The week’s jazz highlights

Mark Guiliana’s downtown New York comes to the Sugar Club while the Derry Jazz Festival bags Kurt Rosenwinkel, the most influential jazz guitarist of the last quartet century


Sunday 29

 Jim Doherty Trio with Honor Heffernan & Brendan Doyle

Arthurs, Dublin, 4pm, €10,

Pianist Jim Doherty has been a corner piece of the Dublin jazz jigsaw since the 1960s when he led a trailblazing Irish band at the Montreux Jazz Festival. To hear him play today is to hear the history of the music, and Doherty’s own personal history, including his long association with guitarist Louis Stewart. Here his trio – with fellow Dublin jazz grandee Dave Fleming on bass and in-demand drummer Dominic Mullen – is augmented by peerless vocalist Honor Heffernan and first-call saxophonist Brendan Doyle.

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet

The Sugar Club, Dublin, 8pm, €20,

Those in the know already knew about Mark Guiliana back in 2016 when the US drummer’s career suddenly ascended to the stratosphere – for a jazz musician anyway - thanks to a phone call from a certain David Bowie. Guiliana’s appearance on the Blackstar album brought  the New Jersey native’s innovative approach to the drumset to a whole new audience, and there are stick wielders around the world now trying to imitate the way the 38-year-old transfers the grooves and patterns of techno to the acoustic drum set. For all that, Guiliana’s jazz quartet – with bassist Chris Morrissey, saxophonist Jason Rigby and pianist Fabian Almaza – is also rooted very much in the acoustic tradition of downtown New York and there is a freedom and bravery in the way this group plays that could never be replicated by a machine.


Workman’s Club, Dublin, 8pm, €10,

Fans of contemporary drumming are spoiled for choice tonight. Drummer, band leader and palindrome fetishist Matthew Jacobson is one of the most dynamic forces in Irish jazz on and off the stage, and his ReDiviDeR quartet – with trombonist Colm O’Hara, saxophonist Nick Roth and bassist Derek Whyte – is an exciting prospect for anyone who has already checked out Mark Guiliana (see above). Citing influences as diverse as legendary jazz composer Charles Mingus, San Francisco noise punksters Deerhoof and lion of the New York avant garde Tim Berne, Jacobson’s music bears out Liebniz’s famous proposition that music is the pleasure the mind takes from counting without realising it.

Thursday 3

City of Derry Jazz Festival

Continues till Monday 7th May, details at

The Derry Jazz Festival has been a fairly barren landscape for fans of contemporary jazz in the past, but in among the long list of tiresomely “hep” jazz-themed cabaret acts on this year’s programme, there are a few groups, both foreign and domestic, that will make a trip to the walled city worthwhile. On Thursday, rising Belfast pianist Scott Flanigan’s trio and singer Jamie Nanci Barron’s talent-rich quintet play a double bill in Magee University, and vocalist and composer Lauren Kinsella’s marvelous Snowpoet are in Bennigans. Guitarist Hugh Buckley and singer Aoife Doyle play a duo set at Bennigans on Friday evening, before US guitar giant  Kurt Rosenwinkel’s much anticipated appearance later in the evening (see below). Sunday sees UK trumpeter Laura Jurd’s forward-thinking Dinosaur band play the Playhouse and forceful US born saxophonist Meilana Gillard play a late show at Bennigans. Full details at

Friday 4

Bray Jazz Festival

Continues till Sunday 6th, details at

Since its inception 19 years ago, the Bray Jazz Festival has pursued a determinedly forward-looking artistic policy, giving Irish jazz listeners a chance to witness some of the innovators and influencers in the art form up close and in person. This year’s bill ticks those boxes yet again, with a bill that includes major names direct from the New York scene, living legends of European jazz, and some of the most influential musicians of the Brooklyn cutting edge, not to mention a well-curated survey of some of the bands currently animating the Irish jazz scene. The last time trumpeter Dave Douglas played in Bray, back in 2007, he liked his performance so much he released it as a record. He’s back on Saturday night with saxophone superstar Joe Lovano and Sound Prints, a starry band that also includes veteran drummer Joey Barron. Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson is a towering figure of the European scene, whose recordings for the ECM label span five decades, and his trio performance on Sunday night will be balm for the ears. As well as Barron, this year’s drummer feast includes two of New York’s most influential and idiosyncratic stick wielders, Tom Rainey – appearing with Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House 4 on Saturday night – and Jim Black, leading his own Malmute group on Sunday night. Also worth seeking out are Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger’s trio project, Norwegian solo tubist Daniel Herskedal, daring French harpist Laura Perudin and Belfast trumpeter Linley Hamilton’s lush large ensemble. Pick of the Ireland-based bands is probably guitarist Chris Guilfoyle’s superb Umbra project, but also check out singer Riona Sally Hartman, experimentalist Daniel Jacobson’s ZoiD and guitar surf monsters the Mushburgers.

David Lyttle Trio featuring Kurt Rosenwinkel

Bennigans, Derry, 8pm, £20/15,

Word began to spread a few months ago that Belfast drummer David Lyttle was importing guitar legend Kurt Rosenwinkel for a one-off gig in the tiny Bennigans bar during the Derry Jazz Festival. Surely not, they said. Rosenwinkel should be headlining in some big auditorium. But Lyttle’s instincts are spot on: the chance to hear hands-down the most influential jazz guitarist of the last quartet century in a room that hold less than a hundred people is usually only to be had in downtown New York and then at a price. The prospect of hearing Rosenwinkel’s gorgeous, attenuated melodic inventions in Bennigans will draw afficianados from near and far. And given the size of the venue, it’s a fair bet that if you haven’t already snaffled one of the hottest tickets in town, be prepared to stand outside and listen. 

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