What’s happening at the 2019 Guinness Cork Jazz Festival (The Main Events & The Fringe Festival)

2 October 2019
By Bryan Smyth

01: The Main Event

Jazz musician, Gary Baus, and swing dancers, Laura Hicks and Ferran Mata, pictured launching the 42nd Guinness Cork Jazz Festival which returns to Cork City from Thursday 24th – Monday 28th October, with headline gigs taking place in Cork City Hall and the Everyman.

Guinness recently launched the full programme of events for the 42nd Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, which takes place over the bank holiday weekend from 24th to 28th October 2019.

The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is one of the biggest and longest-running events on the Irish music calendar. Every nook and cranny of Cork City will come alive across the festival weekend to the sounds of over 1,000 musicians and creative artists from more than 20 countries.

This year’s festival will host a fantastic array of top international headline jazz acts, including Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Kurt Elling, The Big Brass Band Explosion, Dr. Linley Hamilton Quintet, Fred Hersch Trio, Mica Paris, and Spyro Gyra.

Above: A sample of Kurt Ellings slick singing style!

Picture: Clare Keogh
Jazz musician, Gary Baus, and swing dancers, Laura Hicks and Ferran Mata, pictured launching the 42nd Guinness Cork Jazz Festival 
Picture: Clare Keogh

There’s also a great line up at the Metropole Festival Club, and an exciting fringe programme of free gigs and entertainment in over 70 city venues across the city.

This year we’re also looking forward to the Blaze of Jazz Parade, which will kick off the weekend on Friday 24th in spectacular ‘flare’. This family-friendly parade will feature a mix of red-hot jazz bands with fiery Cork characters in a dramatic musical march full of flaming antics. Other highlights include the Jazz Jamboree, Jazz Food Fair, and The Artistry of Frank Sinatra audio-visual event with more to be announced soon!

You could spend your time wandering from venue to venue, taking in free on-street sessions, but we also recommend booking tickets to at least one must-see acts on www.guinnessjazzfestival.com before it’s too late.

New York Brass band
Picture: Clare Keogh



1. British soul queen and platinum selling artist Mica Paris singing Ella Fitzgerald. Friday October 25th, The Everyman, 8pm

2. Booka Brass Band, Ireland’s first New Orleans style brass band.
Friday October 26th, Cork Opera House, 11.30pm

3. Prize winning saxophonist and composer Paul Booth followed by Tudo Bem’s celebration of the Music of Brazil at the much-loved Jazz at the Green Room sessions at Cork Opera House. Friday 25 October 2019, 10pm and midnight


4. Big Brass Band Explosion – Three amazing brass bands – The OhnO! Jazzband, Hyde Park Brass, and Les FanFlures – will play back to back in a gig guaranteed to knock your socks off. Saturday October 26th, The Everyman, 2pm

5. 14-time Grammy nominee Kurt Elling will pay tribute to jazz legends like Louis Armstrong, Nat “King” Cole, Jon Hendricks, Shirley Horn and Nancy Wilson. Saturday October 26th, Cork City Hall, 8pm.

6. American Jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra whose 30 albums have sold over 10 million copies over four decades. Saturday October 26th, The Everyman 8pm

7. Renowned ECM artist John Surman, who is known for expanding the horizons of jazz, will present a special concert with pianist Vigleik Storaas. Saturday October 26th, Triskel Christchurch, 8pm.


