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Bray Jazz Festival 2018

Bray Jazz Festival 2018

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Bray Jazz Festival
Various Venues
Bray, Ireland
May 4-6, 2018

From the hilltop vantage point the Irish Sea lies veiled under a blanket of thick mist. Greystones, five miles to the right, birthplace of the great Christy Doran, peeks out, seemingly floating above the misty clouds like a Roger Dean gatefold. Away to the left, across rocky fields studded with yellow heather, a giant cross marks Bray Head—a pilgrimage site for many during this May holiday weekend. Down below, facing the Irish Sea longer than any other town in Ireland, lies Bray, itself an annual destination for pilgrims of another kind -jazz musicians and their followers.

Bray Jazz Festival returned for its nineteenth year with perhaps its strongest international programme to date, selling out the main theatre three nights in a row and drawing good crowds to the smaller venues around town for the numerous fringe events on the Wicklow Wolf Trail. The wolf logo of the local micro-brewery stands out from the BJF's sponsors' banner, but it's the twenty three sponsors' logos in their totality, from transport systems to hotels, from embassies to arts-funding bodies, from restaurants and bars to the tourism office and national media that hint at how many people are crucial to the staging of the BJF and how much juggling festival directors Dorothy and George Jacob are required to do to pull it off year after year. And pull it off in style they manage to do every year.

BJF 2018 saw heavyweight American and European jazz names such as Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas, Bobo Stenson and Ernst Reijseger line up alongside some of the best in Irish jazz/improvised music—Tommy Halferty, Linley Hamilton, Cora Venus Lunny and Colm O'Hara. There were outstanding solo acts of uncommon lyricism in Daniel Herskedal and Laura Perrudin Quartet, coruscating experimental jazz from New York in the form of Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House and Jim Black's quartet, and vocal jazz/R&B from China Moses.

The Irish jazz/related music scene in all its diversity was represented on the Harbour Stage and in the multiple venues of the Wicklow Wolf Jazz Trail. Singers Riona Sally Hartman and Aoife Doyle, Chris Guilfoyle 's quintet Umbra, jazz-punk outfit Vernon Jane, veteran guitarists Mike Nielsen and Hugh Buckley, the acoustic guitar duo of Julien Colarossi and John Keogh, solo piano from Leopoldo Osio, the electronic/experimental soundscapes of Daniel Jacobsen's Zoid—amongst others—represented just the tip of the Irish jazz iceberg.

And, after a winter that seemed to last for about seven months, the sun finally visited this small corner of the planet, putting smiles on everybody's faces for the traditional holiday weekend.

Day One

Cora Venus Lunny & Colm O'Hara

Bray's Town Hall was the intimate venue for the opening concert of BJF 2018. Violinist Cora Venus Lunny is equally at home in classical, Irish folk and experimental music and is a captivating solo performer as her solo recording Terminus (Conscientae) (Diatribe Records, 2014) demonstrated. Colm O'Hara's background is more rooted in jazz, having played with Dave Liebman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne and Bobo Stenson, though his work with Thought Fox, ReDivideDer and Yurodny points to more eclectic tastes. Both musicians are fine improvisers as this three-part suite of improvised dialog proved.

Lunny had shown fiery improvisational chops alongside Izumi Kimura at the inaugural BAN BAM festival in Dublin the previous December but this performance with O'Hara was, for the most part, a more brooding, meditative affair, spiked with the occasional edgy, potent exchanges. Lunny dealt pizzicato riffs and rising-falling legato phrasing, while O'Hara's undulating drones, oddly strangled voicing and bass profundo growls offered contrasting colors.

At times the duo was locked in harmonious unison, at other times each pursued separate yet parallel courses, the intense concentration etched in their body language. At their most expansive Lunny and O'Hara's dialog flowed compellingly, but the music was just as engaging when at its most minimal—the duo conjuring darkly cinematic soundscapes.

At just under forty five minutes this was a short set by conventional standards but for improvised conversations as emotionally intense as these, this was a generous offering from two progressively minded musicians who surely have more stories to tell together.

China Moses

China Moses has been around longer than you might think, making her recording debut in 1997 with China (Source/Virgin). Moses has dedicated a lot of the intervening years paying homage to female blues and jazz singers but it's only with Nightintales (MPS Records, 2017) that she has stepped out as a songwriter in her own right. It's been a liberating move that has won her international acclaim.

