LIMERICK will make strides towards the upper reaches of the jazz world this week as the third annual festival kicks off.
The Limerick Jazz Festival starts this Thursday with a fleetingly rare appearance by Van Morrison in the University Concert Hall - offering a a memorable homecoming for one of the city’s finest, Dave Keary, from the North Circular Road, who has been a guitarist for the past four years with Morrison.
Two Grammy award winners appear on the bill as David Sanborn plays in the Lime Tree on Saturday night after Morrison opens the festival.
Sanborn - one of the world’s most influential saxophonists - will also be joined by the “incredible” jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco for the Lime Tree show.
“He is a headline act himself, and he is playing, which is the icing on the cake,” explained John Daly of Limerick Jazz Society who run the festival.
“If you listen back to most of the contemporary artists of the 80s, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Billy Joel, David Sanborn was on all those albums. He was the most in demand musician at that time.
“It is a coup - I know you have to pay for these guys, but the fact that they were willing to come is a good thing,” added John.
The festival, backed by City of Culture, the Arts Council and Failte Ireland, also includes The Dublin City Jazz Orchestra, Nigel Mooney and Richie Buckley, as well as UK saxophonist Julian Siegel and the Crisis Point Big Band on a very impressive bill, one that rivals any in the country, Daly says.
“We have been promoting jazz, often against the tide, in Limerick for over 30 years but this is undoubtedly our biggest week ever,” he said.
“We have brought some great international artists to the city before but this year’s festival is at an all new level.”
The well rounded programme includes a jazz trail through Jerry Flannery’s Bar, the George and South’s pub, as well as masterclasses in venues such as the Hunt Museum and the Limerick City Gallery.
The Crisis Point Big Band will perform in the Clarion on Sunday. The festival runs until Sunday.
See www.limerickjazzfestival.com for more details.