Acclaimed jazz pianist bringing sextet to Westport

Going Out

PIANO MAN Jazz musician John Donegan, whose original compositions and command of a wide variety of styles have drawn a large following.

Ciara Moynihan

For its October gig, Westport Jazz is moving from its more-usual home of Madden’s Bar at the Clew Bay Hotel to Westport Town Hall Theatre. The move signals the anticipated popularity of the concert, which will see acclaimed modern jazz pianist and composer John Donegan grace the stage with his Irish sextet.
Born in Cork John Donegan and based in Hertfordshire, UK, Donegan has become a prominent figure on the UK jazz scene while maintaining strong links with his native country.
A prolific musician, he has often been inspired by those closest to him, and a number of his releases have been dedicated to family members, from his 2009 début ‘Song for Ciara’ for his eldest daughter to the 2019 album, ‘A Kite for Kate’, dedicated to his youngest.
A four-star review of ‘A Kite for Kate’ on The Jazz Mann ( lauded Donegan’s ‘command of a variety of styles, as both pianist and composer’ adding that ‘as a writer he also demonstrates an unfailing gift for melody’.
More recently, Donegan composed a suite of 21 contemporary pieces that have been released as a two-CDs, Siamsa, Volumes 1 and 2. Reviewing the suite, Musicians’ Union Magazine wrote: ‘An intriguing combination of classic bebop laced with Irish folk melody, this album from pianist John and his saxophonist friend Tommaso Starace is full of sublime lyrical moments.”
Donegan’s music has been featured on the BBC, Jazz FM, RTÉ and independent radio stations throughout UK and Ireland, and he has performed with a variety of UK, Irish and international artists, including Art Blakey, Art Farmer, Barney Kessel and Greg Abate, Louis Stewart and many more. He cites his major influences as the likes of Bill Evans, Kenny Barron, Wynton Kelly, Bud Powell, Chic Corea and Keith Jarrett.
In April of this year, Donegan released ‘Shadows Linger’ with with his Irish sextet, also known as the John Donegan Sextet – comprised of himself on piano alongside Michael Buckley (of none other than Van Morrison’s band) on alto/soprano saxophone/flute, Richie Buckley on tenor/soprano saxophone, Dan Bodwell on double bass, John Daly on drums and Linley Hamilton on trumpet/flugelhorn.
The album has already garnered much praise, with reviewer Ian Mann commenting: “Although firmly within the jazz tradition his compositions still sound fresh and exciting and the standard of the playing from this stellar Irish sextet is excellent throughout.”
The upcoming John Donegan Sextet gig at Westport Town Hall Theatre – the last on the sextet’s Irish-tour calendar – is a wonderful opportunity to catch top jazz live, up close and personal. No doubt it will prove as popular as the Westport Jazz organisers predict.

The John Donegan Sextet will perform in Westport Town Hall Theatre on Friday, October 21, at 8pm (doors open 7.30pm). For tickets, contact the venue or visit