In her first visit to Ireland Moses wove jazz-funk, R&B, blues and soul in a vibrant tapestry, with pianist Ashley Henry, bassist Neil Charles and drummer Marius Alexa providing grooving support. Moses exuded charisma, evoking a smouldering cross between Tina Turner and Eartha Kit on the sultry, slow burner "Put It on the Line" and the powerful neo-soul of "Breaking Point," the latter which featured a fine piano solo from Henry—one of the most promising pianists on the UK jazz scene.

At times Moses' pre-song banter went on a tad too long, with the preamble to the Billie Holiday-esque slow blues "Whatever" almost as long as the song itself. Henry's mesmerizing, rhapsodic solo here, and another impressive outing on the lively "My Part of Town," a soul-jazz tour de force were highlights of the set. That Moses afforded all her musicians such extended time in the spotlight underlined the fact that hers is a proper band and not just a supporting vehicle for her own considerable vocal chops.

There was some Cab Calloway-esque singalong scatting on "Hungover" and further audience participation on "Running" as Moses orchestrated the audience with her easy charm. There was no shortage of energy from Moses and her band but you couldn't help thinking that an engaging set could have had more impact with less chat and more of what she does best.

Trio Reijseger, Fraanje, Sylla

Making a welcome return to Ireland following its appearance at Dublin's one-off April Jazz festival in 2015, Ernst Reijseger, Harmen Fraanje and Ernst Reijseger, Harmen Fraanje, Mola Sylla closed day one of BJF 2018 with a spellbinding performance in the atmospheric surroundings of the old Methodist Church. Cellist Reijseger's highly original project has to date released two recordings on the Winter & Winter label -Down Deep (2013) and Count Till Zen (2015). Beautiful efforts both, it is however in the live arena that the music really comes to life, with cellist Reijseger's jaw-dropping virtuosity staggering to behold.

The trio began with "Perhaps," with Reijseger's gently chugging rhythm—his cello played horizontally like a guitar—and Frannje's light, sparkling piano embellishments underpinning Sylla's West African vocals and thumb piano ostinato. For "Bakou" Sylla switched to the four-stringed xalam, strumming a simple rhythm on this ancient instrument common to many African countries and widely considered to be the forerunner of the banjo. His haunting vocal was lifted harmonically by Reijseger and Fraanje, the former playing his cello like a bass, the latter enjoying greater freedom with delightful scurrying runs.

Perhaps the highlight of an absorbing set was "Badola"; circling piano and cello motifs combined with Sylla's percussive panoply to establish a platform from which Reijseger launched an impassioned solo that would have made any electric guitarist blush with envy. Sylla then made his way slowly around the church blowing a horn before, coming full circle and singing like a man possessed with the blues into the guts of the grand piano-his voice resonating off wood, metal and string.

Reijseger gave further demonstration of his extraordinary virtuosity with an extended cello solo. Utilizing pegs to dampen the strings his lightning-fast runs embraced techniques more akin to double bass and guitar, alternatively slapping and fingering the strings with breathless fluidity. Worth checking out Reijseger's solo album Crystal Palace (Winter & Winter, 2014)—an outstanding cello suite of immense imagination—to hear just what this musican can conjure with the cello.

For all the individual brilliance, however, it was the trio in harness that provided the most uplifting music. Lyrical, classically-hued cello, jazz-tinged piano improvisations, shamanistic percussive stirrings and Sylla's yearning lamentation fused in a new number that was as graceful as it was moving. The concert closed with Sylla's vocals soaring on a sunny, West African flavored number of dancing rhythms. A standing ovation and prolonged applause summoned the trio back on stage. Reijseger's sawing cello served as the backdrop for Sylla's sombre, introspective vocals, while Fraanje's spare accompaniment lent sympathetic gravitas. Sudden vocals crescendos felt like explosions, the energy dissipating just as quickly. When the music finally ceased the three musicians left the stage but something of their musical poetry remained with the quietly elated audience.

Day Two

Linley Hamilton, Cian Boylan and The Camden Orchestra

"Good things happen to good people," jazz promoter Dominic Reily told the audience by way of introduction to Linley Hamilton's afternoon concert, which kick-started the second day of BJF 2018. In his multiple roles as BBC broadcaster, university lecturer and bandleader, Hamilton is arguably the hardest-working jazz musician in the Wild West that is Ireland, endlessly criss-crossing the country—trumpet and sheet music in tow—like a character from Wacky Races. A tireless advocate for jazz and its practitioners, particularly the upcoming talent, Hamilton has given much to the music. Now it seems, with Making Other Arrangements (Teddy D Records, 2018) poised for international exposure, the music is giving Hamilton something back.

