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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Air J Jazz fest final night

Some jazz did show up at the Air jamaica Jazz and Blues festival on Saturday night. The New Stylistics
wowed the crowd, but my pick for the night remains Earth Wind & Fire

Strings, swing and the 70s Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues review
    IN putting Saturday night’s superlative closing presentation at the Rose Hall aqueduct into context, we have to the late former prime minister Michael Manley. Floridabased group Strings set a mellow tone to be gin; jazz showed up, bouncy, unassuming yet unapologetic, in the person of Monty Alexander and a wisely chosen crew of special guests; said jazz embraced reggae, with no compromise or dilution on the part of either; and a pair of soul supergroups that blossomed in the 1970s, gave a lesson the musical spirit of that era, a lesson not lost on latterday soul journeyman Anthony Hamilton, who appeared in between.
    In short, the word on Saturday night was love.
    In the generally narrow band of music appreciation that prevails among Jamaicans, Earth Wind and Fire means Reasons and little else. The hordes who streamed into the front of stage area - and clogged the space with their folding chairs (more on that later) were expecting the group to deliver their landmark hit
    immediately and for the love-fest to begin - but Phillip Bailey, Verdeen White and company flipped the script.
    With the volume levels turned up - way up - the band launched a blistering funk attack that proved severe enough to drive many of the uncommitted away from proximity to the speakers.
    The remaining faithful, and the rest of the large audience, were eventually rewarded with the prized tune, part of a suite of ballads that also included In My Heart Tonight and After The Love Is Gone. Thereafter, its was ‘hitsville’ a potpourri of some of their biggest numbers, including Let’s Groove, Got To Get You Into My Life, Devotion and September. The band members exited the stage at this point, prompting some to believe the show was over, but the faithful new better. When they returned and struck up the opening bars of That’s The Way Of The World, one got a sensation of satisfaction very much akin to completing a superlative meal at a five-star restaurant.
    Russell Thompkins and the New Stylistics earlier offered their own musical buffet, one liberally sprinkled with the love ballads, slick dance moves and tight harmonies that made the original group radio staples. Sharp, seasoned and exuding soulster cool in their neatly tailored powder blue suits, the Stylistics made the Aqueduct into an oasis of good taste, decency and sensitivity.
    He may have lacked the sartorial eloquence, but American southerner Anthony Hamilton showed respect for his hosts, as he and his two backup singers were decked out in ‘Jamaica’ T-shirts. Even at the start of his set, there were questions of “Who dis guy?” But if Hamilton came to the MoBay stage a stranger, he certainly left it as a friend, if not a brother. His humility, honesty and genuine affinity for the music came through on selections such as Where I’m From, Charlene, Better Days and Sista Big
    Bones, the later a wry compliment to ‘full-figured’ women.
    In his umpteenth appearance at the jazzfest, piano man Monty Alexander began with a venture into dub, before retracing his musical journey from Jamaica to the US and around the world.
    He got sterling assistance from Freddy Cole (brother to Nat), who sparkled on Route 66 and Straighten Up And Fly Right, from New Orleans native Herlin Riley (an alumnus of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis’ small groups as well as the Jazz @ Lincoln Centre orchestra) on drums; frequent Alexander collaborator, bassist Hassan Shakur and tenor saxophone statesmen Red Holloway and Houston Person. Tony Rebel and Dean Fraser also chipped in to good effect. They set feet a dancing, even as the heavens opened - just briefly- for a moderate shower.


Originally uploaded by mike e.bop.
This one, by ENidfarber (one of 2) at the recent IAJE conference in New York, says it all

Monday, January 22, 2007

Another one-two punch form the Grim Reaper

Brecker- Coltrane
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop.
Was so busy recapping Barbados jazz last week, neglected to mention the sadness of losing two important jazz figures in same day. They may be gone physically, but the musical legacy cannot be erased or spoiled

Another one-two punch form the Grim Reaper

Brecker- Coltrane
Originally uploaded by mike e.bop.
Was so busy recapping Barbados jazz last week, neglected to mention the sadness of losing two important jazz figures in same day. They may be gone physically, but the musical legacy cannot be erased or spoiled

Sunday, January 21, 2007

looking back, looking ahead

Now Is The Time: Looking back,
Jazz First.
BY Michael 'Jazzofonik' Edwards
Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Roman deity Janus whose name was co-opted for the first month in our calendar year, was visually represented as a two-headed man, the heads glancing in opposite directions - one back, one forward.

Mythology aside, the analogy seems entirely appropriate, with one music festival (Barbados Jazz) behind, and another (Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues) immediately upon us.

In keeping with the theme, the recap of the Barbados Jazz Festival will be done in reverse. Beginning with the climatic Sunday evening at Farley Hill national park, which unreservedly joins St Lucia's Pigeon Point as one of the region's most attractive jazz venues (we've seen pictures of the new Air Jamaica Jazz venue in preparation, and indications are certainly very favourable, but we'll reserve final judgement until next week).

In a few hours time, the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival gets underway. This year's version features both an expanded main festival venue, the Rose Hall Aqueduct ground, and an expansion in the number of venues, with shows also slated for Mobay's Half Moon hotel (trumpeter Chuck Mangione and vibist Roy Ayers) as well as the Gardens of the Pegasus in Kingston, which takes the spotlight tonight.

