Review By Ian Patterson
Jazz In The Round
Belfast, N. Ireland
March 31, 2023

Sergei Rachmaninoff surely wouldn't have minded. As Chamber Choir Ireland was tackling the Russian composer's choral masterpiece All Night Vigil in a Belfast monastery, across town in Ballyhackamore another master was holding forth. Guitarist Tommy Halferty has been honing his craft for over fifty years, and when an opportunity to see one of the greats of modern jazz guitar comes knocking, it would be foolish to ignore the call.

Like Louis Stewart, whom the Derry man studied with in the late '70s, Halferty is not as widely known as he should be. But collaborations with Benny Golson, Stephane Grappelli, George Mraz, Lee Konitz, Martial Solal and Norma Winstone, amongst others, attest to his pedigree. Often reductively referred to as the greatest jazz guitarist in Ireland, Halferty is in fact, near the top of the tree wherever you care to look for comparisons—past or present.

tommy halferty irish times

Tommy Halferty invites Norma Winstone review: a musical romance rekindled

By Cormac Larkin

The musical romance between Derry guitarist Tommy Halferty and London vocalist Norma Winstone began when they met as tutors on the now-legendary jazz summer school at the University of Ulster in the early 1990s. Like some exotic orchid, it’s a relationship that blooms only occasionally – as often as their busy schedules allow – but it’s always worth the wait.

Halferty is part of that pioneering cohort of Irish jazz musicians who heard the great Louis Stewart in the 1970s and realised that aspiring to the highest levels of artistry was possible for an Irish-based musician.

Excellent musicianship all add up to a fine lesson in the art of the jazz guitar trio

burkinaVeteran Irish guitarist Tommy Halferty has played in numerous settings over the past four decades, from duos with Stephane Grappelli, John Abercrombie and John Etheridge to small ensemble forays with the likes of George Mraz, Lee Konitz and Benny Golson. Perhaps it's in a trio format, however, where Halferty feels most at home, crafting notable collaborations with John Wadham and Ronan Guilfoyle in the early 1980s, with Guilfoyle and Keith Copeland in the 1990s and with Jean Philippe and Christophe Lavergne for the past twenty five years. Here, Halferty's latest trio incarnation pits him with two of Dublin's best in Kevin Brady and Dave Redmond on a highly enjoyable set that balances power and nuance, freedom and form.

Excerpts from: Think Global, Play Local


The Journal of Music In Ireland

Ireland's Bi-Monthly Music Magazine

Barely two hours after their Royal gig, Carroll, Buckley and Carpio were onstage again at the Heather House Hotel, joining Ronan Guilfoyle, Tommy Halferty and trumpeter Paul Williamson for a late-night exploration of Miles Davis' electric period of the late sixties/early seventies. In albums like In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, Davis created brooding, evocative music that could also be incredibly delicate. Revolutionary at the time, it has maintained its freshness across the decades, especially as presented by this exceptional group of musicians, who took full advantage of Davis' mastery at creating improvisational settings. Williamson and Buckley traded several fiery exchanges, and Tommy Halferty's guitar runs, while uniquely his own, captured expertly the spirit of John McLaughlin. It was also great to hear Guilfoyle playing electric bass, as opposed to amplified acoustic, particularly on pieces that depend so thoroughly on its forceful pulse.

Halferty also played in a very different context when he accompanied Norma Winstone at Bray Town Hall. With the minimum of rehearsal, this duo delivered a perfectly paced blend of standards and originals that showcased Winstone's great skill as lyricist, interpreter of popular song and improviser. Tom Waits' 'San Diego Serenade' and Kenny Wheeler's 'Old Times' (retitled 'How It Was Then', with lyrics by Winstone) give some idea of the range of this set, which climaxed with John McLaughlin's 'Little Miss Valley', a thrilling, wordless blues dialogue between voice and guitar. Winstone is a worthy model for the current crop of young Irish singers, including Cormac Kenevey, who was in fine form at the Royal as he showcased songs from his new album (see the review elsewhere in this issue).

Original article written by Kevin Stevens.

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Excerpts from the

Sunday independent 28 December 2008

The rapport between Norma Winstone and Tommy Halferty is nothing short of phenomenal. The vocal/guitar duo played a richly varied programme at the Bray Jazz Festival. Also featured in Bray was Mare Nostrum, a colourful trio composed of Jan Lundgren (piano), Richard Galliano (accordion) and Paulo Fresu (trumpet).

Original article written by Grainne Farren