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Sligo tutors swing to jam session of fire and imagination

ALL 15 members of the Sligo Jazz Project teaching faculty got together in various combinations for the last night of the festival/summer school, last Saturday July 23. The result was a fascinating concert.

John Taylor (piano) got things off to a punchy start with the aid of Alec Dankworth (double bass) and John Riley (drums). For the second number, Dankworth was replaced by Michael Manring (electric bass), while Andreas Oberg (guitar), sounding a bit like John Scofield, was the main soloist.

Marshall Gilkes (trombone) was a revelation. Playing in a quintet with Jean Toussaint (tenor sax), Phil Ware (piano), Dankworth (double bass) and David Lyttle (drums), he combined beautifully with the tenor player in a kind of weaving duet.

Later, backed only by Steve Davis on drums, Gilkes played Thelonious Monk's 'We See', confirming the impression that he is the most exciting trombonist since JJ Johnson.

Originally from the United States, Gilkes now lives in Germany and performs with the WDR Big Band.

Cleveland Watkiss has a big, wide-ranging voice that sounds particularly pleasing in the lower register. His wordless vocal acrobatics were unaccompanied except for his own vocal backing track.

Another memorable moment came when Matthew Halpin (tenor sax) teamed up with Ware, Dankworth and Davis for Ellington's 'Sophisticated Lady'. Linley Hamilton (flugelhorn), Mike Nielsen (acoustic guitar) and Paul Clarvis (drums) joined Ware to play Abbey Lincoln's 'Throw it Away'. Another highlight was 'It never entered my Mind' by Nielsen, Dankworth and Clarvis.

At the end, 11 of the musicians got together for a loosely-structured jam session, full of fire and imagination, with a tremendous piano solo by Taylor. With teachers like these, the Sligo Jazz Project students must have learnt a lot.

The Kilkenny Arts Festival begins this Friday, when the trioVD from the UK appear in the Set Theatre. In Dublin, also on Friday the Boylan Buckley Evans Trio plays a lunchtime gig in the National Concert Hall's John Field Room.

Sunday Independent