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Blind Date Jazz: Meilana Gillard + Chris Guilfoyle

IMC’s Blind Date Jazz - A New Limited Series

Episode 6, Sunday 25th April, 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 the 6th episode of Blind Date Jazz we paired up saxophonist Meilana Gillard with guitarist Chris Guilfoyle.

Meilana is a saxophonist and composer based in Northern Ireland. She has two albums under her name (Day One ’09, Dream Within A Dream ’17), both of which received critical acclaim. Currently, she is one third of Ireland’s own RBG Trio featuring Dave Redmond and Kevin Brady. They released their first single ‘Black Hole Sun’ in October 2020 and have plans to record a full-length album in the Summer (2021). Born in London, Meilana grew up in Ohio and studied music in NYC where she had the chance to perform with several of her heroes. Since moving to Northern Ireland, she has become one to watch. Often praised for her big sound and story-telling improvisations, memorable melodic compositions and lyricism, she remains a perpetual student. You can find more of her work at her website, or at her bandcamp.

Chris is an Irish guitarist, composer, bandleader, and educator who tours regularly around Ireland and abroad including the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and France. Since 2011, Chris has been a member of faculty on Newpark Music Centre’s BA in Jazz Performance program, and has since become a Jazz Lecturer at Dublin City University where he teaches guitar and ensemble studies. Chris leads his own group Umbra, a critically acclaimed quintet featuring some of the most promising musicians in Ireland. Umbra have released two records in the last two years and have toured extensively in Ireland and Europe. In his relatively short career, Chris has played with some of the biggest names in jazz including Dave Liebman, Jim Black, Tom Rainey, Theo Bleckmann, Nils Wogram, Ralph Peterson, John O’Gallagher, and David Binney. He also performs with Ronan Guilfoyle, Conor Guilfoyle, Sean Carpio and Michael Buckley, some of the most highly regarded musicians on the Irish jazz scene. You can find more of Chris' work at his website, find him on Instagram or follow Umbra on Twitter or Facebook.

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

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