Cork Jazz Festival: GoGo Penguin
While Jazz Weekend critics have long identified that one of the great disappointments of the festival has been the heavy emphasis on crowds in favor of the cutting-edge jazz that forms the artistic basis and legacy of the festival, the Everyman Theater on McCurtain Street has long been a haven. for people looking for the newest and best the genre has to offer on the October bank holiday.
As the festival assumes something of a recalibration towards a diverse and artistically believable lineup of headliners, Manchester trio GoGo Penguin will be in the right place at the right time, as they head to Leeside on an intensive tour, treading The Everybody’s Sacred Boards on Friday nights.
“We’re really looking forward to it. It’s been a really exciting year for us, where we’ve been able to get back on the road,” says pianist Chris Illingsworth. “It’s been a tough two years for everyone, Covid has affected everyone in different ways, it just shut everything down. We didn’t do a concert for two years, we didn’t travel, we couldn’t play, we released an album at the start of the confinement, we couldn’t even play this music until This year.
“All of these shows have been really exciting, and it’s going to be great, coming to Cork, we always had a really good time when we were in Ireland, good crowd reactions and a good atmosphere. I feel like that it’s going to be quite long, because we have this tour in Europe, before we get to that, and then we finish this run, and then we fly to Cork. [laughs].”
The new single “Erased by Sunlight” is the band’s most recent release via new house label XXIM Records/Sony, recorded during the same sessions as their EP “Between Two Waves” released last July, recorded at Real World Studios. of Peter Gabriel in Bath. It’s both a stand-alone work and an indicator of departures to come for an acclaimed collective that has always leaned towards the new.
“I guess it’s kind of a continuation of where we were with the EP, there’s still a few leaps to take with some of the stuff you’ll hear when the new album comes out. We’re gradually evolving and taking certain steps a bit bolder and more forward-thinking than we’ve been in the past with a few different things, but I think it gives people a good taste A lot of the music we’ve written about that , because what we’ve been through for the last two years of lockdown and then with a change of personnel there’s been a lot of changes and a lot of differences where I’ve tried to address that in the way I write, as well.
“With this last track, the idea was to deliberately try to push me in a different direction. So when you feel those instincts, when you sit down at the piano, when you think about things that might come naturally to you mind try to push in a different direction than this see where it takes you just so that you are not falling into routines or falling into patterns or falling into something that realistically belongs there a few years. Trying to move forward, trying to think ahead, and once you have that initial new direction, allowing those instincts to come back, it helps you develop that in a way that seems still natural and still looks like GoGo Penguin, but also has this new direction and element.
The single also features new drummer Jon Scott, and on the subject of personnel change and new directions, for a genre as reliant on feel and collaboration as jazz, having a new face in a trio has got to be a game changer. drastic in terms of experience. to work with someone, to play with them musically and in terms of stage presence, as well as the writing and improvisation aspect of music.
“Yeah, I’ll be honest, it’s been really positive, it felt really fresh to me, it goes with this idea of trying to move a little bit differently, in terms of what we’re writing and where we’re aiming for musically. We were able to incorporate some of that, thanks to what Jon brought in. He understands what we tried to do with the music, he knows what we want to keep, but he finds his own space in that.
“We tried to give him that space to do it, we allow him to bring his own personality, because at the end of the day that’s what we want with this band. We don’t want it to be that we dictate I’m not going to write music and then say, “now you play it exactly like that” I want them to bring their personality, their character and because of that I hope it becomes something more bigger than any of us. He becomes his own entity that’s almost alive in his own way, because it’s that combination of all those different elements and personalities and ideas.
It’s just as well that the band is trying this new direction and putting out the resulting new material through hectic UK and European tours, because there won’t be much respite next year either, when the band will follow its eponymous long-playing previous, with all the work that ensues, says Illingworth.
“We have quite a busy year after this tour, we still have a few more dates in the Netherlands, one in Athens, one in Barcelona, a few more sprinkled in. It keeps us very busy until the end of the year. Because it’s the first album release we’ve done in a while, there’s going to be a lot of press, so it’s the first part of the year, I just spent doing that.
“Personally, I will try to do my best to spend time at home with my family. I have a little boy who is three and a half years old, and it’s going to be my first experience of going on tour, and being away for a good month or a month and a half, and it’s going to be quite difficult.
“A lot of people ask us if there are going to be any other projects or things going on, but I think I’m going to do my best to just be at home, spend time with family, relax and once the album will come out, it’s still going to be busy. We still have possible tours in Australia, Japan, North America, so I think it’s going to go very quickly.
GoGo Penguin plays a sold-out show at Everyman on McCurtain Street on Friday night. October 28. Kick-off at 10 p.m., find out here.
Find out more at guinnesscorkjazz.com