassist Dan Sheppard for what promises to be a night of hard-swinging music is much-loved Dublin guitarist Hugh Buckley.

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