Guinness Cork Jazz Festival
One legitimate criticism of the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival in recent years was that it did not sufficiently represent young talents. To compare it to Dublin's 12 Points festival was to show up a lost opportunity. This year, the festival has followed the lead of 12 Points, even getting its director, Gerry Godley, to bring exciting young acts.
One of these was the Paris vibes trio Metal-O-Phone, who took their lead instrument for a walk on the wild side on Friday night.
Their show was in the Triskel's austere auditorium, representing a shift of focus for the weekend's listening, away from the McCurtain Street axis of the Everyman and the Metropole.
The Everyman was down four acts this year, and the Metropole has dropped all pretence of providing jazz fans with any reason to go. But those losses were more than compensated by Triskel, which has become a complex in its own right, comprised of the beautiful Christchurch venue, the auditorium, and Gulpd café-bar. In the latter, 5pm gigs from unheralded gems like the Dan Walsh trio were served up with a menu of cheap, tasty food, making for the perfect refuelling stop.
Irish quintet Thought-Fox graced a Saturday afternoon in Christchurch. Singer Lauren Kinsella has goofy charm, and a remarkable voice. With scatting technique that draws on modernist sound experimentation, she sounds at times like Bjork singing backwards.
The performance of the festival came from the Armenian pianist Tigran Hamasyan at the Everyman.
From an extraordinary opening solo vocal to Armenian and Irish folk songs, Hamasyan oozed natural ability.
Later on at the same venue, Chris Dave and the Drumhedz squared off on stage, their point of departure: John Coltrane's 'Moment's Notice' -- witty, considering they were in Cork all of 30 minutes after missing a flight from Paris.
What followed was a demanding hour of non-stop music that reached everywhere from rock to baroque. After that, the relatively simple pleasures of hip-hop, courtesy of De La Soul and First Serve at the Opera House, proved refreshing. Pos and Dave were old-school hype MCs in front of First Serve's funky mix of live instruments, DJs and computers, before returning to give us a medley of De La Soul hits.
The band's original DJ, Maseo, followed with a megamix of classics from A Tribe Called Quest. It was a reminder that hip-hop is a mature art, even if it hasn't grown respectable with age.