Since the demise of RTE Lyric’s Jazz Alley, which broadcast every week from the first weekend of the station’s existence until it was axed at the end of 2015, there has been no regular national programme devoted to jazz. The Hot Box aims to fill that gap with former Jazz Alley presenter Donald Helme.
The Hot Box sets the best of Irish recorded jazz in the wider context of the universal language that is jazz worldwide. It tries to emphasise accessability and sheer enjoyment, and is building an audience well beyond the shores of its home country.
“Festivalisation” of jazz was a gradual process but one that seemed, a few years ago, to be terminal. Luckily, good sense has prevailed and jazz festivals have taken their rightful place in the overall scheme of things. Now Ireland boasts at least 7 such events, most of which are autumnal, including the great-grandmother of them all, Guinness Cork Jazz Festival. Started in 1978 and still prospering. In the Hot Box we check out some of the artists and bands appearing in Cork 2019, including headliners Kurt Elling, Linley Hamilton and Fred Hersch. And some less well-known - Airelle Besson, Sue Rynhart and Les Fans Flures.
We have a really fantastic line-up in The Hot Box #050 for Pianists under the letter S. Sampling multiple styles you will hear tracks from artists such as Ralph Sutton, Horace Silver, Helen Sung, Matthew Ship, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Martial Solal, Esbjorn Svensson, Bobo Stenson and more.
We also feature a track from Gwilym Simcock who is performing the New Ross Piano Festival Jazz Day on September 26th. You can view the event listing here. Then a wonderful track to close the lid on the 50th Episode of The Hot Box Podcast from Christian Sands entitled Reaching for the Sun.
The Hot Box 49 is an advanced peak behind the curtain of an upcoming concert from the RTE Concert Orchestra featuring a feast of George Gershwin music cantering on the first ever live performance of the Concert Version of the Armstrong / Ella orchestration “Porgy & Bess”.
The recreation of Russel Garcia’s entire score has been achieved by Derry born, award-winning jazz trumpeter and arranger Ryan Quigley. The world premiere of this concert will be performed by RTÉ Concert Orchestra on the 11th of September in The National Concert Hall in Dublin. The Ella & Louis parts will be delivered by Nicola Emmanuelle (‘the real deal’ – Time Out) and five-time British Jazz Awards winner Enrico Tomasso – who as a child actually knew Louis Armstrong.
A Special Edition celebrating the centennial of pianist George Shearing 1919 - 2011
The Pianist George Shearing was born in Battersea, London in August 1919, blind from birth. He emigrated to the USA in 1947, soon establishing the so-called “Shearing Sound” with his quintet. The band scored popular hits in the late 40’s and early 50’s, unwittingly inventing a sound formula that would endear itself to commercial arrangers across the world. Of particular interest for Irish listeners is the fact that Shearing’s preferred guitarist for much of the late 20th century was Louis Stewart. Shearing was knighted for his services to music. “Not bad for a blind boy from Battersea”.
The Hot Box number 47 in which we have wall-to-wall female vocalists………………….
This is the first time Hot Box has gone all-female-vocal, but a really exciting programme results, with several current singers featured both from Ireland and beyond. It seems that there is an explosion of female vocalising today, and it recalls the days when all the big bands had to front with at least one female vocalist - a “canary” as they were pejoratively nicknamed. Most of them fell into obscurity. Nowadays the singer is more likely to have to make a solo career from scratch.Its still a struggle but a different kind of struggle.
There are few sounds in jazz more appealing than that of a big fat unit comprising around 17 musicians, well drilled, swinging, and with star solo improvisations on top. The 46th Hot Box celebrates some of those sounds with a mix of familiar and unfamiliar, including The New Irish Jazz Orchestra, whose formerly unpublished pieces from live concert performance are featured here. Also sit back and enjoy two wonderful tracks from Fred Hersch’s brand new album - a significant departure for him - with the WDR Big Band under the direction of the multi-award winning arranger Vince Mendoza.
Another hour of superb jazz piano from Donald Helme in The Hot Box #045 A to Z of Jazz Piano Part 17 – The Letter R. In this episode you can hear from artists such as Ted Rosenthal, Gene Rodgers, Eric Reed, Renee Rosnes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Michele Rosewoman and many more. There is some really amazing music in this one.