In the busy schedule of jazz festivals taking place in Europe there is one that is particularly popular. Organised in Northern Ireland’s second largest city, the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival features a solid lineup filled with some of the UK’s finest artists.
There is no better way to spend the Bank Holiday Weekend in Northern Ireland than attending the 2014 City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival. From 1 to 5 May, Londonderry – or simply Derry, as it is most commonly known – will welcome all jazz enthusiasts for a big celebration.
Derry Loves Its Jazz!
On opening day, Derry Jazz will welcome rising star Anthony Strong and the electrifying Jive Aces.
Since releasing his debut major label record last year, jazz singer, pianist and songwriter Anthony Strong has been featured on the front page of the prestigious Le Figaro and has performed in front of millions of fans on the German television. What has been described by the British press as “England’s new jazz superstar” released an EP that reached #1 on the UK jazz charts.
In addition, Strong has shared the stage with high-profile artists like Michael Bolton and Kyle Eastwood, spent 9 months in the West End as Jerry Lee Lewis in the show Million Dollar Quartet and has performed all over Europe, including 12 sold-out gigs at Paris’ legendary Duc Des Lombards.
Because of his success, he was signed by the iconic French label Naïve – home of multi-million selling singers Adele, Katie Melua and Carla Bruni. On opening night, he will be on scene at the Spiegeltent stage (8 pm).
The Jive Aces are probably the UK’s most entertaining live jive and swing act. Winners of the BBC TV show Opportunity Knocks and semi-finalists at Britain’s Got Talent in 2012, they are known for their records and high-energy performances in festivals around Europe, as well as for their charity work. On 1 May, the return to Derry, where they were awarded the 2006 City of Derry International Music Award. Get ready for this exciting and free-of-charge concert!
Singer Dana Masters was born in Columbus, Ohio, but has been an in-demand name in the Belfast music scene for a while. Her vocal skills and the ability to swing across various genres, soul, gospel and jazz in particular, have earned her a regular slot in Bert’s on Sunday nights, as well as concerts with some of Northern Ireland finest jazzmen. At the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival, she will be supported by the renowned jazz band the Masters of Jazz: Linley Hamilton on the trumpet, David Howell on the sax, pianist Scott Flanigan, bassist Carl Harvey and Steve Davis on drums (2 May, 8 pm).
On the same day, the atmosphere at Derry Jazz Festival will be filled with the vibrant folk of Kate Rusby. Sometimes known as The Barnsley Nightingale, she is one of the most famous contemporary English folk singers.
Hailed “a superstar of the British acoustic scene” by the Guardian and “the first lady of young folkies” by the BBC, she is one of the very few folk vocalists to have been nominated for the Mercury Prize. At the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival 2014, Kate Rusby will play her most popular compositions, including songs from her latest album 20.
Always on 2 May, the festival will feature the eclectic mix of jazz, Motown sounds, big band and modern-day music of the Brass Impact Big Band. Considered one of Scotland’s favourite music acts, this 11-piece musical extravaganza – whose members span the generations, aged from 20 to 60 – will give you a full big band experience.
At the Derry Jazz Festival 2014, visitors will also have the opportunity to travel back in time with Play House Speak Easy Bar Cabaret. On 2, 3 and 4 May, you will get the chance to experience the excitement of the prohibition era and enjoy live shows and jam sessions in a sumptuous 1930s-styled speakeasy club setting. Dance the night away with some great music while enjoying a variety of “prohibition” cocktails.
And make sure to obtain the secret password to gain access to a night of forbidden fun!
Gypsy Sounds, DLD and More Exciting Acts
Gypsy-jazz lovers should get ready for the jazz festival special Gypsy Folk Klub (2 May, from 9 pm at Sandinos).
Join Dublin-based instrumental group The North Strand Kontra Band and enjoy a show filled with Romania and Bulgaria-influenced music. And to have a 360° experience, don’t miss Derry’s folk fusion band Balkan Alien Sound and the international mix of contemporary world music, roots, folk and jazz between sets from Gypsy Folk Radio DJ.
And because you are great, you will get free Balkan home brewed punch on entry!
It’s going to be a great Saturday at the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival 2014! In addition to several young musicians from throughout the city, who will animate the Spiegeltent stage (Guindhall Square) on both Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 May, the festival will welcome a cast of talented acts.
