OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Q&A with Darragh Hennessy
Pianist and organist Darragh Hennessy has been active over the last few years as a sideman on the Dublin jazz scene, but takes on the role of leader/composer in the Darragh Hennessy Organ Trio. Their debut album Duchenne Smile was released in 2019, consisting of mostly original material written by Darragh with the organ trio in mind. Their groovy tunes are reminiscent of Blue Note era organ players such as Jimmy Smith and more contemporary players like Larry Goldings.
We chatted to Darragh about the inspirations of being a musician in the present day, making music that speaks to people, and the joys of playing original music. The Darragh Hennessy Organ Trio performs at the final Signal Series of 2019, Thursday 7th November at Arthur's Blues & Jazz Club.
Q. What is the most important thing to you when making music?
I think it’s very important that the music feels genuine. Sometimes jazz musicians have a tendency to write music that is quite intellectually satisfying but can lack heart or personality. I like to write and play songs that hopefully people can enjoy even if they’re not jazz musicians.
Q. Who or what inspires you at the moment - be it in music, arts, politics or your personal life?
I think this is a great time to be a musician. There’s so much great music on Youtube that it’s so easy to discover amazing music from around the world. I’m constantly being inspired by videos of young players I hadn’t heard of before.
Q. How did you decide to come together with the other musicians in this Organ trio?
Julien and I have been playing music together for a long time now. He used to live just around the corner from me in Deansgrange so we used to get together weekly to run through new tunes. We had already been playing together in organ trios since I just got my organ, so when I decided to do this album it was a very easy decision to ask Julien to play on it. Julien always brings a great energy to the group and is a focused listener when he plays, which makes me listen more when I play with him.
Although Gonzalo del Val plays on the album the great drummer Dominic Mullan will on the Signal Series gig. Dominic is another musician that I’m very used to playing together with in an organ trio. We have similar tastes and ways of thinking about how to play music, so I always find it very easy to play together.
Q. How would you describe the type of music that you create?
These days I try to play mostly original music if possible. I like to play standards too but there’s something special about taking a tune that you came up with at home by yourself, onto a stage and seeing what an audience thinks of it. Stylistically this group would be quite rooted in the organ trio tradition, coming from people like Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson, Jimmy McGriff, Joey DeFrancesco and Larry Goldings.
Q. In your ideal gig, what experience/response would the audience have?
Hopefully they enjoy it!