Although at home in a variety of musical styles, Cork trombonist/composer/arranger Paul Dunlea concentrates primarily on jazz and improvisation and has performed/toured/recorded with the likes of Cassandra Wilson, Frankie Valli, Liam O'Maonlaoi, Mick Flannery, Peter Washington, Billy Drummond, John Clayton, RTE Concert Orchestra, The Crash Ensemble, The Dublin City Jazz Orchestra, The New Irish Jazz Orchestra, The Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Hot House Big Band, Freezeroom & Brian Deady. Ahead of the Paul Dunlea Quintet's performance at Signal Series on 28th May, we chatted to Paul about working as a composer with creative improvising musicians, inspirations from family and kids, and exciting upcoming projects blending different styles of music.

Q. What motivates you, as an artist, to create music?

I wouldn't say I'm motivated by any one thing really. At the beginning I suppose I was just jotting down some ideas to play with some local musicians here in Cork, some of which, I am very lucky to still be playing with today, and after hearing what those guys were able to do with those ideas, I was hooked on writing !. Putting dots or chords on a page is one thing but having outrageous musicians put their own stamp on it is a completely different satisfaction level. I'm very lucky to be working constantly with some of the best musicians around and hearing them bring my original compositions to life.

Q. Who or what inspires you at the moment - be it in music, arts, politics or your personal life?

My kids are a major source of inspiration to me. I find myself humming or whistling a soundtrack to the mischief they create and then try and write down or sing into my phone, some idea I might have add as a result.! I've written alot of music inspired by them including the title track of my last album 'Fraternal'.

Q. Can you tell us about a seminal experience, project, or encounter that had a significant impact on your career?

I've been very lucky to have been involved in projects over the years that have had a profound experience on me as a performer and composer. My great friend David O'Rourke has had a massive influence on my career. I depped on a big band gig of his a few years back when he was doing a tour with the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra and we just hit it off, Dave invited me to play at the Jazz Standard in NY with his Big Band. I couldn't believe the personnel involved, I was literally sitting in a big band that contained a huge chunk of my CD collection. Lewis Nash, Peter Bernstein et al. From there I forged my own friendships with members of the band and have been back on numerous occasions performing with people that Dave initially introduced me to including Sachal Vasandani, who was the singer with Dave's band. Last year I had the honour of being part of Sachal's big band when it performed for a week at Lincoln Centre directed by John Clayton.

Q. Are you working on anything new at the moment? What’s next for you?

At the moment, I've got two big projects in the pipeline. I'm MD of the New Irish Jazz Orchestra and we've a very big concert coming up on June 16th featuring the amazing traditional fiddler - Martin Hayes (The Gloaming) so I'm writing original material to feature Martin and full big band as well as arranging Martin's own music for the ensemble. I've also finished recording a new septet album featuring a stunning band Paul Booth (sax), Ryan Quigley (Trumpet), Steve Hamilton (Piano), Eoin Walsh (Bass), Alyn Cosker (Drums) and myslef. I'm hoping to have the new record out in September.

Q. What direction do you see the music industry headed towards in the next 20 years?

Jeez...I don't know.! I don't see the sales of recordings getting better anytime soon.!! If I was to take a guess I'd say performing to the best of your ability is the way to go. Of course the concert-type setting gigs are few and far between these days, especially here in Ireland, so hats off to the IMC for providing this signal series, but in the long run, more of these types of gigs are needed.

Thanks Paul!

Catch the Paul Dunlea Quintet, in a double-header with the Cormac Kenevey Quartet, at the Signal Series, Tuesday May 28th (doors 8pm, at the Wild Duck.

Paul Dunlea Quintet
Paul Dunlea - trombone
Ben Castle - saxophones
Leopoldo Osio - keys
Barry Donohue - bass
Davie Ryan - drums
Tickets €12 online/€15 at the door, available HERE.

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