The venue, already known to live music lovers as the home of the Jazz In The Gardens series, will this time host Cuban pop-salsa-funksters Yerba Buena, musical 'oracle' (my term) Marjorie Whylie and her Whylie Whrythms combo and guitarist Maurice Gordon, who can do just about anything he wishes on the instrument.

Over at Rose Hall, the festival gets underway in earnest on its now customary Thursday, with acts drawn from a smorgsbord representing pop, soul and reggae. Yes, the assertion holds true that there's hardly any jazz or blues represented in the Thursday-Sunday run of the event (with the obvious apologies to piano legend, Monty Alexander).

Sure, the hordes of persons heading to Montego Bay will enjoy Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Bolton, Christopher Cross and the return of Kenny Rogers, but perhaps now with some financial success, festival director Walter Elmore may next year look more sincerely into the vast ocean of both emerging and established jazz/blues acts and scoop out more worthy acts to give the Jazz and Blues name the credibility it deserves.

Friday, January 19, 2007


The Many Flavours of Anthony Hamilton for Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues

When the 2007 Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival touches down in Montego Bay Monday, January 23 – Saturday, January 27, soulful singer Anthony Hamilton will make his second trip to Jamaica. His first time to the island, he came intent on soaking up the triple joys of sun, sand and sea. This time he comes to woo Jamaicans with his gritty, soulful and funky music.

A barber by trade, Anthony Hamilton is looking to cut away worry and expose patrons at the Jazz and Blues Festival to a great time. Soul is the space where the spiritual meets the secular and Hamilton captures that beautiful with a rich sound that speaks eloquently of spiritual hymns revealing his back ground in the church as well as fun-loving funky tracks like Sista Big Bones. Sista Big Bones, a tribute to women with curves is one of the most popular tracks on Hamilton’s current album Ain’t Nobody Worryin.

Hamilton points out that the track is a particular favourite of women with curves. “All the women are like, “ ‘We’re so glad that you made a song about us,’” he says. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Mr. Hamilton explains that he grew up with an appreciation for more than skin and bones. “I’m a southern boy,” he says, “and growing up I see those are the women who got it going on.” Revealing a sly sense of humour, Mr. Hamilton explains that the serving of “extra meat” often comes with a side order of “extra personality”.

Ain’t Nobody Worryin has many moods and methods. The album travels from the soaring heights to the murky depths of love with all the joy and pain that is involved. It includes I Know What Love is About that feels like a hymn while Everybody is a very “Reggae-fied” track that will definitely ease Mr. Hamilton’s welcome with Jamaican audiences.

“I understand the spirit behind [Reggae],” Mr. Hamilton says, explaining that Bob Marley and Prince Malachi are among his musical influences. So, he points out that he was attracted to Everybody because it had the feel of authentic Reggae music rather than a “watered down” version.

The spirituality that comes out in is music is by no means accidental or a hold over from another life. Spirituality, he says, is very important to him. “I wouldn’t even be Anthony not doing that,” he says. “I love it, and that’s what I stand for.” Mr. Hamilton points out that he is very interested in the spirit and spirituality that guides traditional black music.

“It’s not just about getting a couple dollars and being with a couple girls in a video,” he says. With a laugh, Mr. Hamilton reveals yet another reason. “My grandmother would whip my butt,” he says. “She’d get up out of the grave and whip me. That’s part of why I do it. I don’t want a whipping.”

His reference to his grandmother’s hand in raising him hints at Mr. Hamilton’s commitment to his family. A father to three sons, Mr. Hamilton speaks of the incomparable joy of having his sons tell him they love him. “My father wasn’t around all along, so I wanted to give them that,” he says.

An understanding of the value of love and family comes through easily with Ain’t Nobody Worryin and Mr. Hamilton admits that a part of what he loves about making music is producing works that mean something to other people. So, not surprisingly, a part of what he is looking forward to at the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is to see which songs strike a responsive chord in the Jamaican audience.

Mr. Hamilton reveals that he knows how vocal Jamaican audiences can be and so expects them to tell him what they like and don’t like. He is also hoping to get a bite out of Jamaican culture. Explaining that in New York he has consumed much Jamaican food but he is looking forward to chomping into the real flavour on home ground. And while he does so, Jamaicans can get a chance to savour his flavour.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Stay tuned for Barbados report

Its been a diverse and even eventful week in Barbados
everything from the Blue not post-bop of terence Blanchard & Co.
to pan-jazz, Prince-inspired funk-gospel-pop (newcomer Hal Linton)
and some mind-blowing Lee Morganesque trumpet from a Cuban player
named Yasseq Manzano -who I will definitely will be checking out
in more detail.
Stay tuned for a fuller report and wrap-up in a few days

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

FOJazz ist meeting

The coinage is mine but it sounds better than Friends of Jazz

Friends of Jazz



4 - 7 P.M.








*LEON DUNBAR-Clarinet   

  *SONNY BRADSHAW-Trumpet-Flugelhorn

OUIDA LEWIS – Percussion/Tap Dance

 *DEAN FRASER-Saxophones   

 *MARY ISAACS-Guest Vocals

DJ JAZZ CD’s – Monte Blake, Harry Graham, Carl Percy, Keith Brown