Anticipation is building for the 21st Bray Jazz Festival

Musicians and music lovers look forward to a weekend of jazz with some of the biggest names in international and Irish jazz heading to Bray on the May bank holiday weekend.

Stemming from the annual music calendar since 2019 – when the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of live events across the world – the festival is making a welcome return with a jam-packed schedule of events starting Friday 29 April and continuing throughout over the May bank holiday weekend.

As festival organizers report unprecedented early booking of shows throughout the weekend, the appetite for the festival’s return is shared not just by the public who will descend on North Wicklow for the 21st event annual.

The Irish jazz community has also hailed the return of the Bray Jazz Festival after a three-year absence.

Jazz critic Ian Patterson of All About Jazz says few in this part of the world would disagree that the Bray Jazz Festival has established itself “not just as one of the essential music festivals on the Irish calendar , but as a jazz festival of international stature”. reputation.”

Bassist and composer Ronan Guilfoyle, director of the Center for Jazz Performance at Dublin City University, said of the festival’s return that Bray Jazz had always provided a platform for musical performance at the highest level.

“Jazz is ultimately about live performance – the recordings are great, but only approximate the live experience. As a young musician, my life was changed by seeing great performers in person, and seeing the best perform live is a rite of passage and inspiration for all jazz musicians,” he said.

“Bray Jazz has always provided a platform for music performance at the highest level, and it’s so great to see him back. Once again, Irish audiences will be able to savor the music in their natural surroundings, and I’m sure we will all once again be delighted, entertained and inspired. Welcome Bray, it’s been too long!

Drummer Kevin Brady described the Bray Jazz Festival as one of the most important musical events in Ireland, and added that the festival was “an integral platform which then brings together the national and international jazz music community“.

“Bray Jazz gives Irish audiences the opportunity to experience what’s going on in jazz. I’m thrilled to be part of this year’s festival and will be performing at the Mermaid Arts Center with American pianist Randy Ingram and bassist Dave Redmond,” he added.

Pianist Greg Felton, whose band ‘Origin Story’ will play Bray Jazz at Harbor Bar on Friday, April 29, has loyal festival members, saying the festival gave him a tremendous career-starting opportunity, when his band opened for legendary American saxophonist Steve Coleman in 2003.

Of Shankill, Felton says he had just graduated from Newpark Jazz School and that gig at the Mermaid Arts Center was “a really big deal for us”.

He later recalled bringing his then six-year-old daughter to a masterclass the festival held with New York trumpeter Dave Douglas a decade later. “He had her play the trumpet and answer questions, it was a wonderful experience for her. I also received pearls of wisdom that day which I continually use in composing and teaching,” recalls- he.

Latin jazz drummer and bandleader Conor Guilfoyle also has fond memories of the Bray Jazz Festival, recalling that he led his big band “Night in Havana Orchestra” on the main stage of the first-ever Bray Jazz Festival, when landmark concerts were held at Ardmore Film Studios, as the Mermaid Arts Center had yet to be built.

“I’ve been lucky enough to play jazz festivals all over the world, so having one of this quality on my doorstep is such a gift. The organization, atmosphere and spirit of everyone involved is on par with anything you will find in the world.

“The past two years have been incredibly difficult for musicians, so seeing Bray Jazz come back is a sign that we’re finally on our way back to normality,” he said.

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