N. Ireland’s only Gypsy Jazz band. “Blue Jar combines the panache of Grappelli with Gypsy flamboyance, yet balances this passion with a dreamy, atmospheric classical sound”. The group has played throughout Europe and Africa and continue to play in...
N. Ireland’s only Gypsy Jazz band. “Blue Jar combines the panache of Grappelli with Gypsy flamboyance, yet balances this passion with a dreamy, atmospheric classical sound”. The group has played throughout Europe and Africa and continue to play in festivals throughout England and Ireland. Their second album “Pelican Crossing” is currently on general release They are now ‘doing’ the live gig and festival circuit, following the success of their album, and recent festival performances at the Cork Jazz Festival, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, and Greenbelt. They attend WOMEX, Spain in Oct, tour Cyprus and play at MEI, Italy in Nov
TOMMY LOCKE has been one of the busiest and most sought after guitarists in Ireland for the last thirty years. After studying at the Ulster College of Music, he has been heavily involved in a wide range of music with country, rock and jazz bands. He has toured extensively throughout Ireland, Britain, France, America and Canada with Roly Daniels. Tommy has made many recordings for television and radio and made six albums.
LESLEY DENNISON studied at Trinity College of Music, London, and has since free-lanced with many major orchestras throughout the UK and Ireland. With the Dennison String Quartet, she has performed and for film, TV and radio, and toured throughout the UK and Ireland with Music Network and Live Music Now She has made many recordings including the theme music for “Fatal Extraction” and “Field of Bones” and is included in the “Wildlife Album.”
SCOTT HERON studied cello at the Royal Academy of Music, London and has a Master of Performance from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He has played with many orchestras including the Ulster Orchestra, RTE Concert Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and Camerata, Ireland. He has toured and recorded extensively with the Brian Irvine Ensemble, Leya and the Dennison String Quartet.
With special guest IVAN BLACK, a world renowned musician, composer, arranger, teacher, adjudicator and multi-instrumentalist. He has played piano with the Ulster Orchestra, saxophone with Humphrey Littleton, P J Proby, Amici and Norman Wisdom, and accordion with Daniel O’Donnell. He has made over 20 albums and his work has taken him to Canada, USA, France, Germany, Holland and throughout Africa.
ChicagoJazz.net by Brad Walseth by Brad Walseth In a stirring bid for multiculturalism comes this wonderful gem of a recording called “Pelican Crossing” from a group called Blue Jar, who hail from — of all places, Belfast Ireland. What do these...
ChicagoJazz.net by Brad Walseth by Brad Walseth In a stirring bid for multiculturalism comes this wonderful gem of a recording called “Pelican Crossing” from a group called Blue Jar, who hail from — of all places, Belfast Ireland. What do these folk from the Emerald Island have to offer hard-bitten Chicago jazz fans? How about a delightful recording of exceptional musicianship that encompasses everything from gypsy jazz and vaudeville to pop to classical. This is one musical stew you can really sink your teeth into.
Opener “I’ve Found a New Baby” sets things off nicely, as violinist Lesley Dennison, accordionist Ivan Black (also on barrelhouse piano and sax) and guitarist Tommy Locke trade off solos on a track that makes you think Django might have been St. Patrick himself reincarnated (or vice versa). Andrew Lavery and Rod Patterson provide solid backing on drums and bass, giving the soloists ample opportunity to shine, and they don’t disappoint. Dennison (who also plays viola) seems well-schooled in the Stephane Grappelli style, but surprises pleasantly with the clear and sure tone and technique that comes no doubt from a rigid classical training, while Locke lives up to his billing as one of Ireland’s most in-demand guitarists with his mastery of the fretboard.
Dennison also shows an engaging pop sensibility on her vocal rendition of the dreamlike original “Hey Mr. Pelican,” while the gypsy flavored “Czardas” calls to mind Brahms’ Hungarian Dances, before “Love Song Without Words” returns to a more romantic time past when dancers moved gracefully on an elegant ballroom dance floor under chandeliers.
The old-time vaudeville classic, made famous by Sophie Tucker (and used to great effect in the movie “All That Jazz”) — “After You’ve Gone” is sheer joy personified into music. But the band then suddenly changes things up again with an utterly glorious take on Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1” that will stay shimmering in your memory long after you hear it.
This intriguing pattern continues throughout the rest of the album (Blue Jar’s 2nd release), as the satisfyingly eclectic song choices careen between traditional (“Dark Eyes”), standards (“Blue Moon,” and “Moonlight in Vermont” both sung with just a touch of an Irish brogue lingering in Dennison’s appealing voice), tangos and interesting takes on classical pieces from Massenet and Saint-Saens, which offer the added bonus of having cellist Scott Heron involved in the presentation. His terrific whistling also highlights the jaunty original “How Can it Be?”
With their wide-ranging and addictive mix of musical styles, not to mention Chicagoland’s large and vibrant Irish population, Blue Jar would be a smash sensation should they ever cross the Atlantic and visit our great city. Here’s a hope that we do see them playing live here someday. In the meantime, pick up a copy of “Pelican Crossing” and enjoy a musical blend that is as tasty as a jigger of smooth Irish whiskey on a hot day.