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Dublin Jazz Book Vol. 1

Ian Patterson By

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Dublin Jazz Book Vol. 1
Sam Kavanagh
Pages: 80
ISBN: 979-0-9002321-0-6
Self Published

Original, adventurous and visually striking, the Dublin Jazz Book may be the first jazz Real Book in the world to celebrate the original compositions of a single city. Conceived of by saxophonist Sam Kavanagh and designed by Steven McNamara, the DJB seeks an alternative path to gigs dominated by American jazz standards and a move towards the type of gigs and jam sessions where the compositions of a host of Dublin jazz musicians can be readily called upon. In short, the DJB aims to create a culture of modern standards based on original material.

Fifty three compositions by twenty eight musicians provide a decent snapshot of the current Dublin jazz scene. Alongside the compositions of students of Newpark Music Centre are those of veteran musicians such as guitarists Mike Nielsen and Hugh Buckley. The cosmopolitan character of Dublin is reflected by the compositions of musicians hailing from Italy (pianist Francesco Turrisi, guitarist Julien Colarossi), Hungary (Aleka Potinga, guitarist Peter Dobai) and Peru (drummer Cote Calmet).

The DJB may yet find its way onto jazz scenes in Switzerland, China, Australia, Spain and the two great capitals of jazz, New York and London, where a number of the composers currently reside. Primarily, however, the fifty three tunes serve as a community-bonding tool in Dublin, not to mention a handy point of entry for foreign students planning on enrolling at Newpark Music Centre—a feeder for Berklee College of Music—and working their way into the Dublin/Irish jazz scene.

The styles of the compositions are fairly wide-ranging, with a little of everything including medium tempo swingers, samba and bossa flavored jazz, blues, slow and medium-tempo ballads, vocal tunes, a lullaby, waltz, rock and fusion-centric jazz. There's also plenty of straight ahead fare, and even a Christmas song for all those end-of-year corporate gigs.

McNamara's design is quite beautiful; clearly a lot of thought went into the presentation, with an emphasis on chart legibility on the gigs, which invariably suffer from poor lighting. The nicely sized Futura font will be welcomed by musicians, as will the easily identifiable chord symbols, melodic lines and rhythmic clues—all things to all typical ensembles. The tunes are presented in alphabetical order, which makes them easy to find.

The cover is both simple and striking. The blood-red jacket is adorned with a representation in black of the iconic Spire of Dublin, cleverly fused with a hi-hat. It's an ingenious and elegant symbol of Dublin city and its jazz community. The book is lightly peppered with McNamara's black-and-white photos of Dublin—its river, parks, buildings and the sea offering some sense of place.

Though the first print of the DJB is limited, the entire book is available for free online at the corresponding website, which also provides links to the musicians who contributed their songs. Volume 1 of the DJB is intended as a self-contained work, so any future songs are slated for the DJB Volume 2.

Kavanagh and McNamara have done a fine job with this highly professional, attractive jazz Real Book. At the very least the DJB is a fine advertisement for Dublin jazz, but what is more, it may well prove to be highly influential in the years to come.


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