Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

May festival: Ethan Iverson, Orchestra Baobab and the Georgia Cécile Quintet are among the top acts for the Bray Jazz Festival in Ireland

County Wicklow's Bray Jazz Festival in Ireland hosts an exceptionally strong springtime national and international line-up this year. Top acts to appear include Ethan Iverson, Orchestra Baobab and the Georgia Cécile Quintet. Glasgow singer Georgia …

Published: 21 Feb 2024. Updated: 49 days.

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County Wicklow's Bray Jazz Festival in Ireland hosts an exceptionally strong springtime national and international line-up this year. Top acts to appear include Ethan Iverson, Orchestra Baobab and the Georgia Cécile Quintet.

Glasgow singer Georgia wowed with 'Harpoon' particularly from the splendid Only the Lover Sings in 2021. US player Iverson - read an interview here with the pianist circa earlier album Common Practice - released his latest album for Blue Note earlier this winter. Entitled Technically Acceptable the release included Iverson originals 'Victory is Assured (Alla Breve)' and 'It's Fine to Decline' plus a version of 'Round Midnight' with, uniquely, the melody played on a theremin.

If unfamiliar with the Senegalese supergroup Orchestra Baobab, above, we suggest that you read former BBC Arena producer Jenny Cathcart's excellent book Notes From Africa: A Musical Journey with Youssou N’Dour published in 2019 for a wider pan-African context first ahead of the gig. It will certainly whet your appetite if thinking of attending Bray this year intent on hearing some of Dakar's finest live.

Other acts among the line-up we recommend are the Zoe Rahman Quintet - we reckoned that pianist-composer Zoe's album Colour of Sound was the best UK and Ireland release of 2023. Zoe, who hails from Chichester in Sussex, was strongly influenced early in her career by Joanne Brackeen and appears in a double bill with the Irish based Meilana Gillard Quartet. Saxist Meliana was impressive on RGB Trio last year that we thought displayed some of the tenorist's best work on record in a decade.

Also for Bray is US trumpet icon Dave Douglas in our A-list 10 track Spotify playlist acing 'A Train' currently with James Brandon Lewis. Dave is appearing with English saxophonist Trish Clowes whose latest album, a duo affair Journey to Where, is out in March via Birmingham label Stoney Lane. Douglas recorded one of his best albums actually in Bray at the festival in 2007. That was called Moonshine.

Dates are 3-5 May. Check out what's going down on the fringe too. Festival venues include the Town Hall, Mermaid Arts Centre, Whale Theatre in Greystones and Harbour Bar. Full line-up details. Ethan Iverson, photo: Keith Major. Orchestra Baobab, photo: Jonas Karlsson

ALSO ON IN MAY

  • Over in the south-west of England the annual Cheltenham Jazz Festival also takes place over the early May bank holiday weekend there. Dates are 1-6 May. Info. Headliners this year include Dionne Warwick, Courtney Pine, Gregory Porter, who plays Cork in the week leading up to Samhain, Clare Teal and Katharine Timoney, the Berts scene risen star who also appears at F-Live back in Ireland in the autumn.

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Anaïs Reno, At PizzaExpress Live in London, PX ***1/2

A very capable Dinner Jazz sound from US based Geneva-born singer Anaïs Reno (born 2003) on a standards strewn presentation - the clue to it suiting that much later specific Jazz FM championed genre in its Helen Mayhew first heyday is given by the …

Published: 21 Feb 2024. Updated: 3 months.

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A very capable Dinner Jazz sound from US based Geneva-born singer Anaïs Reno (born 2003) on a standards strewn presentation - the clue to it suiting that much later specific Jazz FM championed genre in its Helen Mayhew first heyday is given by the title Irving Berlin's 'Supper Time' itself. Ethel Waters introduced the song in 1933 on Broadway in the music theatre revue As Thousands Cheer. Vocals versions down the years have included treatments by Ella Fitzgerald, Audra McDonald and the most recent of these, by Roberta Gambarini.

Reno had already debuted as a 16-year-old with Lovesome Thing. Here it is pianist Pete Malinverni - who for many years was Minister of Music at the African-American Devoe Street Baptist Church in Brooklyn - offering impactful support. UK double bass great Dave Green who is also on PX appearing on the label's first release last year known for his tenure in Scott Hamilton's UK band is also on the record as is the Stacey Kent luminary drummer Josh Morrison who on a 2023 release contributed noteworthily on Nick Costley-White's Nice Work!

We liked the slower number, Billy Joel's 'And So It Goes,' best, a track that comes at the end of the album, Malinverni taking it up quite a few keys higher than you might know it from Storm Front. A coincidence in this preference because Joel song, and his first release in many years 'Turn the Lights Back On' has been an earworm with us in recent weeks and we are listening to it once again as we finish off typing this piece. The standards choices are also pretty OK. A new version of 'The Girl From Ipanema,' however, decent and all it is, and it is, we can do without right now.

Anaïs Reno, photo: TradePhotographer