Having played the very first edition of Bray Jazz Festival trumpeter Hamilton returned with a large ensemble of eighteen musicians for the live premiere of Making Other Arrangements. This project had been a quarter of a century in the making since Hamilton first heard Freddie Hubbard's orchestrally buoyed album Ride Like The Wind (Elektra/Musician, 1982)—vowing then that one day he would realize a similarly inspired work.

With pianist/arranger Cian Boylan, the twelve-piece string ensemble and a crack unit of some of Ireland's best jazz musicians crammed onto the creaking stage of the Parochial Hall, Hamilton led a programme of classic tunes from the popular standard repertoire before a full house. Hamilton's total command of his instrument was evident from the off; on Artie Butler's "Here's to Life" and Hubbard's "Brigitte" both his balladry and his more robust soloing were characterized by the warmth of his tone. Hamilton however, surrounds himself with great players, and there were also telling individual contributions from saxophonists Ben Castle and Brendan Doyle— who both doubled on woodwinds— Nigel Clarke on guitar, drummer Guy Rickarby, and switching between double and electric bass, Dave Redmond.

Hamilton switched to flugelhorn on a gorgeous rendition of James Taylor's ballad "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight." Covered in the past by Michael Brecker, James Moody and George Benson, this song's adoption by jazz musicians is indicative of the shift towards a modernizing of the interpretative repertoire. Increasingly, singer-songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Paul Simon and bands like Radiohead are providing grist to the mill of jazz musicians and making elbow room alongside the classics of The Great American songbook. Hamilton's lovely trumpet-and-strings interpretation of Earth Wind and Fire's "After the Love Has Gone" and Michel Legrand's "What are you Doing the Rest of your Life?" were further proof of that.

Elegant tribute to jazz giants Dizzy Gillespie and Abdullah Ibrahim came with "Con Alma" and an exquisite version of "Joan Capetown Flower." A couple of original tunes also stood out; the slinky, Henri Mancini-esque jazz-funk of Boylan's "Cat and Mouse" and guest vocalist Dana Masters's "Because of You"—an infectious slice of grooving R&B that has huge summer hit written all over it. Masters took to the stage on several occasions, injecting some Southern Carolina soul into proceedings. Her rousing performance on Frank Golde/Peter Ivers "Louisiana Sunday Afternoon," with Hamilton in inspired form, was a set highlight.

The concert closed with, "Carmel," a striking tune written by Hamilton's wife Maggie Doyle. To the surprise of all, dancer Nadine Hegarty—Director of Fireworks Dance Drama and Theatre Academy in Derry—sprang from the wings and improvised a stunning jazz-cum-ballet dance in front of the unsuspecting audience. The poetic weave of music and dance provided a fitting finale to a memorable concert. A standing ovation ensued.

Hamilton's Making Other Arrangements is on the road for the rest of this year and next, with shows in Ireland, the UK, Italy, Canada and South Africa already on the cards. It is, as Hamilton's manger Dominic Reily intimated at the start of the afternoon, the wider exposure that this extremely talented trumpeter has long deserved. Good things indeed.

Daniel Herskedal

Bray Jazz 2018 boasted a number of mouth-watering small combos but it was the solo performance by Norwegian tubist Daniel Herskedal that was arguably the gig of the festival. In the past decade Herskedal has released a number of fascinating records in a variety of settings but none more so than as a leader in his own right. For this solo performance in Bray's Town Hall Herskedal interpreted music from his two most recent Edition Records albums, Slow Eastbound Train (2015) and ROC (2017), as well as airing newly minted compositions.

From the opening notes of the hymnal meditation "Folksong to Var Herskedal served notice of his unique voice, singing wordlessly into the tuba to eerily atmospheric effect. The technique, in essence, recalled that of multi-reedsman Dewey Redman. The former Ornette Coleman sideman received unsympathetic criticism from the predominantly white jazz press in the 1960s and 1970s, who generally saw it as either a gimmick or senseless noise, but fortunately for Herskedal we live in more tolerant musical times. Musically at least.

