Soul-jazz pioneer Roy Ayers tops bill at Jazz and Big Band festival

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Kanye West and Fela Kuti collaborator and soul-jazz pioneer Roy Ayers will top the bill at this year’s City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival.

Known as the Godfather of Neo-soul, Ayers’ inimitable style spans the genres as well as the generations as an iconic figure in jazz, soul and R&B.

Pharrell Williams cites Roy Ayers as one of his key musical heroes.

He is most well-known for his signature compositions “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” , “Searchin’” and “Running Away.”

And his music has been sampled by some of the biggest contemporary stars including 50 Cent, Tupac, Ice Cube and Mary J Blige.

A Roy Ayers gig is as powerful six decades into his career: a perpetual exchange of energy and elation between artist and audience, with both parties giving as much as they take.

Vibrophonist and vocalist Ayers will be heading up an impressive array of talent, with over 200 performers taking to stages in over 80 venues across Londonderry and Strabane for the biggest event of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Ayers will perform at St Columb’s Hall at 8.30pm on Sunday, May 1.

Over 40,000 people descend on the city annually for the local music event of the year.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion, said she was looking forward to a fantastic weekend.

“There is no doubt that the Jazz Festival weekend is possibly the highlight of the year for us in terms of visitor experiences,” she said.

“The place just comes alive with music and the buzz about the streets is incredible.

“I think that what makes it so appealing is that there are events for all ages, so while we always attract a dedicated Jazz audience, there’s plenty of entertainment on offer for families and music lovers of all kinds.

“The programme this year is as always packed full of talent from home and abroad, and I’m looking forward to what promises to be a busy weekend for visitors and a booming time for local businesses,” the Mayor added.

Among the local legends lending their skills to the line-up will be the Paul McIntyre Trio, Father of Jazz Gay McIntyre, George Hasson, and John and Fiona Trotter to name but a few.

Regular favourites among the top class international musicians who attend each year, including Velocity Brown and the Hot Rods, Les Swingin Lovers and the Jaydee Brass Band, will also be making a welcome return.

And Bennigans Bar once again hosts an impressive assortment of jazz talent hand-picked by top class local pianist John Leighton.

Jazz programmes are available at council facilities and entertainment venues across the district, and online at

For all the latest news and event updates check out DerryJazzFestival on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter@derryjazzfest For details on any remaining accommodation deals over the Jazz Festival contact