” Guitarist/composer/teacher Aengus Hackett is fast becoming a pivotal figure of the Irish jazz scene. “– Jazziz
Aengus Hackett has been surrounded by music from an early age, he grew up on an eclectic diet of folk, rock, punk and metal. Upon discovering jazz, Aengus was instantly hooked.
In 2009, Aengus won a grant from the Arts Councils of Ireland and N. Ireland to attend the renowned Skidmore Jazz Institute in New York. During his time in the US, he studied with the likes of guitarist Wayne Krantz, Curtis Fuller, Pat LaBarbera and Grammy-winner Bobby Shew.
Taking his passion to the next level, Aengus spent five years in the Netherlands studying jazz.
After studying with world-class jazz performers such as Jesse van Ruller, Martijn van Iterson, Freddie Bryant and Alex Sipiagin, in 2013 Aengus became a graduate of the prestigious Conservatory of Amsterdam. During his time in the Netherlands, he crossed paths with many wonderful musicians, and the path was paved for two international projects:
The experimental jazz / folk / rock trio DINOSAUR completed their first tour of Ireland in 2014, culminating in a performance at the National Concert Hall of Ireland. Their debut album was released in 2017.
Aengus embarked on a successful tour of Ireland in 2015 with his exciting ‘Irish-Turkish Project‘, featuring world-class vocalist Sanem Kalfa. For this project, The Arts Council of Ireland awarded Aengus with a Touring Award. The tour received national press coverage, appearing in publications such as Hot Press Magazine, the Irish Independent and the Irish Times, and on radio stations such as RTE Radio 1 and Lyric FM.
As a member of the Galway Jazz Festival team, Aengus was heavily involved in the planning and coordination of each festival programme since 2010. This included curating and performing on the ‘Salthouse Sessions’, which has featured the cream of Ireland’s jazz musicians such as Mike Nielsen, Tommy Halferty, Conor Guilfoyle, Bill Blackmore and Damian Evans.
A passionate educator, Aengus has over fifteen years experience as a guitar teacher.
Since returning to live in Ireland in 2013, Aengus has kept busy with creative projects, such releasing an album with experimental post-rock group Zinc.
Aengus has collaborated with fellow Zinc bandmate Andrew Madec on two projects supported by That’s Life, the award-winning arts programme of the Brothers of Charity Services Galway.
In Flow is an exciting project combining Indonesian Gamelan, improvisation, electronics and visuals. For this, Aengus was awarded the Arts Participation Bursary Award 2017 by Arts Council Ireland. This enabled him to explore and develop improvisation as a tool to make music on the gamelan with a group of adults with ID. This was subsequently developed into a show called ‘In Flow‘, which premiered at the Galway Jazz Festival 2019. Aengus also heavily contributed to a documentary about the project, which is slated for release in 2020.
Electric Dreams is a diverse band which walks the line between synth pop and indie in their sound, and come with a message of inclusion and community.
Most recently Aengus has curated and performed on JAZZGate, a weekly residency at the Black Gate Cultural Centre Galway. The series pays tribute to the music of the greatest jazz legends. A different artist is featured each week, and the lineups include some of Ireland’s top jazz musicians.
Another side of Aengus’ musical persona is that of Penji, his alias as an electronic music producer. Penji’s debut EP was released to much acclaim in May 2020.
In November 2020, Aengus released a series of compositions for guitar & electronics, entitled ‘Shimmer’. Supported by the Arts Council, for these works Aengus used improvisation as a compositional process.
“ The Salthouse gigs on the Saturday and Sunday of (Galway Jazz Festival) GJF ’16 were curated by guitarist Aengus Hackett, whose beautifully articulated solo on Miles Davis’ “All Blues” set the tone for the session. Ballads, blues, swing and Broadway hits from yesteryear—Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” being a highlight—were played with an emotional nuance…“– All About Jazz
“Adopting the name of Penji for his solo project, Hackett appears to have taken his most interesting musical digression…in the process (Penji) has created a groove-laden sound that is augmented by weighty beats, shimmering processed guitar and warm synths. These are songs to reward repeated listens as various elements seep up to the surface and reveal themselves.. With this EP, Penji has revealed a knack of merging the ecstatic with the downbeat.”– Journal of Music on Penji
” With Penji, you will experience feelings of calm, isolation, and hope all in a single song, but it never feels disjointed. All the instrumentation is a joy but the guitar is a particular highlight. Penji is a one-man band, and an exceptionally talented one at that. This release transcends hip hop, jazz, and more—it’s a perfect blending of all styles."– Headstuff on Penji