Bojan Zulfikarpasic Trio, John Field Room: The fourth concert in the Improvised Music Company/Jazz Architects' Series on the jazz piano trio unveiled, in Bojan Zulfikarpasic, one of the finest jazz pianists yet heard in the run. Serbian-born, French-based, he led a fine trio with similarly disparate origins; his extraordinary bassist, Olivier Sens, is French, and his highly capable drummer, Tony Robeson, comes from Madagascar.

Together they made some exhilarating music. Unsurprisingly, it also reflected the cultural diversity epitomised by the players. The first set alone contained, besides three originals by the pianist in The Joker, Groznjan Blue and CD-ROM, and one, D.H.Stuff, by the bassist, Zulfikarpasic's own arrangements of a Turkish piece, Cecen Kizi, by Tanburi Djemil Bey, and a Bulgarian traditional melody, Bugarski Waltz.

The trio showed its worth in what was basically a straight-ahead first set spiced with unusual time signatures which, however they might have seemed exotic initially, were handled with constantly swinging aplomb.

The catalyst was invariably Zulfikarpasic. His time, touch and facility were remarkable, as was his sense of drama, contrast and dynamics. Most of all, he had such a vast well of personal ideas to draw on that that he never seemed at a loss for inspiration; as a result, his solos were a constant delight.

Equally responsive in what is clearly a working group were his colleagues. Sens is a great player, with a big, full sound, incredible technique and time, and a sure feel for the group needs; add to that the ability to solo superbly and you have the complete jazz bassist. And Rabeson, less spectacular than the others, was ideal for the rich mixture provided by his partners.

The second set pushed the boundaries out somewhat further. Frequent use of vamps allowed them to play around even more freely with ideas and time, developing and releasing tension; Zulfikarpasic's Allergia, with its beautifully graded ending, was a case in point. A night to savour.

By Ray Comiskey

Backwater 2003

Triskel Arts Centre, Cork

This exhibition presents artwork from members of the Backwater Artists Group in Cork. The selection reflects the fact that BAG is not overly influenced by a presiding house style. However, the selector, Eilis Ó Baoill, does recognise a "quiet lyricism" as a curatorial link of sorts. This quality is most noticeable in gallery one, with the delicately poised video projection Aurelia by Tanya de Paor gracefully segueing aquatic and human forms together. Christopher Samuels's series of small bronze self-portraits are engaging studies which convey a sense of animation in a static medium.

In gallery two, the artworks offer a united front as the majority revolve around human or figurative subjects. Susy O'Mullane's charcoal drawing of a reclining nude uses tonal detail selectively, rendering most of the figure in outline. This characteristic is also present in Eileen Healy's drawing and serves as a device to concentrate the viewer on the wonderfully-modelled tone of the features. Megan Eustace's nude is the opposite in terms of treatment, with subtle tones expressing the form, while Mags Geaney's figures have a pallid, ghostly presence.

The figure has a similarly sinister context in Eilis Ní Fhaoláin's carved and painted wall-piece Origin. Here, a girl with two ravens as companions stares toward the viewer with a cold detachment reminiscent of The Omen. Kevin Holland's cat hybrid sports a terrifying claw which should not to be trifled with, while Deirdre O'Brien's atmospheric landscape view burns with a seductive russet colour range.

Runs until April 17th, then at the Clotworthy Arts Centre from July 4th to August 3rd

By Mark Ewart

Public Enemy

Vicar Street, Dublin

Having dropped under the commercial radar in the mid-1990s, at a time when an increasingly anodyne brand of hip-hop moved into the mainstream, Public Enemy are clamouring again and back fighting the power with renewed passion.

In a marathon show which encompassed every shade of PE's complex personae through the band's 15 years of fame, Chuck D, Flava Flav, Professor Griff, DJ Lord (taking up the place of Terminator X on the decks) and a three-piece "blacking" band returned to Dublin and delivered a set that showed just how much space there is and always has been between originators PE and the rest of the hip-hop world.

Opening the set with a new track, Put It Up, Chuck D prowled the stage hidden beneath the hood of a yellow rain mack and delivered a no-holds-barred rant about the power and primacy and persistence of Public Enemy, an opening salvo designed to announce their return with typical hip-hip audacity. As the set warmed up, classic Public Enemy rubbed shoulders with tracks from the new album. The crossover hit with honky rockers Anthrax, Bring the Noise, bumped up against a vitriolic rant from their latest album, Revolverlution, called Son of a Bush, with its chant "He's the son of a bad man". Politics are never far from Chuck's mind and when he delivers his brand of it, it's the musical equivalent of taking a drubbing from Mike Tyson. A cover of Edwin Starr's War added to the charged-up political atmosphere, while past hits 911 Is A Joke, Brothers Gonna Work It Out, Can't Do Nuttin' for Ya Man, Fight The Power and Don't Believe The Hype further evoked the impassioned PE world-view and delivered messages that are eerily applicable to the present.

Maybe we should look to an ever more consolidated, short-sighted music industry, or perhaps the return of a Republican president to the White House, because something's got Chuck D back in fighting form. And alongside is Flava Flav, still playing the jester to Chuck's brooding straight-man, but by no means playing the fool. Believe the hype.

By John Lane