Cuar’s new album Umhaill was listed as the No 3 Jazz album of the year by the Irish Times in 2022.
Cuar is an Irish chamber music ensemble founded by Neil Ó Lochlainn from Ballyvaughan. The project explores composition and improvisation within the framework of Irish traditional music, playing new music written especially for the group. Citing influences as varied as Tommie Potts, Tony MacMahon, sean-nós singing and uilleann pipe music, on the one hand; and the Karnatak (South Indian) music tradition, composers Morton Feldman, Bela Bartok and downtown Jazz on the other, the music disavows the idea of genre to create a boundary less style rich in melodic detail. Together they forge a unique sound world which establishes a new, distinctly Irish, creative chamber music language.
The group has been featured at festivals and events throughout Ireland and Europe including Paris Jazz festival, Jazzy nights Brussels, Galway Jazz Festival, Féile na Bealthaine, Dingle, Masters of Tradition, Bantry, Kaleidoscope Night Dublin, NUI Galway Arts in Action concert series.
In April 2017 they released their debut album Roscanna on Raelach Records. The album is a 5 movement suite in specular structure inspired and based on Irish dance music forms and sean-nós singing and was described by the Irish Times as “a long awaited ear-craningly beautiful missive from the new post genre frontier’’ Cuar will release its second album on Diatribe records in November 2022. ‘Umhaill’ is a collection of compositions written by Neil Ó Loclainn while resident at the Heinrich Boll cottage, Achill Island.
“Neil Ó Loclainn has an instinct and a feel for different strands of music that allows him to create un-compromised musical worlds that speak with real depth and authenticity” Martin Hayes
“Cuar is redefining the possibilities of Irish traditional music and taking it—roots and branches—into haunting, imaginatively fertile new terrain” Ian Patterson, All About Jazz
“a distinctive musical intelligence that in my opinion is only to be found in a small number of people” Tony MacMahon