Bray Jazz Festival Announces 2024 Programme

Zoe Rahman (Photo: Ilze Kitshoff)

Bray Jazz Festival Announces 2024 Programme

Festival takes place from 3 to 5 May; Orchestra Baobab, Zoe Rahman, Meilana Gillard, Ethan Iverson, Dave Douglas, Carole Nelson Trio, Collider, the Scott Flanigan trio and more to perform.

Bray Jazz Festival has announced the programme for this year’s event, taking place over the May bank holiday weekend (3–5 May). The festival, which is now in its 23rd year, will present 24 events across a range of genres as well as a free fringe series in venues in Bray and Greystones. 

The opening night features British jazz pianist Zoe Rahman and her quintet, comprising alto saxophonist Camilla George, tenor saxophonist Tori Freestone, drummer Mark Mondesir and bassist Alec Dankworth. Rahman, who released her seventh album Colour of Sound in 2023, will be supported on the night by Derry-based tenor saxophonist Meilana Gillard and her quartet, including guitarist Phil Robson, drummer Kevin Brady and bassist Barry Donohue.

Senegal 10-piece Orchestra Baobab will perform at the Mermaid Arts Centre on 4 May. The band blends a range of styles, including Wolof, Portuguese Creole, French, Malinke, soul, salsa, jazz, reggae and country. ‘Jazz in the Round’ a trio led by guitarist Tommy Halftery, and including bassist Cormac O’Brien and pianist Greg Felton, will open for Orchestra Baobab on the night. 

On Sunday, acclaimed New York trumpeter Dave Douglas will perform with British saxophonist Trish Clowes for a concert celebrating the American composer and musician Wayne Shorter. They perform at Mermaid with a quintet featuring Hammond organist Ross Stanley, bassist Chris Montague and drummer Joel Barford. Opening for the quintet on the night is Next Experiment, a Dublin-based band blending Latin American and jazz sounds – led by Venezuelan pianist Leo Osio and featuring Italian saxophonist Gianni Gagliardi, Spanish drummer Gonzalo Del Val, Peter Erdei from Hungary on bass, and Irish trombonist Paul Dunlea. 

Performing at Bray Town Hall on 5 May are the duo of Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Irish fiddle player Aoife Ní Bhriain, who last year released their debut album Double You, reviewed here in the Journal of Music, and which was nominated for Best Folk Album at this year’s RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards.  

Glasgow jazz singer Georgia Cécile performs on 3 May, Syrian/French flautist Naïssam Jalal and Armenian/French double bassist Claude Tchamitchian perform at Bray Town Hall on 3 May, and New York pianist and bandleader George Colligan performs at the Whale Theatre in Greystones on 4 May with an ensemble including Belgian alto saxophonist Stéphane Mercier, drummer Darren Beckett and Irish bassist Dave Redmond.

Also on the line-up is the Peltomaa Fraanje Perkola trio, who blend early music, jazz, Finnish folk music and contemporary (3 May), American jazz pianist Ethan Iverson, with a trio including drummer Sean Carpio and Jeppe Skovbakke on bass (4 May), and Berlin-based pianist Marie Kruttli playing an afternoon show on 5 May. 

Fringe and late-night
There will also be a series of free fringe concerts taking place at the Harbour Bar with musicians such as the Carole Nelson Trio, Chris Guilfoyle’s Collider, Dublin funk band Shy Mascot, post-rock band ÄTSCH, the Gustavo de Morais Trio, vocalist and cellist Aleka Potinga, the Lee Mehan Quintet, Stella Bass and The Johnny Taylor Trio, and Bik Sam – a trio featuring South Korean pianist So-Young Yoon, Brazilian drummer Andre Antunes and bassist Dave Mooney.

New to the festival this year is ‘After Hours’, a series of late-night pop-up shows at a new venue in the gallery space at the Mermaid. Featured in the series is the Scott Flanigan Trio, Phil Robson’s Organ Trio, and the trio of Halpin/Jermyn/Beckett. The festival has arranged a subsidised bus service for attendees, stopping off at local locations including Wicklow town and Dublin city centre. 

‘We’re really looking forward to returning on the May Bank Holiday weekend,’ said festival director George Jacob. ‘Particularly pleasing this year has been the number of women bandleaders and performers on the bill. For the past decade we’ve been trying to improve the gender balance in our programme at Bray Jazz Festival. In 2024 we have more women band leaders than ever before, which is a testimony to the great women creatives who are now working in improvised music – both here at home in Ireland, and internationally.’

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Published on 7 March 2024

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