Jazz fever begins as city’s festival is launched

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - 21st March 2012. ''City of Derry Jazz Festival 2012 Launch'''Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography
�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - 21st March 2012. ''City of Derry Jazz Festival 2012 Launch'''Photo Lorcan Doherty Photography

Over three-hundred jazz-inspired events spanning more than 70 venues will ensure Derry’s place in the limelight again this year - with a spectacular festival programme unveiled at the 11th City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival launch earlier this week.

The Waterfoot Hotel was swinging to the sounds of some exceptional jazz performers for the well-attended launch on Wednesday past.

Paul McIntyre, the Fiona Trotter trio and singer Mirenda Rosenberg all delivered show-stopping performances for a capacity audience which included many prominent local people, musicians, local vintners, venue owners and music lovers.

The launch provided just a taster of the riches in store for the forthcoming Jazz and Big Band Festival, which takes place across the city over the May Bank Holiday weekend from Thursday, May 3 until Monday, May 7.

The launch, compered by Mark Patterson, included speakers Oonagh McGillion, Temporary Director of Development with Derry City Council and Diagio representative Barney McCann speaking on behalf of festival sponsors Guinness.

Ms McGillion says: “We are delighted to have a whole host of festival favourites making a welcome return to the festival this year. Acts such as the Les Swinging Lovers, the Lee Hedley Band, King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys, Ska Beat, Blues Katz, Linley Hamilton and The Fontelles are among the many bands who come back year after year to perform.”

With the departure of Jazz stalwart Johnny Murray, this year welcomes Elaine Griffin as the festival’s new Project Officer.

Ms Griffin told the ‘Journal’: “I’m loving it! It’s been a challenge, but a good challenge.

“Johnny is a hard act to follow, but it’s been great and we will make sure and get everybody into the city for the weekend.”

Topping the bill at this year’s festival is international performer Van Morrison, who will perform two gigs at the Millennium Forum.

Other top acts expected to draw the crowds in are Ruby Turner, Kitten and the Hip, up and coming Irish jazz performer Grainne Duffy, Carmen Ghia and the Hotrods, Mick Flannery and the Swing Gals, to name but a few.

The Mayor Alderman Maurice Devenney said the festival is a true reflection of the cutting edge of musical talent in the city.

“This year’s Festival again promises to show the city at its very best.”

Since its inception the festival has steadily broadened its scope to include jive, swing, boogie, dance, rhythm and blues in addition to traditional and more mainstream type jazz.

Now a staple on the international jazz festival circuit and one of the biggest events on the Irish cultural calendar – over 35,000 visitors enjoyed last year’s event.

For information visit: www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com or follow festival updates on City of Derry Jazz Festival facebook site.