SIOBHÁN LONG Saturday 1
Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh
The Sea Lodge Hotel, Waterville This fiddle, concertina and dance duo are guests of this Éigse na Brídeoige festival in south Kerry, where one of our earliest feminists, St Brigid, is remembered and celebrated annually. Nic Gabhann and Ó Maonaigh have a well-established partnership, and know how to allow space and light to suffuse their tunes, with Nic Gabhann’s dance steps lending a percussive force to some that adds further propulsion to their music.
Cór Ban Chúil Aodha & Peadar Ó Riada
Ionad Cultúrtha, Ballyvourney
This all-female choir, founded by Peadar Ó Riada in 1985, gathers to mark St Brigid’s Day in their native Cúl Aodha, and will premiere material from their forthcoming third album. Their repertoire is eclectic, and includes two extensive works by Ó Riada: Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoighre and Laoi na Laoithe.
The West Ocean String Quartet Cultúrlann Uí Chanáin, Derry Warming up in advance of the release of their new album, The West Ocean String Quartet marks its 20th anniversary this year with an innovative series of concerts celebrating the traditional music of Ireland’s Atlantic coast. Their chosen repertoire has been curated from the broad musical spectrum of this region – from the swinging barn dances of west Donegal down to the grand song-airs and rousing polkas of Kerry. Arranged by the quartet’s cellist, Neil Martin, this will be their first chance to perform the music within the coastal communities and islands that inspired it.
Kristyn Fontanella Dance presents In LiMBO
This ensemble of six dancers, accompanied by four musicians interrogate the forms of Irish dance which many feel they already know intimately, in search of new modes of expression. American-born choreographer Fontanella is a veteran of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.
The Fiddle Case
DC Music Club, Camden Row, Dublin Bouzouki player Eoin O’Neill is joined by a trio of musicians who meld straight-up trad with a heady mix of tunes well suited to a fiery jamming session. O’Neill’s compadres tonight are double bassist Jon O’Connell, fiddle player Adam Shapiro and Kieran O’Connell on bodhrán, guitar and voice.
CORMAC LARKIN Saturday 1
Dirty Jazz Club
The Dirty Jazz Club session at
Arthurs on the first Saturday of every month is one of the city’s most popular jazz residencies, and there’s a good reason for that. The talented group – drummer Conor Murray, keyboardist Darragh O’Kelly, bassist Derek Whyte, trumpeter Bill Blackmore, trombonist Colm O’Hara, saxophonist Cathal Roche – have been playing together for years, so there is a level of understanding and empathy in the group that means they can take well-loved tunes by Miles Davis, Joe Zawinul and others and make them their own. It’s the sort of long-running residency that people will nod sagely about in years to come and say they were there, even if they weren’t. Claim the high ground in that future conversation by, y’know, actually going.
Dublin Jazz Co-Op: Re:Ellington Workman’s Club, Dublin
Since his death in 1974, successive generations of jazz musicians have been excavating the music of the great Duke Ellington and proving that there is still plenty of road left in the Ellington journey. Re:Ellington is a collaborative project featuring six of the Irish scene’s most accomplished improvisers – clarinettist Matt Berrill, saxophonist Nick Roth, trombonist Paul Dunlea, pianist Greg Felton, bassist Derek Whyte and drummer Matthew Jacobson – who have each re-arranged or entirely re-imagined an Ellington composition for the group. Interwoven with fragments of interviews with the great composer, the set includes lesser played Ellingtonia like Afrique and African Flower, as well as favourites like I’m Beginning to See the Light and Caravan. Bands with three horns, particularly of this quality, are rare on Dublin stages, and there will be plenty here to delight both Ellington fans and those with more contemporary tastes.
Zandra, Queen of Jazz
Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin (also Monday, February 3rd)
Zandra Mitchell, born in Phibsborough in 1903, was Ireland’s first international jazz star, touring Europe in the 1920s, appearing on the same stage as Coleman Hawkins and Django Reinhardt, and even leading her own band, Baby Mitchell and her Original Queens of Jazz, in Berlin during the 1930s. Roseanne Lynch’s musical theatre work, reclaiming this largely forgotten star of Irish jazz, sold out its seven show run at Smock Alley last November, so here’s another chance – two in fact – to catch Zandra, Queen of Jazz, directed by Katherine Soloviev with music by Richard Lennon.
Alina Bzhezhinska Quartet
Sugar Club, Dublin (also Triskel, Cork, Thurs 6th; Mermaid, Bray, Fri 7th; Courthouse, Tinahely, Sat 8th; St. Peter Church, Portlaoise, Sun 9th; Station House, Clifden, Mon 10th; National Opera House, Wexford, Wed 12th; Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, Thurs 13th; Glór, Ennis, Fri 14th; Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Sat 15th) Delicate, unwieldy, and hard to drag upstairs, the harp is the rarest of instruments in jazz. Still, US pioneers like Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane found space in the devil’s music for the instrument of the angels back in the 1960s, and there are a few contemporary exponents, notably Colombian harpist Edmar Casteneda, who played a Music Network tour back in 2013. It must have gone well because Music Network are back with a 10-date tour from another jazz harpist, Alina Bzhezhinska. Based in London, Bzhezhinska has been winning praise recently for her work in reclaiming the music of Alice Coltrane. She lands in Ireland this week with her own powerful quartet that features saxophonist Tony Kofi, bassist Larry Bartley and drummer Joel Prime.
