Festival can be launch pad for Lyttle known artists Week three

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In part three of our weekly Jazz Diary, one of Irish Jazz’s brightest stars, drummer and composer David Lyttle lauds the role the festival plays in providing a platform for up and coming Irish Jazz talent . . .

Star of the Irish Jazz scene David Lyttle says the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival plays an important role in providing a platform for upcoming musical talent.

The County Armagh born drummer/composer has been hailed as one of the most significant jazz musicians to have emerged from this island in recent years. He has performed in the USA, Canada, Britain and Europe and has developed associations with internationally respected artists such as Greg Osby, Jean Toussaint, Tommy Smith and Soweto Kinch but was a relative unknown when he made his bow at the Derry Jazz festival in 2007.

“The festival has always been a great supporter of Irish artists and when I was coming up Johnny Murray (festival organiser) was easy to talk to and supportive of me getting a gig. Every year he’s kept me on and allowed me to bring new guests, international artists. The Derry Jazz festival is fantastic platform for young artists which is important,” said David.

Of course Lyttle has no problems getting a gig in Derry or any other venue for that matter these days such is the acclaim with which his performances and releases have been received in recent years.

“Since last year’s Derry Jazz Festival I’ve toured a lot. I’ve done eight or nine separate tours with different groups and different events I set up bringing guests over. Mostly I’ve been working around Ireland and the UK but I was also over in Canada, in Toronto for a week. I’ve been in Ronnie Scott’s a few times and I toured a suite I wrote called Dark Tales. It’s been a busy year,” he said.

It speaks volumes of the standing of the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival that a musician as in-demand as Lyttle hold it in such high regard and makes sure that it is a fixture on his annual calendar.

“Somebody said to me that a successful festival always has an identity and the identity of this festival is that you have a great atmosphere and great music in such a relatively small geographical area. The locals all really embrace it and you can walk from venue to venue and know that if you walk into any bar you are going to find great music. But if you want to see something more formal you can check out the programme and there’ll be something on at the Millennium Forum or the Playhouse. If you are at a festival in a bigger city like London it can be a half hour run from one festival to the other. There’s an intimacy and compactness to Derry, great music in such a concentrated area it’s fantastic. The programme for this year looks great. It’s the best I’ve seen. There’s a great mix of modern stuff and mainstream stuff, they covered the spectrum,” he said.

The David Lyttle group featuring David Palmer play at the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival on Sunday, May 1 at 8pm at the Playhouse Theatre. For tickets contact the Playhouse Box office on 02871268027.

For more information visit the festival website on www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com