The Cork Jazz Festival is underway with over 1,000 musicians and creative artists from 20 countries in 70 venues.
The festival is estimated at around 20 million euros for the local economy.
Zaska are a feel-good funk band from Dublin. The band headlined Live at St Luke’s at the Jazz Festival last night.
The band have been together for 10 years and the Cork Jazz Festival is one of the first dates on their agenda for the October bank holiday weekend.
Last year’s jazz festival has particularly special memories for guitarist, songwriter and musical director, Max Zaska, as it arrived on the heels of the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
“When the restrictions were lifted last year, it was one of the first gigs we played, so it’s amazing,” Mr Zaska said.
“It’s been a year, but the concerts are getting better and better. It’s amazing to be back.”
Zaska singer Jess Kav appreciates the support the Cork Jazz Festival gives artists like her.
“For me, it’s always been a place where they’ve supported musicians and supported artists and that’s so important right now,” Ms. Kav said.
“They’ve been around for 44 years and not only have they been fantastic with backing musicians for many, many decades, they’ve been fantastic for jazz fans as well.”
Festival president Fiona Collins appreciates the mix of people the festival attracts.
“I love everyone coming to town, discovering Cork, discovering the music that is part of the jazz weekend,” she said.
“The vibe in Cork on jazz weekends – there’s actually nothing like it, I think, at any other time of the year.”
This atmosphere draws around 40,000 people to Cork over the weekend, many of them international visitors traveling through Cork Airport.
The jazz group Lamarotte from Tilburg in the Netherlands has been coming to the Cork Jazz Festival for almost 20 years.
“I think the people are very special: the environment, the festival, the way things are combined with the pubs and the hotels. It’s great to see,” said band leader Toine Bastings.
Over the five days of the festival, more than a thousand musicians from 20 countries will play in 70 venues across the city, in the suburb of Douglas and at a fringe festival in Kinsale.
A founding member of the festival said the size of Cork City was key to its long-running success.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor show, Harry Connolly said that while the music comes first, the fact that people can walk to each venue has improved the visitor experience.
“The town is small enough that people can park their cars and walk to all the sites,” he said.
“There are 72 venues this year, including the town hall, the opera, restaurants and pubs.”
Another key aspect to the success of the festival is the October bank holiday, he said.
Mr Connolly said it allows people from other parts of the country to come to Cork and enjoy all the festival has to offer.
“The Bank Holiday Monday is key because it allows people in Dublin and other parts of the country to say, ‘Of course it’s grand, we’ll be back on Monday’. So that extra day is very important,” said Ms. Connolly. said.
The Cork Jazz Festival started in October 1978, but Mr Connolly said the county was a hotbed for talented jazz musicians long before the festival took place.
“I value the influence of [cruise] the ocean liners arriving in Cobh were influential,” he said.
“Also, we had a sort of jazz society at the Long Valley Bar and I remember playing with a lot of musicians who are now long gone into the world of cloud jazz.
“It was a small circle, but we played a lot of jazz in the 60s.”
The festival runs until October 31.