Review: Rosslare Jazz Festival

The boppish Phil Ware Duo combined with the Latin frisson of Cuba Libre make for a promising start to Rosslare's first jazz festival, says Dave Jones

Judging by the response from the audiences, venues and musicians, Rosslare’s first ever jazz festival seems to have been a success, and although I wasn’t there to witness the opening night’s jam session on Thursday at Redmond’s, I’m reliably given to understand that it was well attended by listeners and sitters-in. Unfortunately, I can’t comment a great deal on Friday night’s events either, as I was playing a trio gig at the golf club with Wexford’s Kevin Lawlor (drums) and Cork’s David Duffy (bass), but in factual terms I can say that we were very well received by a room full of listeners to our two sets of Jones and Lawlor originals, together with a few standards.
The audience for the Phil Ware Duo (pictured) on Saturday afternoon might have been relaxing before the gig in the balmy atmosphere of Kelly’s Resort Hotel bar, but pianist Ware and bassist Damian Evans were soon Relaxin’ At Camarillo with Parker in their hard-swinging set of high quality bop. Ware’s piano style in this context was such that listeners could have been forgiven for thinking that another Kelly (Wynton) was in the room, with Evans providing agile solos, and an unflinching pulse for Ware’s piano explorations. The carefully chosen material (including one Ware original) ventured into more modern rhythmic and harmonic territory on Miles’s Solar, on Bye Bye Blackbird, and Speak Low, but the remainder of the set consisted of bop interpretations of standards including Ellington’s ballad Chelsea Bridge, and a tendency towards bossa nova later in the set with Jobim’s How Insensitive and bossa nova-style interpretations of The Man I Love and the apt for the occasion Alone Together, before closing with a Timmonsesque Work Song.
The festival’s outdoor closer on Saturday night at the Cedars Hotel featured Wexford’s own Cuba Libre!, a four-piece band with Kevin Lawlor (drums), Patrick Molitor (piano), Steve Tierney (electric bass), and Chris Culloton (electric guitar), who played a set of nicely varied Latin jazz-orientated material, including Afro Blue, A Night in Tunisia, Favela, El Goucho, No Me Esqueca, St. Thomas, and Song For My Father. The rhythm pairing of Lawlor and Tierney clearly work together a great deal, with Tierney’s nimble, Motown-style bass sound complemented by Lawlor’s light but effective drum work, which moved into more animated territory when appropriate, supporting Culloton’s melodic, delicate guitar, and Molitor’s piano which increased in stature as the performance progressed. The warm reception from the large audience for this final event reflected the overall success of this first festival, which will hopefully lead to many more at Rosslare.

Photo by Bill Kelly

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