Notes from Irish jazz: Kevin Lawlor, Wexford
For our Notes from Irish Jazz series, we're shining a light on some of the people who create the jazz scene around Ireland! Wexford-based musician and educator Kevin Lawlor gave us some insight into the jazz scene in Wexford and the south-east.
Kevin is a jazz drummer from Wexford, performing original contemporary improvised music, described as ‘a highly accomplished musician and composer with a well developed collaborative sensibility’. His original music, including recent albums 'Stramash' and 'Last Days of Summer', is often band-focused and through-composed, giving pieces a more continuous narrative. He is also Director of Jazz at Wexford School of Music.
Q1. How would you describe the jazz scene in Wexford/the south-east at the moment?
I'm reluctant to use the term scene as nothing is regular, but there is a healthy amount of jazz and improvised music being played in Wexford, which is great! There are about 3 or 4 places that jazz gets played in Wexford such as Wexford Arts Centre, the National Opera House from time to time and Greenacres Gallery also. I also put on less formal performances in Sky and the Ground. Each venue is booked by different people so there's a rich and broad range of improvised and jazz music through the town. Also it's not all the work of a single venue or promoter which keeps thing healthy and varied too.
Q2. What is your favourite thing about programming jazz in Wexford?
The people who come and support live music are the life of any performance. I have performed with groups playing my original music, themed music by particular artists and some less conventional music by my group APK. The audiences in Wexford are hugely supportive and appreciative.
Q3. In an ideal world, what do you think would be one thing which would make a big difference to the jazz scene?
It would be nice to see more musicians at gigs and students also. This is always a tricky thing because students at primary and secondary often have busy schedules. I guess musicians have gigs themselves too. Having said that, I was recently struck by how few guitarists there were at a recent performance of a visiting virtuoso jazz guitarist at WAC, and we all know there's no shortage of guitarists in any town! But that's just an observation.
Q4. Could you name some of your favorite artists/tracks with south-east connections?
There is loads of music in Wexford all being performed and recorded by hard-working musicians in many different fields. I'm not going to single any artists or players out! There are less than a handful of jazz musicians around Wexford town and a few more in Waterford too.
One notable artist from Wexford now based in Valencia, Spain is Peter Connolly who is making great music with his band Valmuz.
Listen to Kevin Lawlor's new album 'Stramash' here: