Home-grown jazz man, John Leighton, talks about the ‘real jazz element’ ahead of the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival.
The owner of jazz hub Bennigans, he says Londonderry should get ready for the biggest weekend of the year.
“Without a doubt, the City of Derry Jazz and Big Band festival is the biggest weekend that Derry has to offer this year,” he said.
“We’re lucky that we have a strong jazz audience all year round, but next weekend the city will come alive and be absolutely buzzing. We have the perfect backdrop for this kind of festival, with our small city centre making all the gigs accessible and within easy walking distance.”
An accomplished jazz musician, Leighton has played an influential role in placing Derry well and truly on the jazz map. Starting in Bennigans about two-and-a-half years ago as a musician, John kicked off the Sunday Jazz Club. Supported by the Derry Jazz Society, the Sunday Jazz Club profiles some of the biggest jazz names in the country. The bar is unique in that it now boasts a dedicated weekly jazz programme, attracting great musicians from all over the UK and Ireland. The 2016 festival offers music lovers over 200 gigs across 5 days and John says this year’s performers are “the real deal.”
“The Derry festival has really come on over the past few years, with a real jazz element. This year we have a host of artists who regularly play at the big jazz festivals all over the world. The quality of the acts are second to none, with big hitters like Charlie Wood, Liane Carol and Nigel Price, who has a resident slot at the infamous Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London.”
John will take to the stage with Nigel at Bennigans on Saturday, April 30 and will also join Suzanne Savage the night before.
“Roy Ayers headlining on Sunday night is not to be missed, but for me it will be the famously respected Jean Toussaint who plays The Playhouse Theatre on Saturday at 8pm with his Roots and Herbs gig. A Grammy-winning US jazz saxophone giant, Jean played with Art Blakey’s Messengers which was a world class line up. For anyone who wants to get a feel for the Art Blakely experience, then this is it.”
If you miss Jean at The Playhouse, he will perform with John and his trio in Bennigans on Sunday 1st May at 8pm.
Further full information on the City of Derry Jazz & Big Band Festival 2016 visit www.cityofderryjazzfestival.com or Twitter @derryjazzfest