Travels in Syria, Palestine and Lebanon were the inspiration behind ROC and with a loop station holding a low drone Herskedal turned to the bass trumpet to play the haunting melody to "Kurd Bayat." In his spare delivery lay the beauty and sadness of an eternally troubled region. An improvisation based on the Arabic scale hijaz evoked the early morning call of the mosque—lulling and imploring in turn—before bursting into a pulsating passage that could have come from Rabih Abou-Khalil's pen.

Bass trumpet represented the sound of the sea on the gently lyrical "Sea Breeze Front"—only the second time Herskedal has played this tune live. So suggestive of place are Herskedal's compositions in general that it's surprising he hasn't received invitations to write for the big screen. That changed recently, Herskedal told the Bray Town Hall audience, when a phone call out of the blue from Brad Pitt's production company resulted in his writing the theme for the forthcoming film The Last Black Man In San Francisco (2019); his sublime arrangement of John Phillips/The Mamas and Papas hippy anthem "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" raised the hairs of the back of neck. A great advertisement for the film, it's likely to bring Herskedal's music to a much larger audience.

Tribute to another city came with the vibrant vignette "Rio de Janeiro," Herskedal's tuba capturing the vibrancy of the metropolis' rhythms. Two exceptional tunes closed out the set: the infectious "Minstrel Noir," with its looped motif and caressing bass trumpet rubato phrasing, and the encore, "Cultural Heirlooms"—a softly regal version of a tune from Mojhtestasse (2018), Herskedal's collaboration with Sami singer Marja Mortensson and Jakop Janssonn.

Herskedal has an innate feel for folk music in its broadest sense—the landscapes, the sonic textures of language and places and the inner rhythms and emotions that they invoke. A special concert that will not be forgotten easily by those lucky enough to attend.

Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Quintet: Sound Prints

Begun as a tribute to Wayne Shorter, Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano's quintet Sound Prints was playing its first gig on a European tour to promote Scandal (Greenleaf Records, 2018), the follow-up to its eponymous live recording from 2013. Sound Prints is a play on Shorter's classic title "Footprints" and while the legendary saxophonist's spirit ghosted in and out it was the strength of the individual and collective personality of the quintet that shone brightest.

Lawrence Fields, Linda May Han Oh and Joey Baron formed a formidable rhythm team, driving the co-leaders on the lively opener "Dream State." May Han Oh, recently seen in Ireland with Pat Metheny's quartet, is one of the most arresting bassists in contemporary jazz, and her lithe playing on the slower "Full Moon" was every bit as captivating as the solos from Lovano, Douglas and Fields. Fascinating too, to observe the chemistry between the bassist and the wily Barron, who worked his kit with equal measures effervescence and subtlety.

Douglas arrangement of Shorter's "Fee Fi Fo Fum" was close in spirit not just to the original composition but to the Blue Note sound back in the day, with the twin horns dovetailing freely and plying harmonically bright unison lines. The Blue Note sound was perhaps unsurprising, not just for the Shorter connection, but also given that Lovano has released around twenty of his own albums on the same label. It was Lovano and Douglas' self-penned compositions, however, which made up the guts of the set.

"The Corner Tavern," the hard-boppish "Full Moon" and the slow, blues-tinged ballad "Scandal"—with Douglas and Lovano to the fore—were all well-crafted tunes and the playing was, as you would expect, first rate. And yet there was a lack of real spark about the music, with tune after tune following a fairly predictable, unswerving path. Perhaps the exception was "Mission Creep," whose looser form broke the mould to a degree and let the music really breathe. Another Shorter-esque ballad, "Libra" rounded out the set with a collective refinement that was rare in a predominantly muscular set.

Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House

It was a short walk from The Mermaid Arts Centre to The Novara Avenue Hall to catch Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House, one of the New York-based, German saxophonists main vehicles since its debut release Anti House (Intakt Records, 2010). Once a quintet with John Herbert, Laubrock's Anti-House came to BJF 2018 as a quartet sans the bassist, with guitarist Mary Halvorson adding bass lines on her guitar when required.

On the opening number Kris Davis' angular piano showers and Tom Rainey's thunder paved the way for Laubrock's keening soprano runs— swirling, tumbling and flirting with dissonance. When all four musicians locked horns the resulting organised maelstrom burned fiercely for several intense minutes before ending in a series of sharp exclamations. The coruscating "From Farm Girl to Fabulous" pitched Halvorson's psychedelic bottle neck and grungy riffs, Davis' percussive piano patterns and Rainey's bristling stick work against Laubrock's burrowing tenor lines—as if King Crimson had embraced free-jazz.

