PERHAPS THE foremost saxophonist of his generation in Ireland, Gay McIntyre is a musician’s musician - famed as much for his incredible technique as for the soulful feeling he puts into every phrase.
The saxophonist played many memorable dates at Flowerfield Arts Centre in the past, often in the company of Louis Stewart. He’s on his way back next week – Thursday March 28th, for his first concert in the new auditorium at the centre.And he’s in fine company – joined by the John Trotter Trio – John on piano, Fiona Trotter on vocals and Rebecca Montgomery on drums.
Gay’s introduction to jazz came indirectly through his father - he and his band played in the Corinthian Ballroom in Londonderry during World War II. Servicemen of many nationalities, including Americans and Canadians, flooded the city at that time. One of those servicemen gave Willy McIntyre a Benny Goodman record, and he took it home to his son.
‘My mother wound up the gramophone,’ remembers Gay, ‘and I hadn’t heard four bars of the music before there were tears in my eyes. My mother said to my father, ‘whatever instrument that is, we have to get him one of them.’ It was a clarinet.
Since then, he’s had a formidable career – one that has seen him rubbing shoulders with UK jazz royalty like Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Humphrey Lyttleton, and offered a chance to come to the USA by none other than Nat King Cole.
The famed Derry musician was a mainstay of mainstream Northern Ireland TV, as a regular on ‘Teatime with Tommy’ on Ulster Television, and then for a time playing with both the BBC Northern Ireland orchestra and the RTE orchestra, dividing his time between Belfast and Dublin.
Gay was the impetus behind the now-internationally famous Jazz Festival in Derry and even now in his 70s, he shows no sign of slowing down, and remains a popular and engaging live performer across Northern Ireland.
Tickets for the Flowerfield show are priced at £12, and this includes a complimentary glass of wine or fruit juice at the interval. If you’d like to purchase a ticket, they’re available from the reception at Flowerfield Arts Centre. You can also purchase over the phone using your debit or credit card on (028) 7083 1400.