Festival regular Paul Mc Intyre will return to the Playhouse (2 pm) along with special guests Dave Fleming on double bass and drummer Myles Drennan, while David Lyttle will be the star of the evening (8 pm).
Described as “a one-man industry” by Hot Press Magazine for his work as versatile performer, writer, producer and record label owner, Lyttle bring his new album Interlude to Derry, after much-praised shows in London and Los Angeles.
At the 2014 Derry Jazz Festival, David Lyttle will be accompanied by his David Lyttle Trio, which features teenage guitar star Andreas Varady. Following his debuted at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival back in 2012, Varady was offered a management deal by the legendary Quincy Jones. Under Q’s guidance, the young guitarist signed to Verve Records and has just return from recording an album for the historic label in L.A.
On 3 May, it will also be time for the DLD Second Line Jazz Parade and “An Evening with Anne Tracey & Friends”.
From 1 pm, the Londonderry city centre will be full with the loud, stompin’ and street sounds of the DLD Second Line Jazz Parade. The second line street performances have always been connected to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Furthermore, second Line NI has been working closely with the JayDee Brass Band, local musicians of all ages, schools and community groups to form the city’s first jazz parade. Get your umbrellas and dancing shoes ready, it’s going to be fun!
On Saturday evening, Anne Tracey will present an eclectic mix of music and song to her friends, family and all festival guests (8 pm at Holywell). With performances by local and international artists, Tracey promises an unforgettable musical event.
Starting from 9 pm, the Corinthian Ballroom at the City Hotel will be filled with music that pays tribute to Glenn Miller and the golden era of jazz. Despite his premature death at the age of 40, Glenn Miller is remembered today as one of jazz’s icons for the music he produced. If you want to enjoy a true 1940s-like atmosphere, with swing sensations like In the Mood, A String of Pearls and Little Brown Jug, make sure to attend this wonderful show.
Benningan’s Jazz Club, Under the Boardwalk and the Grand Finale
Paul Mc Intyre and his trio will be back, along with a series of special guests, on Sunday 4 May (9 pm). On the same night, Sandinos venue will become a jumpin’, jivin’ and wailin’ den of inequity that is the Rumble Club. With fan-favourites Carmen Ghia and the Hot Rods and legendary rockabilly DJ “Jamboree” Gerry Robinson is going to be an incredible high energetic dancing show for everyone.
Jazz music will be in the air long before that though. In fact, from 6 pm, like every Sunday, the popular Bennigans Bar will turn into the Benningan’s Jazz Club. With gigs by the Meilana Gillard Quintet – led by saxophonist and New York’s New School graduate Meilana Gillard – and John Leighton, the man behind Derry’s weekly jazz club, and multi-award winning vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, Benningans is going to be the hottest jazz venue in Northern Ireland!
Singer James Huish will return to the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival with an unmissable show that features his interpretation of jazz and swing classics and a tribute to Michael Bublé (9 pm, Waterfoot Hotel).
At the same time, the City Hotel’s Corinthian Ballroom will host Under the Boardwalk, a celebration of the Drifters Music spanning over 50 years.
Get ready for a spectacular two-hour trip down memory lane with Gillie Leroy Jones and his band. Backed with the legend Memphis Groove, the group will be joined on stage by Plunkett Mc Combe and an explosive full-brass section.
For the Festival Finale, Da Vinci’s Hotel will welcome the world’s renowned swing-pop trio the Puppini Sisters (8 pm)!
Join Marcella Puppini, Kate Mullins and Emma Smith for a show that celebrates the fashions of the 1930s and ’40s in true classic style. Combining their own arrangements of old classics, jazzy reinventions of rock hits and self-penned original songs, the Puppinis will make Derry fall in love with their music. And to make everything even more exciting, they will be joined by two other spectacular acts: the Jive Aces and JayDee Brass Band. Dust off your dancing shoes and be prepared to throw some impressive shapes at the Festival Finale!
If you will still have energy after the night of party, local jazz favourites the Derry Jazz Quartet will provide the background for a relaxing afternoon of jazz classics in the lounge bar of the City Hotel…an excellent way to end the festival celebration.
Happy City of Derry Jazz Festival 2014!
1 – 5 May