Dee Dee dominates with a memorable collaboration
FOR sheer excitement, the most memorable event of 2008 was Dee Dee Bridgewater's appearance in the National Concert Hall in May. Red Earth -- a Malian Journey featured the American singer with a group of West African musicians, mixing jazz with music from the Griot tradition. It was sensational.
The rapport between Norma Winstone and Tommy Halferty is nothing short of phenomenal. The vocal/guitar duo played a richly varied programme at the Bray Jazz Festival. Also featured in Bray was Mare Nostrum, a colourful trio composed of Jan Lundgren (piano), Richard Galliano (accordion) and Paulo Fresu (trumpet).
The Bray Festival is one example of the rise of small annual festivals at a time when the formerly brilliant Cork Jazz Festival is declining. Another is the Sligo Jazz Project, where Ulf Wakenius (guitar), Anita Wardell (vocals) and Bill Carrothers (piano) covered themselves in glory last August.
Having enjoyed Cormac Kenevey's concert launching his new CD, it was good to hear that he came 10th in the Male Vocalist Category of the Down Beat Readers' Poll. This puts the Irish singer in such distinguished company as Kurt Elling (1st), Tony Bennett (2nd) and Bobby McFerrin (3rd).
Jim Mullen from Scotland joined Hugh Buckley for a lively two-guitar night in JJ Smyth's in September. The two leaders blended well together, Buckley using a plectrum while Mullen plucked the strings with his thumb in the manner of Wes Montgomery.
The same week brought another international guitarist, John Abercrombie, to Whelan's, where he played with flawless creativity, des-pite loud interruptions from the other bar which was catering to different musical tastes.
Other performers of the year included the quietly impressive Bobo Stenson Trio in the Pavilion, the Cedar Walton Quartet in Cork, and the Herbie Hancock Sextet in the Tripod. One of the best moments of the last-named concert was when Hancock put his electronic experimentation aside to play a lovely acoustic piano solo.