Looking back on 2022
Season’s greetings from all of us at Improvised Music Company!
We hope you’ll have a musical Christmas and a very happy new year. We’ve been reflecting on the last year, and we hope you might enjoy looking back at some of this year’s memories below, including some great reading, watching and listening you can enjoy over the holidays.
If you still need to find some gifts, be sure to check out our Gift Ideas - you can find a wonderful gift for a music-lover and support Irish music and musicians at the same time! You can also give someone a gift membership to IMC’s Incubator programme - an inside track to become part of music in its making, supporting and being part of two musicians’ projects over a year.
We loved the Irish Times top 5 jazz albums of 2022, and The Goo’s top album round-up and it’s been great to hear artist’s insights into some of the great albums this year. Why not have a read of Aoife Doyle’s thoughts about her new album ‘Infinitely Clear’, or Kevin Brady’s on ‘Plan B’?
The year kicked off with one of our most memorable gigs - Craig Taborn returning to the National Concert Hall with Shadow Plays, which Hot Press called ‘dazzling melodies of liquid gold’. Craig also shared fascinating thoughts on improvisation with us on IMC’s Creative About Music podcast - one to listen to if you’re looking for some inspiration!
Guitarists had a fantastic year of things to enjoy, with an early one in the Joe O’Callaghan Quartet’s amazing performance in February. Joe also talked with Kenneth and guest host Matthais Winkler about his love for the jazz guitar on a special podcast episode. A Dublin date for the Robson/Levy Quartet tour in September was a very special night of music, and it was great to hear Phil Robson’s thoughts on music-making and his lockdown album ‘Portrait in Extreme’.
We were proud to be a part of the first ever Young Irish Jazz Musician 2022, together with Limerick Jazz. Nils Kavanagh was awarded the first prize after a breathtaking final at the University Concert Hall Limerick, and we look forward to hearing amazing music from all the finalists in the future.
Music has taken some different twists and turns over the last few years, sometimes resulting in things we could never have imagined. Our 2020 inaugural BAN BAM Commission & Development became something entirely new with their transformation into site-specific music-film pieces, created with breathtaking imagination by the composers - C.V. Lunny, Úna Monaghan and Sue Rynhart - with the help of Inside Voice Studios, IMC, and Moving On Music. The pieces received their premiere at the Irish Film Institute this April and we’re looking forward to future screenings.
The new BAN BAM Awardees have also just been announced, and we’re looking forward to hearing fantastic work from Meilana Gillard, Carole Nelson, and Bianca Gannon in 2023. Alexandra Potinga and Andrea Jones were also awarded Honourable Mentions for the quality of their applications.
The artists you may have heard us shouting the most about this year are the wonderful improvisers making up IMC’s 30/30 programme. We’re so lucky to have talent like this on the island, and it’s been fantastic seeing all their work this year. We can definitely recommend checking them out if you’re short of new music to listen to or seeing some good Christmas gifts - someone in your life might enjoy ZASKA’s ‘A Better Way’ for some funk-y eco-minded tunes, Cormac McCarthy’s ‘On the Other Hand’ for rich piano explorations, Jenna Harris’ ‘Shadow Chroí’ for dreamy electronics, Roamer’s ‘Lost Bees’ for pinpoint-precise ensemble improv, Adam Nolan’s ‘God’s Planet’ for mind-bending free jazz, Izumi Kimura & C.V. Lunny’s ‘Invisible Resistances’ for interweaving imaginations, or many more. We’ve been working with these artists on shows, including our Jazz Mondays at The Complex, and the Smithfield Sessions. We’ve been in the studio for recording sessions, out and about for residencies, photo shoots, and more, with lots coming up in 2023 also. Make sure you’re signed up to our Newsletter to get first access to all upcoming events.
The Navigator residency programme continued in 2022, with improvising artists immersing themselves in an area to connect and create. Four diverse artists took part this year. Guitarist Chris Guilfoyle was in residence at Ballina Arts Centre, leading workshops with local schools and musicians and developing his music. Vocalist and composer Olesya Zdorovetska was in residence at An Grianán Theatre, Donegal, constructing work on the theme of ‘home’ through conversation with artists and people who have made Letterkenny their home. Guitarist and electronic musician Aengus Hackett was in residence at Tinahely Courthouse Arts Centre, working with local youth jazz bands and developing work based on sounds and poetry from Tinahely. Singer and activist Emilie Conway was in residence at The Source Arts Centre, Thurles, working with local choirs and artists. It’s amazing to see the work artists can produce when engaged with areas and communities, and we’ve enjoyed working with video editor Matthias Winkler on short documentaries exploring this concept from the perspective of our inaugural Navigator artists. Check out this one with guitarist Hugh Buckley who was the inaugural Navigator artist-in-residence at The Source, Thurles.
It’s been a year of tremendous creativity for Ireland’s musicians, and we’ve been proud to support that work with IMC’s Space Programme - offering jazz and improvising musicians a dedicated space to rehearse and develop their work, in collaboration with The Bunker Studios this year. We’ve seen so much great music coming out of there, and hearing people say things like ‘it’s helped our developing band move up to a new level, and fulfilled a new part of our dreams,” just warms the heart! With our upcoming WRITE RECORD PERFORM project with Triskel Arts Centre in Cork, we have plenty to look forward to next year in seeing what wonderful music artists develop.
One of our more behind the scenes projects this year is building on this concern for space - creating a new home and space for jazz and improvised music in Dublin. Audiences could enjoy a sneak peek of our new space at The Complex at a beautifully intimate concert from Neil Ó Loclainn’s Cuar. Neil’s cinematic, teasing-at-the-edges-of-thought, trad-influenced music was a beautiful start for a space we’re excited about. We’re welcoming musicians to begin developing work from January and watch this space for upcoming events!
We’re very grateful this year to have so many great colleagues and collaborators in Ireland and abroad. We came together with Moving On Music and the Jazz Promotion Network for the first JPN conference on the island, with fantastic showcases from 30/30 artists in the RBG Trio, Lina Andonovska & Izumi Kimura, and the Scott Flanigan Trio. We’ve been working with the Irish Jazz Forum and Music Alliance Ireland to inform upcoming policy decisions and discuss issues facing all of us around the country.
Lastly of course, we’re so grateful to you for being part of the music this year, coming out to concerts, engaging with artists, listening to what music can say, and being open to the richness that improvisation can bring to our lives. If you’d like to be more directly involved in the work IMC does, check out our Friends programme.