8. Northern Ireland’s famous Trumpeter Linley Hamilton is one of the most prolific figures in the jazz scene. Sunday October 27th, The Everyman, 2pm
9. Ariellle Besson, Sebastian Sternal & Jonas Bergwinkel Trio – Leading the new wave of young European improvising trumpeters, Airelle Besson will perform with pianist Sebastian Sternal, and drummer Jonas Burgwinkel.
Sunday October 27th, Triskel Arts Centre, 2.30pm

10. Motown diva and Grammy Hall of Famer, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, who is listed among Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Immortal Artists”.
Sunday October 27th, Cork City Hall, 8pm

11. 14-time Grammy nominee and 2018 Jazz Pianist of the Year, Fred Hersh, is flying in from the US with his jazz Trio. Sunday October 27th, The Everyman, 8pm

Also, to mark ECM record label’s 50th anniversary, Triskel Arts Centre has curated a weekend of concerts and cinema during the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival weekend.
Finally, you can’t miss out on the experience of attending a gig at the Metropole Festival Club, where a host of fresh new international talent will perform from the UK, France, Canada and Ireland. Entry is just €30 per person and will give you access to the entire hotel with jazz acts in four rooms including New York Brass, Pixie & The Gypsies, NC Grey and the Hyde Park Brass Band. The Metropole is also hosting a Jazz Platinum VIP Lounge this year where you can experience smooth purist jazz in an intimate setting with champagne and charcuterie boards, tapas and oysters for €75 per person.

At this year’s programme launch event, Councillor John Sheehan, Lord Mayor of Cork, welcomed the continued support of local businesses in 2019, “The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival attracts more than 40,000 people to Cork annually and is worth millions to the local economy. Its continued success is a testament to the fantastic team ethos that has evolved over the years between Guinness, the festival committee, local government and the local business community and I wish it every success once again in 2019.”

Michael Lyons, On-Trade Sales Manager, Diageo Ireland, is calling all music lovers and to experience the welcoming and party vibe in Cork for this year’s festival. “The festival has always boasted a line-up of music for the soul and we are thrilled to welcome some of the greatest musicians from the Jazz, RnB, Soul and Motown genres again this year. Those looking for a unique party atmosphere emanating from every part of the city have lots to look forward to with free gigs and fringe events for every palette.”

Fiona Collins, Chairperson of the Guinness Cork Jazz Committee commented, “The festival committee is delighted to work in partnership with Diageo Ireland, Cork City Council, Cork Business Association, Cork Chamber and businesses all over the city to create another fantastic weekend programme to be proud of and it’s a great opportunity to showcase the city and it’s welcoming vibe to thousands of Irish and overseas visitors”.

One of the acts this year is Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling – quite a coup for the festival!

02: The Fringe Festival

Meanwhile, there is also the Fringe Festival

The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival Committee has produced an exciting fringe programme of free gigs and on street entertainment in over 70 city venues making sure there’s something for everyone throughout the jazz weekend.

Here are our top picks of (mostly) free events on the Fringe, in order of date, where some of the most interesting and surprising things are likely to happen during the festival…

