Cork gets into the groove for jazz festival


THE JAZZ purist is still well catered for at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival despite a broadening of the programme as audience tastes change, according to the organisers of the event.

Festival director Jack McGouran said jazz aficionados were proving to be particularly impressed with this year’s line-up.

“Everyone seems to be very happy. I think that is seen by the number of overseas people coming in to the festival for the purist sessions. There is more than enough for the purist.”

The four-day festival, which ends today, featured more than 1,000 musicians from 22 countries. It involved 400 performances in more than 50 venues throughout Cork including the Gresham Metropole Hotel, Everyman Palace Theatre and Cork Opera House.

Highlights included performances from New York hip-hop trio De La Soul and a double bill at the Everyman Palace Theatre from Grammy winner Roy Hargrove and Grammy-nominated Gregory Porter.

Porter’s 2010 debut album, Water, was nominated for a Grammy for best jazz vocal album. The 40-year-old’s latest release, Be Good, topped the iTunes charts in Britain, France, Germany and Italy.

As a younger man Porter attended San Diego State University on a football scholarship until a shoulder injury sidelined him permanently. He subsequently pursued his passion for music.

Other highlights of the festival included performances from Natalie Williams, who hosts her own monthly event at London’s famous Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, and a double bill at the Triskel Christchurch comprising jazz trio Phronesis and acclaimed US saxophonist David Binney.

Music lovers also availed of the Guinness Music Trail, which featured more than 50 venues showcasing a range of music styles including jazz, blues, funk and Dixieland. Top names appearing on the trail included the James Taylor Quartet, the Lee Hedley Band and the Roaring Forties.

Over the years the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival has featured a galaxy of jazz greats, including Ella Fitzgerald, BB King, George Shearing, Cleo Laine, Art Blakey and Mel Tormé.

The festival first took place in 1978. Jazz buff Pearse Harvey suggested a jazz festival as a last-minute replacement for a cancelled bridge tournament. The then marketing manager at the Metropole Hotel, Jim Mountjoy, agreed with his proposition and Player Wills sponsored the event to the tune of £5,000.