Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

PJEV, Kit Downes, Hayden Chisholm, Medna Roso, Red Hook ****

An extraordinary choral, saxophone, pipe organ work recorded at Cologne's neogothic Catholic Agneskirche 18 months ago. The work relishes a process of transformation by crossing from both the temporal and spiritual spheres into an entirely other …

Published: 31 Mar 2023. Updated: 15 months.

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An extraordinary choral, saxophone, pipe organ work recorded at Cologne's neogothic Catholic Agneskirche 18 months ago. The work relishes a process of transformation by crossing from both the temporal and spiritual spheres into an entirely other worldly dimension.

Think of the way the Hilliard Ensemble and Jan Garbarek leapt the centuries and successfully collided the relative modernity of the saxophone into ancient monastic choral traditions on Officium and Mnemosyne in the 1990s.

But instead by some way of contrast Medna Roso, which introduces Zagreb based microtonal New Zealand saxophonist Hayden Chisholm, who also utilises the sound of the Indian bellows instrument the shruti box among his array of contributions, is in collaboration with the PJEV choir. Very still and often lament laden rising up from the fearful rumble of a great Rieger 3-manual pipe organ Kit Downes is a stately presence - think Keith Jarrett on 1970s album Hymns/Spheres.

Directed by Jovana Lukic this Zagreb a cappella 5 piece ensemble - whose members are also Zvezdana Ostojic, Gloria Lindeman, Lana Hosni and Julijana Lesic - sing the ancient and often deeply moving music of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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And while Medna Roso is not at all redolent of a Gurdjieff-type inspirational reverie that informed Jarrett so much down the years the outcome has somehow induced somehow a kind of autoscopy but certainly a strong numinous sense. Downes' work builds on a template set on Wedding Music, the Norwich now Berlin based musician's album with Huddersfield's Tom Challenger.

  • Medna Roso is out on 5 May. 'Listaj goro ne žali be’ara' is streaming. PJEV, main picture, and with Hayden Chisholm, above; Kit Downes top. Photos: Niclas Weber

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Artist-in-residence Tony Kofi and a new young-artist-in-residence Nils Kavanagh are announced for Sligo Jazz

Nottingham born saxophonist and bandleader Tony Kofi - known for his work with Gary Crosby's Nu Troop, Ornette Coleman and the Ukrainian harpist Alina Bzhezhinska - is the headlining artist-in-residence at this year's Sligo Jazz Project summer …

Published: 30 Mar 2023. Updated: 15 months.

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Nottingham born saxophonist and bandleader Tony Kofi - known for his work with Gary Crosby's Nu Troop, Ornette Coleman and the Ukrainian harpist Alina Bzhezhinska - is the headlining artist-in-residence at this year's Sligo Jazz Project summer school and festival. For the first time, in a Sligo innovation, a ''Young Artist in Residence'' will also figure for the 2023 edition of the gathering.

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The current Young Irish Jazz Musician of the Year Sligo pianist Nils Kavanagh is the 2023 choice. Nils Kavanagh, photo: Limerick Jazz

The 2023 faculty includes vocals tutors the great Liane Carroll and acclaimed singer Sara Colman. For saxophones Tony Kofi, Theresia Philipp, Cathal Roche and Micheál Murray are teaching in the summer while the 2023 trumpet tutor is once again Belfast icon Linley Hamilton whose Ginger's Hollow with his all-star Irish American band precedes the festival with a release in late-May. For piano students London based pianist Liam Noble and Belfast's Scott Flanigan who runs Scott's Jazz Club in the city are the experienced tutors booked for 2023, both no strangers to the banks of the Garavogue that runs through the legendary literary and music town within sight of mystical Knocknarea. For bass it's the Gwilym Simcock trio member Yuri Golubev, Derek Whyte and County Donegal's Conor Murray who has been touring with Glasgow singer Georgia Cécile in recent years. Guitar tutors are Derry scene rising star Joseph Leighton, Sligo's own Mike Nielsen and the great Ireland based Englishman Phil Robson who before Sligo is appearing at the Derry jazz festival in May. Other tutors include for drums and percussion Conor Guilfoyle, legendary drummer and percussionist Paul Clarvis whose album with Cathy Jordan and Liam Noble Freight Train has picked up strong word of mouth this year and Donaghadee's Steve ''Dakiz'' Davis, known for his work with Anthony Braxton and Alexander Hawkins.

The festival's artistic director No Crows bassist Eddie Lee comments that the Youth Academy is gaining strength. ''It's heartening to see so many great musicians appearing on the scene with some thanks to our work and the all-year-round dedication of Niamh Crowley, Stan Burns and Martin Moser at Sligo Academy of Music. We will be celebrating that great institution at our festival this year by featuring Sligo Academy of Music Jazz Orchestra and guests on Wednesday 26 July at the Hawk's Well Theatre, where all of our main festival concerts will take place.''

Weathering an untimely dearth of funding

The festival, Eddie explains, is ''weathering an untimely dearth of funding with a slightly lower key offering, one which relies on the strength of its past activities. In 2023 SJP will focus on the SJP summer school’s primary ethos, which is to promote jazz education in the region by bringing world class musicians to Sligo to teach and perform, inspire and educate, and subsequently SJP takes every opportunity possible to showcase its alumni.''

The popular festival element of the programme opens on Tuesday 25 July at 4.30pm in the historic 19th century O'Connell Street hostelry Hargadons situated in the cultural heart of Sligo Town.

Dates are 25-30 July. SJP’s Summer School and Youth Academy are now open for registration - details

Check marlbank nearer July for the full festival programme and updates. Tony Kofi main picture, photo: press