Huge line-up for the Sligo Jazz Festival which starts on July 19

The Sligo Jazz Festival returns from July 19-24 with an eclectic mix of fusion, straight bop, modern and ambient jazz and funk featuring some of the greatest performers from Europe and the USA.

he main concert program at Hawk’s Well Theater featuring artists from the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, USA and Italy, is complemented by a plethora of free events at various venues, such as the iconic Hargadons afternoon sessions. This is where various members of the faculty and guests of the Sligo Jazz Project Summer School appear each day in the most intimate setting, and the twice-daily jam sessions at Andersons which feature attendees and summer school tutors.

The eclectic line-up of major concerts includes this year’s artist-in-residence, award-winning British composer and bandleader Nikki Iles performing with a specially assembled jazz band on Thursday 21 July featuring, among others, guitarist Mike Walker, for who Nikki wrote several pieces of music, Ryan Quigley and two of the UK’s most famous jazz saxophonists, Paul Booth and Tony Kofi. Nikki’s husband, Pete Churchill, one of the UK’s most famous jazz vocal educators and arrangers, will also appear along the way. They are joined by Irish and international artists who make up the largest faculty to date – twenty-nine musicians – at the summer school.

Norwegian jazz tuba player Daniel Herskedal brings his trio to Ireland for the first time with an exclusive Irish performance on Wednesday July 19, rising star of the New York jazz scene Ashley Pezzotti performs on Friday 22 in one of the many doubleheaders at this year’s festival, an all-star opening night with TRYPL (UK) and a stellar international rhythm section. Combined with the annual Summer School, Europe’s largest and most inclusive, taking place at ATU Sligo, this week always offers equal measures of education, entertainment and inspiration.

As festival artistic director Eddie Lee says: “We look forward to welcoming our many summer school attendees back to Sligo after a two year absence from physical events, there will be plenty of love and joy for the events of this year”.

Sisters do it for themselves at Sligo Jazz 2022

With all the talk of gender equality circulating lately, it is heartening to note that the Sligo Jazz Project is leading the way in the most impressive line-up at this year’s festival and summer school. The Sligo Jazz Festival and Summer School run concurrently from 19th to 24th July, with workshops and masterclasses each day and jam sessions and concerts every evening and every night.

Award-winning British composer Nikki Iles as Artist-in-Residence this year, will give special workshops, masterclasses, daily and lead a specially assembled 18-piece jazz orchestra in a unique performance of her special works on Thursday 21 July at Falcon’s Well Theatre.

Nikki Iles has worked with many jazz legends such as Kenny Wheeler, Stan Sulzmann, Norma Winstone, Dave Holland, Tina May and Rufus Reid. With over 30 CDs recorded over 3 decades, she has been described as ‘the heroine of British jazz’. His concert will bring together the faculty and stellar guests of Sligo Jazz to perform his exciting music for Jazz Orchestra. Nikki has won several Ivor Novello Awards and was recently awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2022 Queen’s New Year Honors List. Featured soloists include Mike Walker, who has appeared twice in Sligo as as members of the “Impossible Gentlemen”, Ryan Quigley and Paul Booth, to name but a few members of this truly international group of stars.

Nikki is not the only star of the Sligo Jazz Festival 2022 bill, with singers Christine Tobin and New York singer Ashley Pezzotti leading the quartets on Tuesday July 19 and Friday July 22 respectively. Christine Tobin has had many accolades in her successful career, including winning Best Singer at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and has resided on the London and New York jazz scenes at various times. Now back in Ireland, she resides in County Roscommon with her jazz guitarist partner Phil Robson, who is also headlining the 2022 festival in Sligo and teaching faculty at the ATU Summer School Sligo. Ashley Pezzotti is one of the rising stars of the New York jazz scene, performing regularly at Birdland and other iconic venues. Ashley has been a guest performer several times with Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra, and has gone quite viral in recent years on social media with her scat renditions of classic jazz solos.

Award winning saxophonist at Sligo Jazz 2022

Sligo Jazz Project (July 19-24) welcomes top musicians each year for its International Jazz Festival and Summer School.

This year, one of the UK’s top saxophonists, Tony Kofi, joins the SJP faculty, fresh from this year’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards ceremony where he won Best Jazz Instrumentalist 2022, and performs three times at the festival.

On Saturday, July 23, in a lunchtime doubleheader at Andersons, Tony Kofi presents the music of jazz legend Thelonious Monk, with the help of an international team of stellar musicians. A multi-instrumentalist born to Ghanaian parents, Tony plays alto, baritone, soprano, tenor saxophones and the flute. Having “cut his teeth” in the “Jazz Warriors” of the early 90s, he has established himself as a musician, teacher and composer of a certain authority. In addition to performing and recording with Gary Crosby’s “NuTroop” and “Jazz Jamaica”, Tony’s playing has also been a feature of many bands and artists he has worked/recorded with, including “US-3” The World Saxophone Quartet, Courtney Pine, Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson, The David Murray Big Band, Sam Rivers Rivbe Big Band, Andrew Hill Big Band, Abdullah Ibrahim, Macy Gray, Julian Joseph Big Band, Harry Connick JR, Byron Wallen’s Indigo, Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s Coltrane Configurations and Ornette Coleman. His fluid and fiery hard-bop style makes him constantly in demand. He currently conducts his own Tony Kofi Quartet, Portrait of Cannonball (Music dedicated to Cannonball Adderley) Tony Kofi and the Organisation, a recent project which he co-leads on baritone saxophone, and is also co-founder with Jonathan Gee of the Monk Liberation Front, a band dedicated to the music of Thelonious Monk.

Tony also appears as part of the Nikki Iles Jazz Orchestra on Thursday July 21 and as part of the SJP All Stars on Saturday July 23.

Award-winning Norwegian jazz tuba player

Daniel Herskedal is the enigmatic master of sound and sonic beauty. His music flows back and forth with absolute grace and balance, perfectly fusing the spirit of jazz with the art of classical music composition.

You rarely hear a musician of such depth, such emotional intensity and such virtuosity who simultaneously pushes the limits of his instrument to the extreme.

Endowed with a real melodic resonance, Daniel Herskedal is an extremely gifted and dynamic composer.

His music breathes and is full of life. While his last 3 albums have garnered him huge praise and adoring fans, this new music expands on direction and is inspired by ‘Mistral Noir’, the opening track from his ‘Slow Eastbound Train’ album. , performed entirely solo, layering tuba and bass trumpet in a way that is both haunting and sublimely beautiful.

He is a composer of highly original, beautifully lyrical and rhythmic music inspired by the beautiful Norwegian landscape and a world-class performer on Tuba, an instrument he made himself.

Daniel Herskedal’s latest album Harbor cements his position as one of the most exciting, prolific and inspiring musicians of his generation in Europe.

Daniel Herskedal presents Hawk’s Well Theatre, at 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 20.

Season tickets can be purchased for the entire concert series for just €80, by calling Hawk’s Well Box Office on 071 9161518. All concert tickets are available via or Download the program from sligojazz. ie

Willie J. Johnson