Born in Derry, Tommy Halferty embarked on his musical career in the late 1970s, taking jazz guitar lessons from Louis Stewart. This highly-regarded musician has performed at festivals in Portugal, Tel-Aviv and in Barcelona. He has duetted with renowned guitarists, John Abercrombie and John Etheridge, and with American alto sax supremo, Lee Konitz.
He once formed a trio with Tommy Hayes on bodhrán and Ronan Browne on pipes which blended traditional music and jazz, and they appeared on T.V. in Germany and Ireland.
In 1991, the guitarist was commissioned to write O’Connell Street for RTÉ's musical celebration of Dublin as Cultural Capital of Europe. He played for President Clinton when he visited Ireland in November 1996. At L'Imaginaire Irlandais the same year, Tommy performed concerts in Nantes, Morlaix and Tréguier in France. The guitarist was also a member of Khanda, which fused Indian, Flamenco, Arabic and Irish music.
He spent many years as a teacher of music, and campaigned successfully to get jazz on to the current Leaving Certificate Music course. In fact, the fast-tempo track, D42 on his new CD, Burkina gets its title from the name of the room where he once taught music as a secondary school teacher.
The nine-track album can be a rumbustious, busy affair with the trio (Dave Redmond, bass, Kevin Brady, drums) firing on all cylinders already by track two, the samba-tinged Norma & Kenny. The opening number, Algiers la Blanche, is more reflective, and conjures a white city in blazing sun, with cool, palm-fringed thoroughfares. Tommy writes of “a strange and wonderful city” in the liner note.
She’s A Woman is not much more than a workaday blues workout and it doesn’t seem of a piece with the rest of the repertoire. One for Annie, on the other hand, is a quietly probing piece, with expressive bass from Dave Redmond. The wistful Paramour is perhaps the richest piece of music on the album, as it reaches for secret places in the soul.
The album’s title, incidentally, refers to Burkina Faso where Halferty's wife Annie – no doubt the dedicatee of the track of that name - helps to fund hospitals and schools for that country's street children.