Bray Jazz Festival 2019

Ian Patterson By

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Accordingly, the players had to battle against the shrieks and screams, with bassist Damian Evans and drummer Kevin Brady pushing the tempo and intensity of "There Will Never Be Another You"—perhaps consciously, perhaps not. Flanigan's dashing solo, interspersed with drum fusillades and bursts of saxophone, competed boldly with the hubbub. In the end, it took the most delicate balladry from the pianist to hush the crowd, and it was at slower, more measured tempi that Flanigan's personality shone through. Gillard's compositional strengths were showcased on the original "Semisweet" , with saxophonist and pianist both featuring. The set wound up with a stirring version of Thelonious Monk's "Rhythm a Ning," with sparks flying from all. It seemed fitting for Monk's music to have the final say, as his music still provides inspiration for so many jazz musicians, and so much pleasure for countless jazz fans, around the world.


When the dust settles the twentieth BJF may well go down as one of the most memorable editions to date. Several of the concerts will likely go into the 'best of the first twenty years' category, as subjective as such things are. This year marked an exciting new chapter in BJF's history, with the On The Road series taking concerts to four outlying towns in County Wicklow. For people in Blessington, Roundwood, Arklow and Tinahely, this move represented a fairly rare opportunity to experience world-class jazz/improvised music. These concerts, which were an attractive bonus to artists appearing on the festival's main programme, also have the potential to stimulate public interest in BJF from further afield than the Greater Dublin area. It is to be hoped that this worthwhile initiative will become an annual fixture.

Credit must go to Improvised Music Company's Kenneth Killeen, whose programming choices continue to surprise and delight. But on this special anniversary, special praise must be reserved for the festival's founders and directors, Dorothy and George Jacob; it was their initial vision that birthed BJF and it's because of their ongoing efforts, throughout each successive year, that have cemented BJF's reputation as one of Ireland's essential music festivals. What the next two decades will bring in the story of BJF remains to be seen, but it's sure that the instrumentation, the musical vocabulary, the technology, and the musicians that drive the music, will all have evolved. It will be fascinating to watch the story continue to unfold. Here's to the next twenty editions of BJF!

Photo Credit: John Cronin, Dublin Jazz Photography /William Monaco Echoes In Between
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