Triskel Christchurch was the splendid setting for the first concert of the Cork Jazz Festival last Friday night. Hamilton (trumpet and flugelhorn), Johnny Taylor (piano), Dan Bodwell (double bass) and Dominic Mullan (drums) have the kind of intuitive understanding that comes from playing regularly together, with a constant interplay of ideas.
They drew their tunes from many different sources. Abbey Lincoln's Throw It Away was followed by the Rodgers and Hart standard This Can't Be Love. A spare, delicate tune called Fade a Little gave way to Paul Simon's Have a Good Time, featuring staccato trumpet and a rollicking piano solo.
Hamilton changed to flugelhorn for Carole King's poignant Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, then back to trumpet again for an up-tempo Without a Song. Following another romantic tune, My Heart's Desire, the quartet ended the set with a fast swinger, Happy People.
After the interval, the Bobby Watson All-Stars took the stage. Watson (alto sax), Bruce Barth (piano), Duncan Hopkins (double bass) and Stephen Keogh (drums) played a powerful set, full of colour and contrast. They opened with a John Coltrane tune, Cousin Mary, weaving all sorts of wonders into it.
Karita, a busy number was followed by a slow, bluesy version of In a Sentimental Mood.
Bobby Watson's solos all combined flawless virtuosity with emotional intensity. His creative flair inspired the whole group, especially Barth, whose composition Affinity was one of the highlights. Others were Watson's own Time Will Tell and Always a Friend. ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) recalled Bobby Watson's days with Art Blakey.
The festival continues with the Tia Fuller Quartet and the Greg Osby group this afternoon in the Everyman Palace Theatre. Tonight in the same venue, Jean-Luc Ponty (violin) leads a quartet and Richard Galliano (accordion and trombone) plays with La Strada Quintet. An oddly-named Irish group, ReDiviDer, plays the night owls set in the Triskel at 11pm.