Bray Jazz Festival

Bray Jazz Festival
The Bray Jazz Festival, also known as simply Bray Jazz, is an international jazz festival held in the Irish coastal town of Bray on the May bank holiday weekend. Although it’s not a particularly big festival, it has established a reputation as the leading contemporary jazz music event in Ireland.

The Bray Jazz Festival was founded in 2000 with the partial financial assistance of Ireland’s National Millennium Fund. The organizers never intended for it to be a large-scale event; they describe it as a boutique festival where the leading jazz and world music artists from across the world perform in front of a relatively small audience. According to the festival’s artistic director, it is the somewhat intimate atmosphere of the event that allows to fully appreciate the beauty of jazz and the musicians’ talent and skills.

The Irish Times has described Bray Jazz as “the connoisseurs jazz festival”, and the website All About Jazz has listed it among the very best small jazz festivals in Europe. Since its inception, the Bray Jazz Festival has become one of the main highlights on the country’s cultural calendar.

Notable musicians and bands that have performed at Bray Jazz include Louis Sclavis, Henri Texier, Tomasz Stańko, Orchestre National de Jazz, Dafnis Prieto, Maceo Parker, Andrew Hill, Dave Douglas, Eliane Elias, Tord Gustavsen, Stefon Harris, Steve Coleman, Richard Galliano, Andreas Varady, Susana Baca, Mats Eilertsens, Uri Caine, Vinicius Cantuaria, and many others.

The Bray Jazz Festival doesn’t focus solely on European jazz. It embraces contemporary jazz and world music performed by musicians from around the world. Over the years, the festival has welcomed performers from Ireland, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Senegal, Germany, Iceland, France, Peru, and many other countries.

During the festival, concerts take place at several venues across the town, including the Bray Town Hall, the city harbor, the Mermaid Arts Centre, local pubs, bars and clubs, community halls, and more. The festival program is divided into two parts: the main program and the Festival Trail. The latter is a series of about two dozen shows held at various venues, primarily the town’s bars and pubs.

Bray Jazz Festival

Photo: Ian Patterson




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