The Irish Arts Center
This City is filled with talent. There are venues where you least expect them, many specialized and in buildings inconspicuous from the curb. One snowy day last week we walked past a painted wall with a small sign, “Irish Art Center”.
A quick google led me to a site that celebrates Irish talent. When I began scrolling through their upcoming events, I anticipated Irish song and dance. Wrong. Have you ever heard of Irish Jazz? I had not. Thought it might be worth the reasonably priced tickets so I purchased two.
Last night Tip and I attended a pleasant but unusual performance featuring jazz by three Irish women. Each performed separately with their own accompaniment.
Opening the evening was Christine Tobin, who was also the curator of the event. She performed from a collection of music created by Joni Mitchell and Charles Mingus, an old-time Jazz singer.
As Christine told us during her monologue, Mingus contacted Mitchell about writing lyrics for music that had been running through his head. The two collaborated and came up with an album of fine, smooth Jazz. Mingus didn’t get to see the release of the album as he died just before the album was released.
Ms. Tobin performed several of the Mitchell/Mingus tunes with her accompanying guitarist. The music was moving, well performed and was dotted with video excerpts from Joni Mitchell and Mingus performances.
The second act was our favorite. Kate McGarry, with her husband on guitar and a very evocative keyboard player played several jazz songs and arrangements of classic soft rock songs with a jazz interpretation (59th Street Bridge Song by Paul Simon). Her style reminded me of scat singing. The talents, with those of her sidekicks was truly impressive. Her signature number was a song she wrote referencing her conversations with past ancestors who migrated to America. It was a beautiful song, titled “Climb Down”. It may be worth a google.
The final act was a 4 piece jazz combo. Ingrid Jensen, a jazz trumpeter, backed with a drummer, Tobin’s guitarist, and a stand-up bass player. You could tell that each of the musicians were incredibly skilled, but several of their tunes sounded like they were each tuning up in different keys. It’s the style of jazz I don’t understand.
In addition to the performers, the venue itself was somewhat remarkable. From the curb, looking like nothing more than a graffiti wall, it transforms into a venue that is small, friendly, intimate, and respectable in presentation and sound quality.
Oh, one more thing. Did I mention that we walked from our residence to the performance? It was a full ½ block. This City is filled with music.
Kate McGarry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUrGW9om6NU
More about the Irish Arts Center http://www.irishartscenter.org/music/tobins_run_on_51_3_23.html