It was a filthy night. The rain beat against our backs and bounced up onto our bodies, as we weaved our way heads-down, hoods up, through the torrent of water, towards the Everyman Theatre on MacCurtain Street.
We passed a lone saxophonist propped against a lamp-post, seemingly unaware of the deluge, immersed in his own melody.
It was the first night of the biggest, most exciting Jazz Festival yet to be seen in Cork, with 800 performers in 45 venues and 40,000 jazz fans.
Efterklang, Chic & Nile Rodgers and Primal Scream were playing at the Opera House, but we came to see Rene Marie, the award-winning American singer, who gave a sensual rendering of Eartha Kitt’s “C’est Si Bon” and “I Want to Be Evil” in the Everyman Theatre.
The real jazz, according to the organisers, was at the Triskel Christchurch, across the river on Tobin Street, where 16 concerts were staged in the three days of the festival.
We took our pews in this reverent setting and listened to the Perico Sambeat Quartet, enthralled. Perico, born in 1962 in Valencia, Spain, played the alto saxophone with Albert Sanz on piano, Alex Davis played the double bass and the Irishman, Stephen Keogh was on drums.
Dino Saluzzi, from Argentina, followed on from Perico Sambeat. He took to the altar, crossing his hands and holding them to his chest, as he spoke in a low, sermonic voice, “all we need is “lealtad, humilidad y amor” (loyalty, humility and love), he preached.
Dino played the bandoneon, which is designed to play religious music, with his brother, Felix, on the tenor saxophone and clarinet and Anja Lechner on cello , forming the Saluzzi Lechner Saluzzi Trio. As we watched and listened, a couple above us danced a gentle tango.
Our appetite for jazz was insatiable, as we once again crossed the river to the Metropole Hotel, or the Met, as it is known in Cork, where 4 rooms were dedicated to jazz, funk, soul and blues with artists from Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, UK and Denmark.