Yet as raw and frameless as the music sometimes seemed there was clearly tight, and constantly thrilling interplay at work. It wasn't all bruising attack either, with occasional pockets of edgy reverie at slower tempi altering the mood dramatically. These musicians have played together in each other's ensembles for over a decade now and the understanding between them is such that it seemed as though that any one of them could steer the music this way or that on a whim. On one tune shaped by Halvorson's walking- pace single note lines, Laubrock on soprano and then Davis both stretched out, fuelled by Rainey's combustible rhythms. The drummer also enjoyed an unaccompanied solo spot, but in the main Anti-House was less about chops and more about building dramatic, shifting soundscapes.

The penultimate number saw Davis soloing over almost jaunty rhythms. Laubrock and Halvorson joined in a knotty unison motif, firing Rainey to fantastically choppy, bouyant action. Halvorson's fuzz-toned, distorted electric guitar kick-started a powerful collective groove whose abrupt ending was like an explosion. Anti-House signed off with a number that morphed from tip-toeing abstraction into a full-blown free-for-all. Davis' foreboding bottom end rumblings and Rainey's metronomic beat steered the quartet into more clearly defined rhythmic terrain, which petered out slowly but surely. The musicians took their bows to a standing ovation—a merited reward for a performance as scintillating as it was continually surprising.

Day Three

Laura Perrudin

A voice, a custom-built, electric chromatic harp, a loop station and an extraordinary imagination equated to a mesmerizing performance from Laura Perrudin in Bray Town Hall. The majority of her one-hour set highlighted songs from her album Poisons and Antidotes (Volatine, 2017). Influences from R&B, hip-hop and electronica to classical and jazz coursed freely through her music, with more than a hint of Bjork's dreamy soundscapes in the mix.

Tapping the strings and then lopping the beats, Perrudin launched into "The Sick Rose," an ethereal take on William Blake's poem of the same title. The roots of this arrangement go back to 2016 when Perrudin did a six-date tour of Ireland with bassist Neil O'Loghlen- EE [Cuar, Ensemble Ériu] playing music set to the texts of Irish and French poets. The beauty of Perrudin's voice was heard to enchanting effect on "The Ceiling's Maze" -evoking the understated allure of Gretchen Parlato and the sultry R&B balladry of Erika Badu.

Perrudin's orchestral palette saw her use the harp as a percussive tool, guitar, bass and washing synth. Her vocals, sung in English and French, however, were an equal part of the sound, wistful and caressing, while her harmonic sensibility lent depth to fairly simple musical frames. The lyrics too, you suspect, weighed heavily in emotional import, though they were sometimes lost in the enveloping, multi-layered sounds.

The traveling life of a musician inspired songs like "The Trap" (a stormy crossing on the Irish Sea) and the French-sung "Train"—a percussion, bass and guitar-styled number, spiked with a siren-like vocal backdrop. Harp and voice were heard in their purest form on "De ce tardif avril"—the text from a poem by 19th century Greek poet Jean Moréas— and W.B. Yeats' "The Song of Wandering Aengus"—both from Perrudin's debut album Impressions (Volatine, 2015). Another Yeats poem, "Auguries of Innocence" crowned the set, Perrudin's ethereal delivery of the text giving way to a keening, quasi-Arabic lament.

Like a lot of the most adventurous music Perrudin's own doesn't fall into any category but there was no denying the originality and beauty in her avant-garde, poetic sound world.

Bobo Stenson/Jon Falt/Mats Eilertsen

It was no surprise that a full house greeted Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson at the Mermaid Arts Centre. Since making his ECM recording debut as leader with the oddly titled Underwear (1971), Stenson has been widely lauded as one of the most significant European jazz musicians of the past half century. Now seventy three, Stenson is still in fine creative fettle as his ninth recording as leader for ECM, La Indecision (2018) elegantly demonstrates. For this concert, which musically was as much about the old as the new, Stenson's long-standing drummer Jon Falt was joined by Mats Eilertsen, standing in for Anders Jormin.

