The City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Jazz Festival arrived with a bang yesterday as musicians from across the world pressed play on five days of music and dancing across the city.
Over 40,000 people are expected to take part in this year’s festival, with organisers promising a magical weekend of music.
The May Bank Holiday Festival, which is supported by Diageo, opened on International Jazz Day yesterday with a series of events taking place throughout the city to mark the occasion.
More than 250 events will take place in over 60 venues by the time the festival draws to a close on Monday night.
As well as a host of renowned international acts, the festival will this year again provide a major platform to showcase homegrown talent, and the Journal is providing a daily list of what’s on where on our website under the ‘What’s On’ section, one day in advance.
Speaking just before the festival got under way yesterday, Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor Elisha McCallion, said: “The City of Derry Jazz festival is one of the city’s most successful events and it never fails to attract music lovers of all ages from all over the world. The programme this year is packed full of entertainment to suit all tastes, whether you’re a jazz purist, or just a fan of great live music, and it’s fantastic to see so many local venues supporting the festival.
“There’s no better time to visit Derry, and I hope to see you all out and about this Bank Holiday weekend.”
The Guildhall’s Main Hall were last night echoing to the sounds of some of the finest local jazz talent, with music by the Paul McIntyre Trio, Gay McIntyre, George Hasson, John and Fiona Trotter among others.
Others taking to various stages across the city over the weekend include Carmen Ghia and the Hotrods, Les Swingin Lovers and the Jaydee Brass Band.
Highlights of the festival will include a charity open air concert at the Playtrail’s Ampitheatre in Belmont on Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.
Festival favourite the Palais Swing Band will share the stage with talented young local Kevin Roache as well as numerous other young musicians.
All proceeds from the £5 admission tickets will go towards Ardnashee Special School and College.
The event has been organised by the school.
Topping the bill at this year’s festival is Jamie Cullum, who will take to the stage at the Millennium Forum on Monday, supported by the young local talents of the St Mary’s School choir.
Throughout the weekend, Bennigan’s on John Street will host a formidable line-up of talent including Louis Stewart, Charlie Wood, Robert Mitchell, Dennis Rollins and MOBO nominated saxophonist Camilla George.
The Playhouse Speakeasy will be adding a touch of prohibition era intrigue and Gatsby-style glamour each night from Thursday to Sunday at 9.30pm.
Among the other talented local artists taking to the stage will be Derry woman Anne Tracey and a host of friends and family.
Anne, who made her festival debut last year, returns on Saturday with a brand new show at the Holywell Diverse City Community Partnership building in Bishop Street (beside the Sandwich Co).
Her ‘Jazz with a Twist’ will be an evening fizzing with an eclectic mix of music, song, and poetry.
Anne will be singing new material from iconic female artists including songs from Bette Midler, Sandy Denny and Oleta Adams.
“Jazz with a twist is a warm-hearted inclusive evening which opens up the door to upcoming home-grown talent,” Anne said.
She will be joined by Strabane’s Ryan Quinn, a young multi-talented pianist.
New faces appearing at ‘Jazz With A Twist’ are Joel Tracey on guitar and Jessica Doran from Waterford, along with Daniel Millar and Leanne McLaughlin (the Tau Tree Serpents), Brendan Brady, Michaela Devine and Robert Arbuckle (from Custodian).
Joining Michaela in the backing group this year are singers Fiona Bradley, Linda Morgan and Charlotte Gillespie - all new to the jazz festival.
Moneymore poet, Maura Johnston, jazz flautist Amanda Koser-Gillespie and the Glaswegian jazz piper James Kenny supported by the dynamic drummer, Richard Campbell will also be gracing the stage
The cabaret duo Ursula McHugh and Deirdre Doherty are back. Eamonn Baker will be “talking in tune” and much-loved singer-songwriter Roy Arbuckle will perform a number of songs and our stalwart backing band of Marty Brolly,
Brendan Brady, Richard Campbell and Frank Cassidy will once again get those toes tappin’ and those hands clappin’.
Anne’s brothers Brendan (who is travelling from Long Island), Michael and Jack Corey are back this year too with a new repertoire of songs to engage their audience.
The show starts at 8pm sharp, as some of the artists are performing later at other jazz venues in the city.
The audience are invited to bring their own drink or refreshment of choice.
Tickets are £10 for Jazz with a Twist and are available through Erin and/ or David at reception Holywell DiverseCity Community Partnership building, 028 71 261941. There may be a few available at the door on the night.
For more information on the full weekend line-up go to www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com.