Exit - Irish and Jazz meet
Liner notes by Ronan Guilfoyle
In 2001 I undertook a new project which involved the composition of new pieces based on the canon of Irish traditional music. This music was performed at the Dublin Jazz Festival by an extended version of my group Lingua Franca, and was recorded immediately afterwards in Dublin. The result of this is the recording you now hold in your hand.
Lingua Franca has been exploring classic jazz repertoire for the past three years, particularly through an examination of the repertoire of Charlie Parker. While being aware of the fact of playing classic music from the jazz canon, I’ve also been very conscious of the need to filter the music through my own experience as a composer and improviser. In recent years I’ve developed a deep interest in Irish traditional music, and through the group Khanda, I’ve explored the possible connections between Irish traditional music and jazz practices. So, artistically I felt that my next logical step was to explore the interstices between jazz, contemporary composition, and Irish traditional music.To this end I utilised Lingua Franca again and added three musicians to it - all of whom play instruments that are used in Irish traditional music
The music written for the group is based on classic tunes from the Irish traditional music canon - but these pieces now form the nucleus for new compositions that examine many different possibilities presented by the traditional music, while at the same time allowing the improvising skills of the musicians to be brought to bear on the material in a creative and regenerative way.
These pieces are NOT arrangements of Irish traditional music per se - this is new music composed around and inspired by the music of the Irish tradition. Rather than the usual procedure of this being a new look at Irish traditional music, it is a new look at contemporary jazz and composition practices as influenced by the song forms and practices of Irish traditional music.
On different pieces I’ve used the traditional music in different ways. In some the original melodies are obvious (Sligo Maid), in others the melody is obscured (Foundation Garment). In some pieces I’ve taken the original melodies apart and used the constituent sections to form the basis of the new composition (Reckless), and in others I’ve separated whole sections of the traditional melody and composed original music to connect up these sections (Kid on the Mountain).
I found the whole experience to be very musically stimulating, and was at times amazed at the sheer variety of material and approaches the traditional music offered to me as a composer. Also it was a great experience for me to have a chance to engage with the musical tradition of my own country, and to bring to that my experience of the musical tradition that I know so well - contemporary jazz.
In putting together this ambitious project it was very important for me to have musicians - from both traditions - who were highly skilled, open, flexible, creative and inventive. The musicians on this recording have all of those qualities, and more, and this project would have been inconceivable without them. I would like to thank Julian, Rick, Tom, Tanya, Martin, and Peter for the work they put into this music and for the skill, creativity, and honesty they bring to the music every time they play.
- Ronan Guilfoyle, Dublin, 2003