'Recessionary quartet' and child sensation make festival swing
HUGH Buckley, introducing his trio in the Mermaid Arts Centre on the first night of the Bray Jazz Festival last week, quipped that it was a "recessionary quartet".
In fact, a drum kit would have been redundant, as Buckley (guitar), Cian Boylan (piano) and Damian Evans (double bass) swung their way effortlessly through Go Tell It On the Mountain, Stomping at the Savoy, Floren's Dance and more.
In the second half of the same concert, Christine Tobin's splendid voice and range made the most of songs by Carole King -- although for me the highlight of the evening was a dramatic tune in Portuguese by Brazilian composer Milton Nascimento. Her accompanist, Liam Noble, is a skilled pianist but rather too stiff for this kind of material.
Buckley and Tobin weren't the only highlights of the festival by a long shot. Andreas Varady, a 13-year-old guitarist from Slovakia who now lives in Ireland, played on the Saturday afternoon in the Royal Hotel, Bray.
This phenomenal young musician fully lived up to his growing reputation, playing Parker, Coltrane, Ellington, Django Reinhardt and a couple of standards, as well as his own composition, Blues for Edward.
He was backed by his father, Bandi Varady (rhythm guitar), Michael Janisch (bass) and David Lyttle (drums).
In the Mermaid later that night, Ronan Guilfoyle (electric bass) led Trilogue, a trio with Sarah Beuchi (vocals) and Izumi Kimura (piano).
Pushing originality to the point of eccentricity, they played arrangements of music by Thelonious Monk and Bela Bartok. This bizarre juxtaposition worked well.
The Swiss singer's wordless vocals were at their best in the lower register but a bit squeaky on the higher notes. The Japanese pianist played a classical-style accompaniment, while bassist Guilfoyle had the advantage of a new electric instrument with a fuller sound than his old bass.
In the second half, Kurt Rosenwinkel (guitar) led a quartet with Aaron Parks (piano), Eric Revis (bass) and Justin Faulkner (drums). The music they chose to play was loud and rock-oriented, although they are all capable of better. Rosenwinkel's was the only disappointing group heard in the festival.