Improvised Music Company

Flyin’ Hi - Tommy Halferty at 70

Featuring; Tommy Halferty, Norma Winstone, Ronan Guilfoyle, Kevin Brady, Dave Redmond, Christopher Lavergne and other guests.


“Harmonically and melodically, Halferty is a distinctive guitarist”

The Irish Times (1993)


Its not just IMC who are celebrating a significant birthday this year.

The career of one of the great elder statesmen of the Irish Jazz scene, guitarist Tommy Halferty, will be honoured at a special event Tommy Halferty: ‘Flyin' Hi’ at 70 in The Opium Rooms on Thursday 24th November.


This concert will feature two different sets. Firstly, Tommy will perform with distinguished guest, UK jazz vocalist Norma Winstone, whose rapport has been described as “nothing short of phenomenal” by Sunday Independent journalist Grainne Farren. Halferty will then be joined by his well-known trio who will compete the first set. The second set of the night will include a suite of Halferty originals, arranged for 7-piece band by bassist, composer and long time friend and colleague Ronan Guilfoyle.



Throughout his rich and varied career Tommy Halferty’s signature guitar sound, tonally heavy, brimming with juicy bebop lines and fat chordal arrangements has been instrumental in shaping the sound of the Irish jazz.


Dublin has always been a ‘guitar town’ with influences from the late great Louis Stewart defining generations of guitar players. The same can be said for Halferty who has been equally influential as a guitarist but also as a composer, educator and mentor to many Irish musicians over the years.


Halferty’s professional career began in the late 70’s, when he featured in jazz fusion bands like ‘Jump’ & ‘Nunn’. From the off, Halferty wove in classical, folk, Irish traditional and rock influences, distilling it into his own unique jazz signature, something that remains a hallmark of his playing to this day.


A longer trio stint in the mid ‘80’s with drummer John Wadham and bassist Ronan Guilfoyle cemented his reputation as a world class guitarist. 

He has shared stages with international jazz luminaries such as Lee Konitz, Benny Golson, Ronnie Cuber, George Mraz, Dave Liebman and vocalist Norma Winstone, who will join him for this special night on 24th November


Halferty excelled in intimate duo settings, evidenced by his long time collaboration with fellow Irish guitarist Mike Nielsen as well other as duos with international heavyweights like John Abercrombie and John Ethridge.


“Tommy Halferty's superb duo album with Mike Nielsen is perhaps the finest Irish jazz recording ever made” - The Sunday Tribune


But it was his musical pairing back in 1991 with English vocalist, lyricist and bona fida jazz legend Norma Winstone (MBE) that proved a catalyst for something very special, with their musical rapport described as “nothing short of phenomenal” by the Sunday Tribune.


ECM recording artist, Winstone, “One of the Glories of contemporary Jazz” according to the Jazz Journal has herself had a significant influence on the jazz world in an illustrious career that has spanned over 40 years. And she is also flyin’ hi as evidenced by her 2015 Parliamentary Jazz Award.


Tommy Halferty has been one of the key architects and foundation stone for todays vibrant Irish jazz scene, as well as adding to the reputation of Irish jazz internationally. Celebrate his life and music with IMC this 24th Novemeber.

Tommy Halferty

Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, he began his musical career in the late 70s taking Jazz Guitar lessons with Louis Stewart, a world class jazz musician. Some of his earliest appearances playing public were with bands such as `Jump' - a jazz fusion group and later on `Nunn' - a trio of flute, double bass and guitar. Most of the material here was drawn from classical, folk and jazz music.

In '93 Tommy toured Ireland with the jazz singer Norma Winstone culminating in the Cork Jazz Festival. About this time, Tommy began to form a group combining traditional music and jazz using Tommy Hayes (Bodhrán) and Ronan Brown (Uilleann pipes), appearing on T.V. in Germany and Ireland. However, a distillation of many styles of music - Indian, Flamenco, Arabic and Irish took shape in `Khanda' - a new group with Ramesh Shotham from India, Conor and Ronan Guilfoyle, Martin Nolan (Pipes) and Ellen Cranitch (Flute) from Ireland.

Tommy has played as part of a guitar duo (with Mike Nielsen) in the Tel-Aviv International Guitar Festival '94. They were voted Critic's Choice in `The Jerusalem Post' of that year. A special honour was given to Tommy when he was asked to play for President Clinton when he visited Ireland in November '96.

Tommy is a faculty member of the International Jazz Summer School at the University of Ulster, since its inception in 1992. Tommy teaches Jazz improvisation in New Park Music Centre, and has been instrumental in getting Jazz music in the current Leaving Certificate Music course.

Tommy is currently teaching English Literature and Music in Coolmine Community School. He is considered one of the first Irish jazz musician to export a distinctly indigenous style to a more worldwide setting

"Harmonically and melodically, Halferty is a distinctive guitarist"

– The Irish Times

"There are few Irish Jazz Guitarists that can deliver with gusto and taste at this level, Tommy Halferty is one of them"

– Newsletter Belfast
  • Icons of Jazz: Tommy Halferty
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  • Tommy Halferty, Seven Musical Steps to Camus
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  • Flyin’ Hi - Tommy Halferty at 70
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  • Tommy Halferty Trio featuring Seamus Blake
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  • Tommy Halferty Organ Trio
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  • Pendulum- Tommy Halferty Organ Trio
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  • Tommy Halferty Trio
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  • Tommy Halferty Trio Pendulum Dublin
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  • Pendulum - Tommy Halferty Trio
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  • Tommy Halferty Quartet
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  • Tommy Halferty Trio feat: Keith Copeland
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  • Tommy Halferty & Mike Nielsen
    14th November 2004, Pendulum Club at JJ’s
  • Tommy Halferty Trio featuring Michel Zenino
    20th June 2004, Pendulum Club at JJ’s