  1. Live at the Library – ‘LET’S SING’(…a jazz standard) presented by Grainne Ryan (featured vocalist at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, Kinsale) & Dr Ian Darrington MBE.  This practical session is aimed at those wanting to get into jazz singing and will involve learning at least one well-known jazz tune. The presentation will cover topics such as working with a rhythm section, importance of the lyrics, microphone technique and stage presentation.  Music Library, Cork City Library, Grand Parade. Wednesday 23rd October – 11am 
  1. How Brass instruments Work – presented by Dr Ian Darrington MBE. All ages are welcome to go along and hear how sounds are produced on trumpets and trombones. Try out the instruments for yourself and have fun learning all about brass instruments. Music Library, Cork City Library, Grand Parade Thursday 24th October, 11am 
  1. The Artistry of Frank Sinatra – From Saloon style ballads to Big Band classics, Frank Sinatra greatly influenced the history of popular music. Enjoy an audiovisual performance that will include some of his best-known songs performed live in an intimate theatre setting complete with the original and authentic arrangements. Tickets are €10.   Rory Gallagher Theatre, CIT – Thursday October 24th & Friday October 25th 
  1. Code of Behaviour – Hear the sound of this wonderful new young Cork brass band perform in the music library – the perfect way to kick off the afternoon! Music Library, Cork City Library, Grand Parade. Friday October 25th, 2pm. 
  1. Blaze of Jazz Parade – This year we’re especially looking forward to the Blaze of Jazz Parade which will officially open the festival in spectacular ‘flare’. This family-friendly parade will feature a mix of red-hot jazz bands with fiery Cork characters in a dramatic musical march full of flaming antics.  Cork City Centre, Friday October 25th, 7pm 
  1. Jazz on the Plaza – Visit the Super Dome Jazz Stage on the Opera House Plaza for live music throughout the afternoon. Emmet Place, Saturday October 26th and Sunday October 27th 2pm-5pm. 
  1. A Touch of Blarney – Enjoy a concert of light and popular music played by the award-winning Blarney Concert Band. Daunt’s Square Plaza, Saturday October 26th – 3.30 pm – 5-00 pm 
  1. Jazz Food Fair – A Monster Food Market will take place in Emmett Place all weekend with live jazz music and delicious eats on offer. Emmet Place, Saturday October 26th and Sunday October 27th 12pm-5pm. 
  1. Jazz Gospel Service – Join St. Anne’s celebratory and spiritual Harvest Jazz Service at Cork’s iconic church. This morning of jazz joy features St. John’s Gospel Choir and the New York Brass Band. It’s a free event, but tickets are limited and required for entry. St. Anne’s Church, Shandon, Sunday October 27th at 10.45 am. Sharp. Tickets are available from St. Anne’s, Shandon and the Jazz Committee 
  1. Jazz Jamboree – Join visiting European bands in a Farewell Gathering on Opera House Plaza. This great Jam Session will feature all the brass bands as they bid farewell to Cork and the Festival for this year. Emmett Place, Sunday October 27th at 5pm.

If you’re looking for a mix of jazz and coastal beauty over the weekend, then swing on down to the picturesque town of Kinsale in West Cork.  The Guinness Kinsale Jazz Fringe Festival has an exciting line-up of more than 100 free gigs, including the Blues Brothers, over the weekend.

On top of this exciting array of fringe events, no trip to the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival would be complete without a visit to the famous Jazz Festival Club at the Metropole Hotel.

Fans of swing, funk, groove, blues and dixieland will be well catered for with a vibrant mix of Irish and international acts on several stages throughout the hotel. Admission to the Festival Club is free on Friday 25th & Monday 28th October and during afternoon sessions. Saturday night 26th October & Sunday night October 27th – €30 each plus booking fee.

Festival goers can also enjoy Jazz by the Riverside in the River Lee Hotel on the Western Road all weekend with live music by Mayday Jazz Band and New York Brass Band.

The Irish Community Rapid Response Unit has been chosen as the Jazz Charity for 2019 by the Festival committee. Irish Community Rapid Response – By Land and Air are committed to providing safe, effective, and timely emergency medical care to those seriously ill or injured in Ireland through the provision of a network of volunteer doctors, Rapid Response Vehicles and a dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.

Fiona Collins, Chairperson of the Cork Jazz Festival Committee commented, “We’re really excited about this year’s Blaze of Jazz Parade.  What better place than the Rebel County and what better time than Halloween to lift spirits in this fire-breathing, skeleton-led, Blaze of Jazz? This flaming jazz spectacle will light fires in bellies and bring people to the streets. It is the perfect ceremony to kick-start our red-hot festival weekend.

 “The Guinness Cork Jazz Festival is a great opportunity to showcase the city and its welcoming vibe to thousands of Irish and overseas visitors, and we are delighted to have a strong programme of Fringe events again this year to complement the main programme. This would not be possible without the support of our volunteers, Guinness, Failte Ireland, Cork City Council, Cork Airport and local businesses.  We are also delighted to support the Irish Community Rapid Response Unit, a very deserving charity for this year’s Festival.”  

For more info and to book tickets see www.guinnessjazzfestival.com


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