Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Guilfoyle, Ronan (Joseph)

Guilfoyle, Ronan (Joseph), bassist, teacher and composer; b. Dublin, Ireland, 5 March 1958. His parents, Brendan Guilfoyle (1927-1975) and Mary Mullarkey (b. 1926) were both born in Dublin. His siblings were also all born in Dublin: Eithne (b.1956), Conor (b. 1960, a jazz drummer), Bairbre (b. 1962), Fiona (b. 1963), Maeve (b. 1965), Brendan (b. 1967) and Darragh (b. 1969, a drum and bass DJ in NY.

He's mainly self-taught, with the exception of attendance at the Banff Jazz Workshop in Canada in 1986/87, where his teachers included: Dave Holland, Steve Coleman, John Abercrombie, Richie Beirach and Dave Liebman. Guilfoyle is a major figure on the Irish jazz scene and has developed an international reputation as a performer, teacher and composer. He began his career with Louis Stewart's group in the early 1980's and studied at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1986 and 1987.

Performing on the acoustic bass guitar since the early 1980s, Ronan is now one of the instrument's leading exponents, and is much in demand as a bassist, both in his native Ireland and on the international jazz scene. Among the people he has performed with are Dave Liebman, Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Copeland, Brad Mehldau, John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell, Benny Golson, Jim McNeely, Sonny Fortune, Andy Laster, Simon Nabatov, Richie Beirach, and Tom Rainey. He has also been leading his own groups since the mid 1980s, and his groups have toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Ronan has been composing for classical ensembles since 1993, specializing in compositions which feature both improvised and written music. He has had great success in this field and has now a large body of work that ranges from solo piano pieces, to chamber works, to orchestral compositions. He has had commissions from a wide range of ensembles and organizations including the RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin, The Opus 20 String Orchestra in London, and the European Jazz Youth Orchestra. He has also been commissioned to write works for many great soloists including the saxophonist David Liebman, the violinist Michael D'arcy and the virtuoso accordionist Dermot Dunne.

Ronan has also acquired a formidable reputation as a composer in the world of contemporary jazz, and his music has been performed by such jazz luminaries as Dave Liebman, Kenny Werner, Kenny Wheeler, Keith Copeland, John Abercrombie, Andy Laster, Simon Nabatov, Richie Beirach, Tom Rainey, Julian Arguelles, Rick Peckham, and Sonny Fortune.

He has been invited to teach this subject at many schools around the world including Berklee College of Music, The New School, and is an associate Artist of the Royal Academy of Music in London, and has also lectured on it for the International Music Congress (UNESCO) in Copenhagen. Ronan is the founder of and head of the jazz department at Newpark Music Centre in Dublin, the only school offering post-secondary jazz education in Ireland.

Devsirme (1997); Ronan Guilfoyle's Lingua Franca: Bird (1999), Exit (2003)
As a co-leader:
With Simon Nabatov: 6 by 2 (1987); With Mike Nielsen and Conor Guilfoyle: Part One (1996)
As sideperson:
Pat LaBarbera: Ask a Simple Question (1988); Septet Music: Septet Music (1996); Khana: Khanda (1996); Keith Copeland: The Irish Connection (1996), Round Trip (1997), Live in Limerick (1998); Dave O'Rourke and Lewis Nash's Celtic Collective: Aislinn (A vision) (1999); Tanya Kalmanovitch: Hut 5 (2001); Khanda with the Karnataka College of Percussion: 5 Cities (CD and DVD) (2003)

Radio and TV broadcasts:
2001 "Jazz Voices" Documentary on RTE radio (Irish national RTE),
2001 "5 Cities" 2 documentary films on RTE television (Irish national TV), the first following the group Khanda on its tour of India followed in the second film by the concert in Dublin in which my "5 Cities" suite was performed.

Wired (2002) Independent short film.

Unissued recordings:
1998: Live recording from Dublin with Enrico Pieranunzi (pno) and Eliot Zigmund (dms)
2002: 5 hours of live recordings with Julian Arguelles (saxophones), and Jim Black (drums)

He's also written an educational book on the expansion of the rhythmic
language of jazz - "Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation" (1999)
Magazine and newspaper articles:
October 1986 "Sunday Times"   - "How Ronan Stayed Ahead"
March 1989 "Music Ireland"   - "At the fundament of Jazz"
March 1991 "Sunday Business Post"   - "Rhythm sequence written in Brass"
February 1996 "Trinity College Journal"   Bringing jazz to the Masses"
September 1997 "Sunday Tribune"   - "It"s Only a Synthesiser"
October 1997 "Irish Times"   - "Brothers in Rhythm"
September 1999 "Irish Times"   - "Music of the Moment"
February 2001 "Sunday Tribune"   - "A Fusion of Spirit"
April 2001 "Irish Times"   - "Seeing how it goes on the night"

Website interviews:

1997: Julius Hemphill Composition First Prize
2002: The radio documentary "Jazz Voices" for which he did the music, won the Prix D"Italia in the "best music documentary" category.
2003: He was elevated to "Aosdana" an Irish, government funded, organisation which recognises high achievement in the creative arts in Ireland the first jazz musician to be inducted.

Contact information:
10, O'Rourke Park
County Dublin

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