The legendary Guinness Cork Jazz Festival returns to Cork city this coming bank holiday for a mammoth 40th-year celebration. Featuring over 1,000 musicians in hundreds of music sessions citywide, it is one of the most anticipated Irish festivals. Described as "Europes biggest party", the city is holding its breath for the approximate 40,000 visitors (and their instruments and dancing shoes) expected to visit over the coming days. This year the stellar line-up includes international acts such as Memphis jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater, Grammy Award-winning Kenny Garrett, critically acclaimed Nicholas Payton & James Morrison as well as home-grown talent soul sensation Imelda May, plus a special presentation of the music from the biggest selling jazz album of all time, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue with Gary Crosby’s Nu Troop.
If you're planning a visit this year - or you've yet to experience the festival's swingin' vibes - here is our selection of who you should be beep-hopping, side-stepping, and slow-jamming to this coming bank holiday.
Who: Nicholas-Payton: Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
When: Saturday, October 28th at 8 PM
Where: the Everyman
Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, pianist, and composer Nicholas Payton is considered one of the top jazz musicians of our time. Hailed as a virtuoso before he was even out of high school in New Orleans, his unbridled talent has earned him praise and accolades, as well as assuring his place in jazz history. In addition to his work with artists ranging from Ray Charles, Dr John, Elvin Jones and Ray Brown, to Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, and Wayne Shorter, he is also one of the most successful bandleaders in jazz today. With MixTape he blends an array of related musical genres—Bebop, Swing, the Great American Songbook, New Orleans second-line, Rhythm & Blues, Urban, Hip Hop, and the Caribbean—into a focused sound that is entirely his own. Listen here and get tickets here.
Who: Imelda May
When: Sunday, October 29th at 6:30PM
Where: Cork Opera House
Ireland’s singing megastar Imelda May is back – and better than ever! If you are already an Imelda May fan, get ready to hear her as you never have before. Imelda has found a new groove, exploring blues, soul, gospel, folk, rock and cinematic drama on a set of the boldest, most personal and intimately autobiographical songs she has ever written. Long celebrated by her peers as one of the most sensational singers in contemporary music, May has made the album of her life and this will be the focus of the Cork Opera House concert. "I’ve called it Life Love Flesh Blood because that encompasses everything," says Imelda. "It’s all in there: birth, love, divorce, and death. It’s the story of my life." Expect the unexpected as Imelda performs with her powerhouse band for a Guinness Cork Jazz Festival highlight to remember. Listen to her music here and buy your tickets here.
When: Saturday, October 28th at 9:30 PM
Where: The Metropole Hotel
Metropolis is a four-piece Fusion Jazz ensemble from Dublin. Its members are Paul Barrett, Keith Donald, Garvan Gallagher and Paul McAteer. Metropolis was originally active in Dublin from 1978-1982. Their gigs included the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival and residencies in Dublin. When the members bumped into each other at an event in 2016, they decided to reform the band. The almost entirely new set from the band’s three writers is generating a lot of interest, as indicated by great turn-outs for their performances. Fans of their earlier jazz-rock and fusion set can still enjoy a few titles being played from their 1981 ‘Morning Shadows’ album. The quartet’s members have worked worldwide in the areas of rock, jazz, folk, and pop, playing with Louis Stewart, Noel Kelehan, Supply Demand and Curve, Quincy Jones, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, and Ozone.
The Alley Cats
Who: King Kong Company
When: Sunday, October 29th at 11:30 PM
Where: Cork Opera House
Critics and fans have been raving about King Kong Company in blogs, in tweets and in the fields of Ireland’s biggest festivals for years! Nominated Ireland’s Best Live Band last year, the Waterford crew take their supercharged show back to the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival after its tremendous success in 2016. The seven-piece sound more like a DJ than a band and Nialler9.com describes them as "festival favourites". Listen to them here and get your tickets here.
Who: Bad Girls Groove
When: Friday, October 27th at 11:45 PM
Where: The Metropole Hotel
This stunning headliner returns to the Festival Club at the Metropole Hotel by popular demand. Three female vocalists front this eight-piece band putting an original twist on funk, R&B and blues songs. They cover artists like Aretha Franklin and Chic right up to modern soul stars like Jill Scott, Joss Stone and Snarky Puppy. The strength lies in their musicality with plenty of smooth three-part harmonies, percussion breakdowns and impressive solos. A favourite with music-lovers, they can be found at venues like The Blues Kitchen (London), entertaining large crowds at events like Winter Wonderland (Hyde Park) and performing at festivals including the St. Louis Festival, Sete (France). Listen to their sensational covers here and grab your tickets here.
New Kids On The Beat
When: Friday, October 27th at 7:30 PM
Where: Cyprus Avenue
London born SOULÉ is a superb singer/songwriter now based in Dublin. At the beginning of 2015, she joined the major production collective Diffusion Lab and began recording music part-time, between classes in the Dublin Institute of Technology. Her influences include the likes of Erykah Badu, Macy Grey, Lauren Hill, ASA, Chrisette Michele, and Nneka. Soulé stands poised for the next big step. She has been nominated for a Choice Prize for her first single and is now ‘one of the hottest talents in this country’ according to Hot Press. Sample her electric rhythm here.
Who: Sue Rynhart Trio
When: Sunday, October 29th at 8 PM
Where: Triskel Christchurch
Dublin vocalist and composer Sue Rynhart is a lecturer at the Newpark Music Centre, Dublin on the Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance Degree Course. Sue’s debut album Crossings (Songs for Voice & Double Bass) received critical acclaim from national and international titles including The Sunday Times UK and acclaimed American music website 'all about Jazz'. Her latest album ‘Signals’ is currently setting new standards for contemporary Irish jazz with The Irish Times noting: "Songs that sound at once ancient and modern, with echoes of folk and early music, contemporary jazz and the avant-garde, recalling Bjork and a hint of Joni Mitchell." Sue has premiered works by composers from the Irish Composers Collective & the Contemporary Music Centre and has performed on BBC Radio with the Choir of Christchurch Cathedral Dublin. She has been featured extensively on Roisin Ingle’s Irish Times podcast ‘Roisin Meets’ and on Bernard Clarke’s award-winning radio programme Nova on RTE Lyric FM. Listen to 'Somewhere To Go' here and get your tickets here.