Wednesday, April 16, 2008
HORNS & STRINGS & OTHER FAVOURITE THINGS
Holy Trinity Restoration Jazz Evening
The fair-sized crowd that converged on the lawns of the Roman Catholic Archbishop’s residence in Kingston on Sunday encompassed the full spectrum of interests: jazz neophytes and casual concert-goers, members of the Catholic faith out to support the cause of their sister church (the proceeds are directed to the ongoing restoration work at the Holy Trinity Cathedral on North Street); fellow musicians (including Skatalites vet Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore) and hardcore jazz aficionados
By night’s end, none of those groups could in any way claim to be disappointed, as the music that unfolded on the stage over the course of about three hours managed the rare feat of satisfying a variety of tastes without comprising - too much - on artistic integrity.
A prime example was the Kingsley Depass Trio, comprising Depass on violin, his brother Stephen on electric bass and Andre Campbell on keyboards. DePass employed a delightfully unconventional style (including simultaneously plucking the neck of the instrument while also bowing the base) that found favour with an audience hitherto largely unfamiliar with the young journeyman. He had a more than worthy foil in Campbell, who brought the two-handed mastery of an Art Tatum into the modern era.
“My Favourite Things” gave way to “Sweet Georgia Brown” and to “Blue Bossa” each selection having snippets of other tunes tucked into the folds of the solos.
Looking fit, fresh and relaxed, main act Dizzy Reece traded in some of his well-known intransigence and stoicism for an engaging demeanour (he spoke to the audience of his pleasure at being in Jamaica to perform and took time to introduce his tunes) as he delivered a ‘playbook’ level rendition of standards. He started with “No Greater Love,”
but it was his near-transcendent “Body and Soul” that was most representative of his mastery - his playing, with calculated bursts of notes, elucidated the difference between dram and bombast that escapes many of our young musicians today.
Karen Smith is perhaps the only female vocalist in Jamaica that could get away with singing the sultry Peggy Lee signature “Fever” in front of two Roman Catholic Archbishops, but after opening with “On A Clear Day[You Can See Forever]” she did just that. What followed might have been put down to a ‘yet another polished, professional Karen Smith show save for an inspired combination with keyboardist Chris McDonald on the Andrea Bocelli-Celine Dion tearjerker, “My Prayer”
Mickey Hanson offered a varied programme encompassing blues, jazz, contemporary pop and bossa in the form of “Recado”
The ‘Iron Man’ award for the evening went collectively to the Skool band, led from the back by drummer Desi Jones and including the aforementioned McDonald, Othneil Lewis on keys, Dale Haslam on bass, and the continually amazing Rohan Reid, who overcame some early audio glitches to really shine on guitar (his “On Broadway” was particularly on point). Save for the DePasse trio, Skool was on stage for the duration of the show, and Reid and Lewis, in particular, appeared to have established some simpatico with Reece in the undoubtedly short time available.
Kudos also to the production co-ordinators, Ricardo Chin Productions for the show (and a good job at the helm by Michael Anthony Cuffe) and for the amenities.
If the Committee for the Restoration of Holy Trinity is any thing as resourceful financially as the musicians proved themselves, then the Kingston landmark should be gleaming inside and out in no time.