independent

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Our magic Jazz Festival

Young Sligo musicians jam alongside the jazz greats

Sorcha Crowley

There are moments in time that make the hair stand on the back of your neck, when magic happens.

Several young Sligo jazz musicians will look back in years to come and remember one such moment during Sligo Jazz Project 2017.

They were taking part in one of their nightly jamming session when LA-based Australian drummer Virgil Donati sat down and joined them.

"It was an incredible gig. He sat in with some of our Youth Academy guys. It was a magical moment," said SJP founder Eddie Lee.

"To see him playing with youngsters from Sligo. They might not appreciate it now but in years to come they'll remember playing with Virgil Donati. It was really special," he said.

The annual jazz festival attracted over 125 participants, 23 tutors and 17 ensembles who played in the final concert at the festival hub in the Riverside Hotel last Sunday night.

The highlights were many over the course of the week-long festival which has an annual budget of €90,000. There were sessions daily at Hargadon's, Tricky's and various Sligo cafés.

Local pianist Kieran Quinn's theme night at the Hawk's Well last Wednesday was described as "sensational altogether", as were the SJP All Stars on the Friday night.

The summer school has grown exponentially year-on-year, with three tutors this year, from Ireland and overseas: Kieran Quinn, Cathal Roche and Ciaran Wilde.

For two hours every afternoon the youngsters would work on ensembles, culminating in the all-day Sunday gig at the Riverside which is always one of the highlights of the festival.

Lee says this year they accommodated their "biggest Youth Academy yet" thanks to the support from Music Generation Sligo.

"The one thing that struck us is the number of young musicians under the age of 18 years in Sligo," said Eddie.

"We had a lot of them in the Summer School and one of the highlights for me was watching them perform. They'd melt anyone's heart," he told this newspaper.

"We had people from the USA, Israel, Ukraine, Sweden, the UK, France, Germany and Sweden to name but a few," said Eddie.

"On a Tuesday afternoon at 4.30pm you couldn't get into Hargadons," he said.

The SJP was wrapped up in style by Strandhill native and lead vocalist Joan Shields.

Her six-piece band The Sophisticats brought all the exuberance and glamour of the Jazz Age to McGarrigles on Saturday night and the Riverside at the Festival Wrap Party on Sunday night.

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