First acts announced for the Bray Jazz Festival

The Bray Jazz Festival will host one of the biggest names in jazz, when it returns for its 21st year on the May bank holiday weekend.

Rammy-winning guitarist Bill Frisell, who has released more than 40 albums in a career spanning more than four decades and appeared on more than 300 recordings, will headline the festival’s opening night at Mermaid Arts Center on Friday, April 29.

“He’s a huge jazz star and we’re delighted to be able to bring Bill Frisell to Bray, as we return after a two-year Covid-enforced break,” said festival director George Jacob.

“The last time Bill performed in Ireland was in the main auditorium of the National Concert Hall in Dublin, which seats over 1,200 people. Bringing him to Bray is quite a blow for us.

As the festival returns with what Jacob describes as a “slightly reduced” schedule in 2022, he says they’ve managed to attract big names and real musical diversity to the lineup for May’s event.

“Not only do we have one of the biggest names in American jazz playing this year, we also have an artist who is one of the leaders of a new urban jazz scene in the UK – Yazz Amhed, and with the Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen we will bring a musician considered by many to be the best European jazz pianist.

“There’s a huge buzz at the moment around Yazz Ahmed, who is at the forefront of a really vibrant London scene. She was recently nominated for Group of the Year and Album of the Year by Jazz FM in the UK.

Bray Jazz will present double-billed programs each night at the Mermaid Arts Center this year – a recognition, says George Jacob – both of their desire to provide as many opportunities as possible for Irish musicians on this year’s billing – and also, to give the festival goers who may have missed Bray Jazz during its Covid absence, something a little more for their evening.

“We have received a lot of very positive feedback since we announced our return. We can’t wait to come back with something a bit special in 2022, and with the program that’s in place this spring, we think we will,” he said.

During the holiday weekend, Bray Jazz will also host a host of international players.

Bray Jazz will present two daytime matinees over the May bank holiday weekend at the Mermaid Arts Centre, hold early evening recitals at Bray Town Hall, a packed program of live music on the festival’s Harbor Stage at the Harbor Bar, and a schedule of free “jazz track” programs at various bars and restaurants in the city. Over the bank holiday weekend, the festival will also hold an educational workshop for music students and those interested in the workings of jazz, in collaboration once again with Music Generation Wicklow.

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