Guitarist Shane Latimer is one of the Dublin scene’s most intrepid musicians, a sonic pioneer whose musical journey has taken him to the edges of abstraction. A member of Dublin electro-jazz hipsters OKO and co-founder of the Bottlenote festival, Latimer has latterly been performed his absorbing solo show internationally, blending his guitar with electronic glitchscapes and live sound processing. But when he moved house recently, the guitarist rediscovered the records that started him down the jazz guitar road in the first place by artists like Grant Green, Kenny Burrell and Jimmy Ponder, and he decided he needed to reconnect with what he calls “the organ funky stuff” that had originally inspired him. The muscular new band that he has assembled to help him – named for a lesser known Grant Green album – includes some of the funkiest, most fearless players on the Dublin scene, including keyboardist Darragh O’Kelly, saxophonist Nick Roth, bassist Sean Maynard-Smith and drummer Brendan Doherty.
Signal Series: Big Spoon/ ÄTSCH Arthurs, Dublin
Subtitled “New Directions in Irish Jazz”, the monthly Signal Series, curated by the Improvised Music Company, showcases the working bands and performers who are writing the next chapters in Irish jazz. This month’s double bill features Cape Town saxophonist Chris Engel’s Big Spoon, a riotous electro-acoustic ensemble drawing on Weather Report and EDM in equal measure, with Darragh O’Kelly on keyboards, Shane O’Donovan on electronics and Matthew Jacobson on drums. Also on the bill, guitarist Mathias Winkler’s sweetly melodic quartet ÄTSCH with pianist Graeme Bourke, bassist Eoin O’Halloran and drummer Hugh Denman.
Spike Cello Festival
Lost Lane & various venues, Dublin The fact that it can be listed here under the j-word is evidence enough of the reach and ambition of the Spike Cello Festival, now in its fourth year. Programmed by Irish cello evangelists Lioba Petri and Mary Barnecut, Spike is a daring bid for genre freedom for this gorgeous instrument, filling the city over the weekend with music that defies category and challenges hidebound notions about the role of the cello in contemporary creative music. The three main evening concerts in Lost Lane feature the extraordinary South African cellist Abel Selaocoe plus Celtic cellist Clíodhna Ní Aodáin (Friday); experimental Icelandic cellist Gyða Valtýsdóttir and her band plus Kate Ellis & Caimin Gilmore performing a new piece by composer Sam Perkin (Saturday); and a one-off cello formation of Dublin ensemble Glasshouse plus Two Versus featuring Belfast vocalist Suzanne Savage and New Zealand cellist Hugo Smit (Sunday). There are also various workshops (including one on improvisation from Selaocoe on Saturday afternoon), events for children in Temple Bar’s Ark, yocella (yoga and live cello, I kid you not), and a series of free performances in the Hugh Lane Gallery on Sunday, including a noon performance by principle cellist with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Christian Elliott.
Jim Doherty & Nigel Mooney John Field Room, NCH, Dublin (also Arthurs, Dublin, Saturday 8th) Pianist Jim Doherty and guitarist Nigel Mooney are two of the most senior old-school players on the Irish jazz scene, lovers of swing and keepers of the be-bop flame. Doherty, in particular, is a central figure in Irish jazz history, whose long association with the legendary Louis Stewart began when he auditioned the guitarist for his first ever gig in 1960 and only ended when the two old friends recorded an album together, just months before the great guitarist’s death in 2016. This week, Mooney joins Doherty’s longstanding trio with eminent bassist Dave Fleming and classy drummer Myles Drennan for a lunchtime concert in the John Field Room on Friday. Then Doherty returns the favour in Arthur’s on Saturday night joining Mooney’s own next generation rhythm section of bassist Barry Donohue and drummer Dominic Mullan.
Workman’s Club, Dublin
The Dublin Jazz Co-Op operates a rolling curator policy and the current programmer of this intimate salon of the new is American-born composer and musician Ethan Edwards. Edwards’ own music inhabits the space where improvisation and composition meet – a space he calls the “halocline” of music (look it up) – and he offers no apologies for pushing the Co-Op’s curatorial envelope a little further this Sunday with Sonas, a classical duo featuring cellist Davide Forti and pianist Francesca De Nardi. As well as pieces by Stradella and Xenakis, the award-winning duo will perform new works by Edwards himself and by leading Irish jazz composer Ronan Guilfoyle. So go on, dip a toe in the halocline (seriously, look it up)
Alina Bzhezhinska, Sugar Club, Dublin, Wednesday and on tour.