While some associate fiddles and bodhrans with traditional Irish music, Paul Joseph and his quartet have transformed the folksy sounds of Ireland into unique jazz arrangements for their St. Patrick’s Day Jazz concert.
The group will perform on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Mary’s Nativity Church in Flushing.
“What’s interesting is the connection between jazz and Irish music,” Joseph said. “Jazz was originated by African Americans and Irish music by the Irish. Both groups went through times of hardship. Now the Irish didn’t suffer as much, but there was hardship felt by many of the Irish immigrants.”
Joseph is known for creating unexpected jazz arrangements.
“I always like to retain the essence of the music,” he said. “So I want to pay homage to great Irish music put in a context that a jazz player can express themselves. The music, structurally, is jazz but internally we take the essence of Irish music and cloaking it in the jazz.”
Using this technique allows for turning older songs such as “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” into something fresh without losing the reminiscent feel the music has for an audience.
“We like to have people to feel the spirit of the music and we also want to present it in a whole new way and hopefully, even people who are not that fond of Irish music come away liking it,” Joseph said. “I want it to be a good music experience.”
The composer and pianist said he came up with the pieces by sitting with each classic, playing it over and over again until it became familiar enough for him to build on it and create a whole new version. He then brings the work to his fellow musicians: drummer Mike Corn, bassist Edgar Mills and violinist Susan Mitchell.
“We want to feed people’s souls, we want to make it as nutritional as possible,” Joseph said. “All the pieces are very well known and we want the audience to understand what the variations are but we structure them in a way that works them into a whole program. Each one will vary from the last. We do a lot of rhythmic tones.”
Joseph has held the St. Patrick’s Jazz concert several times in the past two years and said last year, the audience seemed to enjoy the variations to old favorites.
“It’s not a dance party or a samba event but the music will be enjoyable,” Joseph said.
In addition to the quartet, Joseph invited guest vocalist Michelle Kraust to accompany them on a few numbers.
Mary’s Nativity Church is located at 46-02 Parsons Blvd. Guests can enter the parish center on Jasmine Avenue.
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
For those interested in attending the performance, visit pauljoseph.com or call (718) 359-5996.
“It’s such great music and to take it and start playing around with it has been a great experience,” Joseph said. “This will be your last chance to hear it and I think anyone who comes will enjoy themselves. It won’t meet any expectations because I don’t think many people will come with expectations but it will be a great show.”