Ronan Guilfoyle (b. 1958) 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 1980s and studied at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 1986 and 1987 where his teachers included John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, and Steve Coleman.
Performing on the acoustic bass guitar since the early 1980s, Ronan is now one of the instrument's leading exponents, and is now 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, Andrea Keller, Andy Laster, Emily Remler, Simon Nabatov, Richie Beirach and Tom Rainey. He has also been leading his own groups since the mid 1980s and they have toured extensively in Europe, Asia and North America. He has recorded extensively both as a sideman and as a leader and his output includes the award winning Devsirme in 1997.
Ronan has been composing for classical ensembles since 1993, specialising in compositions that 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 and orchestral compositions. He has had commissions from a wide range of ensembles and organisations including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, 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. In 1997 he won the Julius Hemphill Jazz Composition Competition in the United States.
Over the past 10 years Ronan has become very well known for the teaching of advanced rhythmic techniques for jazz improvisation and his book, Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation, which covers such areas as metric modulation and odd metre playing, is now seen as the standard text for this area. He has been invited to teach this subject at many schools around the world, including Berklee College of Music and The New School, and he is an Associate Artist of the Royal Academy of Music in London. He has also lectured on the topic for the International Music Congress (UNESCO) in Copenhagen. Ronan is the founder and head of the jazz department at Newpark Music Centre in Dublin, the only school offering post-secondary jazz education in Ireland.