John Donegan, The Irish Sextet: Light Streams

Pianist Donegan's Dublin-recorded, largely hard-bop styled set features reedmen Michael and Richie Buckley and trumpeter Linley Hamilton


John Donegan is a native of Ireland now living in Hertfordshire. However, he went to Dublin to record this album with an all-Irish personnel. The music is based on the hard-bop and modal style developed in the 50s and 60s – music that has become the new traditional jazz over the years.

The lineup is compared by the sleeve note writer with that of Miles Davis’s Milestones and Kind Of Blue sessions, and the type of instruments used and the manner of playing do remind of those classics. This a well-organised sextet with five solid musicians and the leader’s originals are well structured for improvised solos.

The strongest soloist is the leader himself on piano. His lines are driving, mostly chunky and inventive. Although most selections (all written by Donegan) are for sextet, arguably the best tracks are those by the quartet featuring just Michael Buckley’s flute and the rhythm section, along with Sonorial, a solo piano piece on which Donegan improvises effectively.

Buckley is very melodic and inventive on flute on Light Streams and this is an attractive line. Another test of a good hard-bop type band is the blues and here the final track, Blues For KJ is a sturdy 12-bar effort. Showtime is a strong hard-bop piece in the tradition featuring tasty solos by Donegan and Richie Buckley on tenor.

A standard or two might have added melodic content to an otherwise lively and well-played album. The rhythm section functions impressively throughout.

What’s This?; Close Nearby; Reflect On This; Along Came Freddie; Seb’s Story; Light Streams; Show Time; Sonorial; Sinto-Me Bem; Blues For K.J (64.26)
Michael Buckley (as, ss, f); Richie Buckley (ts); Linley Hamilton (t); John Donegan (p); Dan Bodwell (b); John Daly (d). Dublin, 18 & 19 April 2023.
Jayde Records