Irish flavour in the Jazz Lounge

Caitriona Fallon and Leon Gray will be performing in the Blink Jazz Lounge with the rest of their band this Thursday. Photo: Nikki South.

Jazz fans will have the chance to enjoy some jazz-influenced tunes sung with a lovely Irish brogue in this year’s National Jazz Festival, thanks to Irish expat Caitriona Fallon.

The former Riverdance lead vocalist moved to Tauranga at the end of 2016 from Cork in Ireland, and is excited to be performing in her first National Jazz Festival with her band.

“Before I moved here I was in a band called ‘Cookie and The Vaudevilles’,” says Caitriona, “and we kind of just ended up in the jazz scene.

“We never set out to be jazz musicians, but that was the closest genre to what we played. There are blues and swing influences in what I do – just easy listening.”

She first performed in the Tarnished Frocks and Divas ‘Zoetica’ show last year, and people were soon asking her where they could hear her sing more. So she formed a band with husband Marc Anderson (drums), Wayne Melville (bass), Aaron Wright (guitar) and Leon Gray (piano).

And Caitriona says she’s had an ambition to play at the festival before she even arrived on our shores.

“My husband Marc used to take part in the youth competitions when he was a kid, so I knew what it was about,” she explains.

“I’d done similar things in Ireland, so this is something I really wanted to be a part of.”

Leon, whom Caitriona met through a mutual acquaintance, has been playing piano for 25 years. Originally the plan was to have him accompany her on piano, but they soon grew into a proper band.

With a background in musical theatre, Leon says all styles have the potential for improvisation, which is something that particularly attracts him to jazz.

“Jazz just uses a certain set of codes and scales. I like it as it’s more relaxed – there’s more freedom with it.”

Caitriona and her band will be playing in the Blink Jazz Lounge (in the Baycourt X Space) at 6pm this Thursday.

The show is almost sold out, so to book one of the final places, visit: jazz.org.nz