Blind Date Jazz: Episode 3 - Mike Nielsen + Cathal Roche

IMC’s Blind Date Jazz - A New Limited Series

Episode 3: Mike Nielsen + Cathal Roche 
Sunday 28th February, 8pm 
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Musicians often describe improvising with each other as having a conversation - listening, throwing out ideas, responding and developing on each other’s musical thoughts, all in real time.

Since the start of the pandemic we’ve all had less opportunity to listen and hear - feeling either isolated from other people, or besieged by a tsunami of digital content, impossible to focus and listen.

IMC’s new limited series Blind Date Jazz brings listening and creative improvisation into focus, with some of Ireland’s leading improvisers coming into the studio to create an exciting, new, musical conversation.

The twist?

Neither musician has any idea who they are playing with. Unknown, unrehearsed, unplanned and unseen. Not even aware what the other instrument is. In other words, completely blind.

For episode 3 of Blind Date Jazz, we paired up guitarist Mike Nielsen with saxophonist Cathal Roche.

Director of Jazz Performance at the TU Dublin Conservatoire, and a leading exponent of microtonal music in Ireland, Mike Nielsen is considered “one of Europe’s most distinctive and iconoclastic guitar voices, equally innovative on electric and acoustic guitars.” [Sunday Tribune]. He holds a PhD in microtonal performance, MPhil in physics and microtonal music, LTCL in classical guitar performance and received a Jim Hall Incentive Award to attend Berklee College of Music, Boston. Among many other highlights, his work features in The Contemporary Guitar by Grammy Award winning guitarist, John Schneider, has published a book on rhythm for Schott, Germany, and has taken the stages of jazz festivals including the Wangaratta Jazz Festival Australia, with Dave Liebman. Mike features on 23 CDs.

Cathal Roche is composer-performer based in the North-West of Ireland specialising in solo saxophone performance-installation. Working 20 years as an improviser, Cathal has developed his practice through countless innovative projects and recordings exploring extended saxophone techniques, improvisational forms, speech transcription and immersive installation. Long-term musical collaborators include The Dirty Jazz Club, Izumi Kimura, Rafael Kolachi (DAO), Ian Wilson (crOw), Vanbrugh and ConTempo string quartets, the Sligo Jazz Project and many others. Through support from the Arts Council of Ireland Cathal is developing The Whispering Gallery, a series of immersive music works for solo saxophones, anonymous voices and 32-speakerdome. To submit an anonymous lockdown voice recording to this work in progress please visit his website

So, join us on this journey, as we introduce the two performers, shepherding them into the studio while completely hiding from each other’s sight. A curtain bisects the studio, obscuring the artists from one another.

They begin to play, exchanging musical thoughts, sentences, developing a theme and interacting only through the music, an open mind and completely blind. Our studio curtain drops at a certain point and they come face to face with their new improvising partner. Does the musical conversation change?

Blind Date Jazz is an exploration in listening, intuition, skill and spontaneity, all unique hallmarks of the improvising artist.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to find out each Wednesday what musicians we've paired up for this week's blind date, and tune in each Sunday evening on Facebook, Youtube or IGTV to listen in to their musical conversation.

“Jazz music is the power of now. There is no script. It’s conversation.”

- Wynton Marsalis