The Black Magic Big Band was founded in August 1994 by an enthusiastic young trumpeter,Daniel Healy, then aged 15. He brought together local musicians of all ages,many ex-showband players, others culled from local brass bands and vocalist Garrett Phillips. The band,which was originally called the Black Magic Jazz Orchestra, made their first public appearance in the Salthill Hotel in February 1995. Over the next 3 or 4 years they played at venues around Galway including Rosín Dubh and the Queen Street Club.
It was when jazz pianist and composer John Dunne became the musical director that the band really improved. John, with saxophonist Steve Hanks as his assistant, obtained a Monday night residency for the band at BarCuba (now Bar903), beginning in February 2000. With intensive rehearsals and the weekly gig the band had people sitting-up and taking notice.
Another major turning point for the band was when John Dunne and Bob Parsonson,who had by now become the band's manager, persuaded entrepreneur Declan Ganley of Ganley International Ltd to sponsor the further development of the band. The funds enabled John to set-up regular training sessions at St.Patrick's bandhall for aspiring musicians to learn the art of big band music. The only requirements were the ability to read music, be proficient with their instrument and the desire to work like mad.
John and his team of tutors drawn from the Black Magic Big Band obviously got things right, because several of the musicians have made it all the way and play in the band at BarCuba. Declan Ganley was not just a sponsor of the band,but was also a frequent visitor to BarCuba where he actually sang with the band a few times.
The band made its first appearance in the Cork Jazz Festival, playing in the Metropole Hotel on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons to a packed house and rave reviews.
With the aid of sponsorship from Rivada, the band's first album 'This could be the start' was released. This album earned the band the respect of many who had not heard the band live as the band enjoyed a lot of airplay on most of the national radio stations.
John Dunne stepped down as Musical Director in 2005, ably replaced by Stefano Muscovi, who took the band to new musical heights.
The reins were in turn handed to John Fleming in 2007, who was instrumental in the recording of the band's second album, 'At Last'.
'At Last', the band's second album, was released in June, 2008.
After 10 years, the band's residency at Bar Cuba/Bar 903 comes to an end. The band moves to Busker Brownes, in the centre of Galway city.