Monday 20 November 2017

Pared-down festival a shadow of its former glory days and nights


Grainne Farren

'THE buzz is gone'. 'It's a shadow of what it was'. These and similar remarks were heard from the small number of former regulars who attended the Cork Jazz Festival last weekend. Already on the decline, the festival this year was not so much slimmed down as pared to the bone.

There were some fine concerts, notably in Triskel Christchurch. Besides Bobby Watson (reviewed last Sunday), the main attraction there was the Ian Shaw Group featuring Peter Ind (double bass). Completing the group were David Preston (guitar), Phil Ware (piano), Ciaran Wilde (alto sax), Miguel Gorodi (trumpet) and Gene Calterazzo (drums). Ian Shaw's inimitable way with blues like Since I Fell For You and witty songs like Be Cool was even better with the support of this superb group.

Earlier in the day, the venerable Peter Ind had given a talk in the Cork School of Music on the theme of 'playing from the heart'. Now he and the rest of the Shaw group gave a live demonstration of what he meant. It would have been good to listen to them all night, but the festival convention of double bills meant that they left the stage at the interval. They were replaced by Stanley Jordan (guitar) who played a flamboyant but very melodic solo set.

The marvellous acoustics of Triskel Christchurch enable certain musicians to play without mikes. This was the case of a Norwegian duo, Trygve Seim (tenor sax) and Frode Halti (accordion). Their music was extremely slow but amazingly atmospheric, evoking images of a snowy wilderness.

However, there was no sign of the wall-to-wall, morning-til-night, informal jazz gigs that used to characterise the Cork Festival. This year's event was a modest series of concerts, with very little choice. There was no festive atmosphere, no spontaneity, no buzz. Audience numbers were down. Is the festival on its last legs, or has it a future?

Sunday Independent

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