The sixth edition of the Galway Jazz Festival is upon us, and once again Galway is in for some musical treats from across the globe and Ireland in the biggest festival to date.
Opening with a Tribute in Hotel Meyrick to trumpeter John Merrick of the West Coast Big Band, Galway’s two Big Bands - The Galway West Coast and the Black Magic Big Band will celebrate John’s contribution to jazz music in Galway with a big party of swinging good tunes. The best of Galwegian talent continues to be featured in the programme showing off the wealth of musicianship in the county. With the best music critics in the world likening her to Billie Holiday and Tom Waits, the festival starts with a name and talent befitting the calibre of music in Galway, singer Mary Coughlan will perform two intimate concerts in The Crane Bar following the two sell out shows in the summer.
Nun’s Island will resonate with the melodic sounds of Luxembourg’s vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher and his quartet. Hailing from a classical background, his compositions are deft and persuasive and are brought to the fore by a team of exceptional musicians - Belgian bassist Christophe Devisscher and Germans Florian Weber (piano) and Jens Düppe on drums. The venue will also host leaders of the piano trio Phil Ware Trio. Bassist Phil Redmond, drummer Kevin Brady and piano leader Phil Ware hold the flame for the genre in Ireland and it is fitting for them to be joined by twice recipient of the BBC Jazz Award for best vocalist, Ian Shaw.
Mashing up the notions of jazz in Monroe’s Live are Danish group from Copenhagen Ibrahim Electric. Described as Europe’s funkiest organ trio and sending all audiences from every genre into a spin throughout the continent, the trio use dirty distorted sounds from the Hammond B3, afrobeat inspired guitar riffs mixed with madness and ingenuity. Bring a party attitude to this gig! trioVD, the Leeds trio from the LIMA collective, are at the centre of where its at in improvised music. Falling somewhere between Meshuggah and The Thing, the three Chris’s are a rare ‘band’ on the jazz scene. They will be hitting The Crane Bar on Saturday evening and hit it with a bang they will!
Closing the festival in the Radisson Live Lounge is Chris Potter’s Underground from New York City. The Guardian have described him as “one of the best saxophonists on the planet” and with a CV that reads like a who’s who of international jazz, and music awards aplenty, the former Steely Dan musician is the undisputed champion of the great American tenor sax tradition. Underground features Adam Rogers on guitar and Craig Taborn at the Fender Rhodes – both are equally resourceful, spinning lines off the hip that continuously weave into the melodic and rhythmic loom and creating the challenging angles for Potter’s virtuoso saxophone to negotiate. Their most recent CD Ultrahang confirms their status as one of the hottest working groups in jazz today. Drummer Matt Jacobson’s RedivideR will join Underground for the finale of the festival. Unleashing some downtown grooves and improvisations informed by such eclectic sources as Tim Berne, Charles Mingus, and Squarepusher, the “two horns, no chords” set up gives a great peek into the current Irish jazz scene, with musicians like alto saxophonist Nick Roth, trombonist Colm O’Hara and bassist Derek Whyte in the quartet, the diagnosis of Irish jazz will be deemed very healthy indeed.
The festival also features a free jazz trail through local hotspots such as Busker Browne’s, Tigh Neachtains, Café 8, House Hotel, Artisan and Morgan’s Bar with special appearances by local musicians and festival musicians popping up around the town.