First published in 2014. In an added extra at the Sligo Jazz Festival this year in the atrium of the Model, the arts centre home to the extraordinary Niland collection of Jack B. Yeats paintings, and earlier at lunchtime in St Edward’s school where the Sligo Jazz Project’s summer school has been taking place, actor Barry Cullen performed a monologue based on interviews the great comedian and writer Spike Milligan, who had deep Sligo roots, granted to a number of writers, airing Spike’s thoughts about jazz and the music's extraordinary effect on him. The young actor drew on the tenderness and passion of Milligan in his performance, the Goon’s words interspersed with clips of music by Bill Evans, Django Reinhardt, and Ornette Coleman.
At the Hawk’s Well theatre later in the evening the Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah band was delayed as the airline had lost some of the band’s luggage, so the band ending up taking to the stage an hour late, the set not quite as planned with missing instruments a factor. Scott, sporting a smart snood-type scarf, was unabashed, exuberant as he dug into bravura solo breaks playing his customised Dizzy-like trumpet with its horn set at a rakish angle.
Pianist Lawrence Fields' style was characterised by strongly rhythmic quartal harmony all night on the Steinway before switching to Fender Rhodes for the encore. The front line was Scott, alto saxophonist Braxton Cook, tart and tough when needed, and the very impressive 19-year-old flautist/vocalist Elena Pinderhughes new in the band this past week, a presidential scholar at the Manhattan School of Music. Her style recalled a young Bobbi Humphrey. Corey Fonville (in the photo, just visible to the right of Scott) was a strong and active polyrhythmic presence on drums laying back a little on the featured vocal spots when the band were joined by Scott’s wife singer Isadora Mendez Scott. The couple married last year and held hands at one point on stage. Scott has real personality when he plays, displaying strong involving soloing momentum, his tunes blessed with a strong melodic anthemic sense channelling Milesian jazz-rock and scintillating meta-funk rhythms referencing Scott’s New Orleans roots. Bassist Kris Funn was a busy presence throughout and needed to be as the tension was ratcheted up. Scott’s garrulous band intros, at least five minutes long for each musician, were far too much but apart from this it was an engrossing set, protest song ‘Ku Klux Police Department’, commenting on police brutality, the highlight.
Later at Sligo music venue Fifth on Teeling (pictured) tutors and students performed and jammed on two stages, the North and South Irish Jazz Allstars led by Belfast trumpeter Linley Hamilton who had earlier emceed at the Hawk’s Well, the main draw. Hamilton was joined by the great jazz writer Mingus biographer Brian Priestley on keyboards, Mike Nielsen, guitar, Matthew Halpin and Cathal Roche, saxophones, Damian Evans, bass, and Steve Davis, drums. On a separate student stage tucked in near the Fifth on Teeling front door flautist Sarah Chaplin was among the jammers to make a strong impression as summer school participants took to the stand adding to the lively atmosphere until well into the wee small hours.