It was with Argentinian composer Ariel Ramirez' "La Peregrinación" from Stenson's previous ECM album, Indicum (2012) that the trio set off. Stenson's spare approach, with Fält on brushes, captured Ramirez' folkloric lyricism. South American songwriters/folklorists have long appealed to Stenson, who took with gusto to Silvio Rodriguez' anthem "El Mayor," Fält's rhythmic elasticity and bright colors lighting Stenson's blue touch paper. The pianist was more rhythmically subdued, though lyrically searching, on "Golden Rain," leaving room for Eilertsen to express his own ingenuity more fully.

Collective abstraction characterized the intro to Tony Williams' composition "There Comes a Time"—with Stenson's minimalist stirrings gradually unfolding and gathering bluesy steam, with Eilertsen and Fält intuitively following suit. Stenson was at his most economical and lyrical on a beautiful version of Erik Satie's "Elegie," the trio moving fairly swiftly towards more robust expressionism before returning once more to embrace Satie's restful pastures. Greater rhythmic urgency fueled "Don's Kora Dong," a dancing Don Cherry-inspired number with Fält's thumb-piano ostinato underpinning Stenson's dynamic, flowing improvisations.

Balladic finesse was juxtaposed against expansive trio explorations that occasionally veered into exhilarating freer territory, the trio anchored by Stenson's melodic flare and rhythmic compass. For the encore Stenson led the trio through a slow, brushes-led number, his sunny melodicism ending a constantly engaging concert on a cheery, uplifting note.

Jim Black—Malamute

The final chapter of BJF 2018 saw Jim Black's acoustic-electric quartet give a blistering performance of material from Malamute (Intakt Records, 2017) to a captivated audience in the Novara Avenue Parochial Hall.

Keyboardist Elias Stemeseder's sci-fi soundscapes announced "Almost Awake," with Óskar Guðjónsson's tenor saxophone gliding over Chris Tordini's electric bass ostinato and Black's uncluttered rock beat. In a heartbeat Black launched into skittish, off-kilter rhythms that ignited the quartet's free-jazz fuse, the bruising polyphony eventually subsiding into the dreamy abstraction of "Toys Everywhere."

Shifts from one sonic extreme to another defined the music, uncommonly episodic in nature, with Black's drumming visceral in its no-frills directness—yet never predictable—at the heart of everything. One composition ran seamlessly into the next, the intensity waxing and waning much like an orchestral suite. Thundering drums over floating melodies, serene melodic passages steered by Guðjónsson, shimmering space-rock, noodling electronic ambiance and driving post-rock were all threads in the ever-evolving narrative.

It would have been difficult to imagine the music having the same effect had the various compositional segments been broken by applause—the power of the music lay in precisely in its unrelenting march. Prog rock-jazz? 21st century jazz-fusion? Who could hang a name, at least one that might stick, on such a fantastically moveable feast?

It's rare to encounter such fiercely original and uncompromising music on a jazz festival program in Ireland as few promoters are willing to take the risk, so hats off to BJF directors Dorothy and George Jacob for their artistic courage. There was the lingering feeling, however, long after the standing ovation, that Jim Black—and indeed this caliber of experimental music in general—was deserving of the festival's main stage.


BJF 2018 was arguably the strongest to date, with just the right balance between music that entertained and music that challenged. The numerous Irish acts were, as usual, in the bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels around the town. In a way, the home-grown musicians feel like a side-show to the main events and it would be nice to see a few promoted to the main stage of the Mermaid Arts Centre in future editions of the festival.

However, the issue there is that many of these musicians play week in week out in Dublin, often for free or for very small fees. It could be that they price themselves down and consequently out of the bigger stage. It is perhaps also true that a festival that bills itself as international generally favors artists with an international reputation. How many local folk are likely to pay twenty five or thirty Euros—the minimum price necessary for the main gigs so the festival organizers don't make a loss—to see a group that they can potentially see every week in Dublin for a fraction of that price? Unless the Irish musicians score international success it's a situation that is unlikely to change in the near future.

One partial solution could be to have local groups opening for the international marquee names. This of course would entail changes in timing in what is already a very tightly scheduled program, but it could, with a little will and flexibility, be done.

Next year BJF turns twenty. It will no doubt prove to be a very special weekend with another extremely strong line-up. It's what we've come to expect of this festival. Tickets will likely go like the proverbial hot cakes.

Photo Credit: John Cronin, Dublin Jazz Photography

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