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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blue Note gets "Fest-ive"

In honor of its 30th anniversary, the institution will host the first inaugural Blue Note Jazz Festival during the month of June, the club announced this past week. Throughout the month, more than 80 shows featuring established jazz legends and rookie experimentalists will take place across the city.
The club is hosting the Festival to fill the void left by promoter and producer George Wein’s New York Jazz Festival, which usually occurs in June but which is on hiatus this year. Wein himself will perform at the Blue Note’s Festival in mid-June.
Programming runs the gamut from more traditional legends like Dave Brubeck and Chaka Khan to edgier picks like Duncan Sheik, The Roots, Igmar Thomas & the Cypher. The Harlem Gospel Choir will also perform. Blue Note hopes to promote cross-pollination of music by mixing different acts in hopes of appealing to varied demographics. Both Mos Def and Lupe Fiasco have hosted shows at the club, a testament to the gradual fusion of jazz with other genres and subsequent interest of younger audiences.
“Over the past five years, we’ve adapted to changes in music,” said Steven Bensusan, president of Blue Note.  “We’ve paired hip hop and jazz, for example. We want to mix up the elements.”
The Festival events will take place all over the city, including Highline Ballroom, B.B King’s, Terminal 5 and Mercury Lounge. There will also be an act at Central Park’s Summerstage, which has yet to be announced.
While Bensusan hopes to attract diverse audiences, he doesn’t believe jazz has been relegated solely to the milieu of the 50-plus set.
“This isn’t a dead industry,” he said. “Our audience is a mix of college students, people in their 30s, tourists and the 50-plus.”
If the Festival is successful this year, the Blue Note hopes to roll it out on an annual basis. You can see the show schedule here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Jus a Quick peek @TEDx Irie

Reedman Damon Riley blew in for a quick but scintillating spell at the TEDx Irie event at the Courtleigh Auditorium on Saturday last. Check back on Jazz Bus and also on http://bizfinty.blogspot. com for more on the great TEDx Irie event.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Channeling 'Bra' : Remebering Wilton 'Bra' Gaynair @ the IOJ

We braved the rain, and power cuts to head down to the  Institute of Jamaica at the corner of East and Tower Streets, in the heart of Kingston South. We were richly rewarded, bit th by the band, comprising Tony Greene on tenor sax; Ozou'ne on piano; Shurwayne Thompson on bass guitar and Obed Davis on drums, as you will see in the pics, but also by Herbie Miller's multi-media discourse on the great saxophonist's life, work and outlook.

Simply.....the Best

It was billed as "simply Myrna" and save for the presence of a few dancers and the more welcome intervention of the Cari-Folk Singers, that's exactly what audiences got at the Courtleigh Auditorium Saturday night. And take it from me, Myrna Hague was more than enough.

Ably supported by a rotating musical cast (anchored by Desi Jones on drums), was in superb vocal form in front of a full, and very appreciative house. But that was far from the whole story. Displaying all the verve, sensitivity and instant rapport that has seen her shine on stages in Italy, the UK, Malaysia and myriad other destinations, she cooed, growled, trilled and shimmied her way into the hearts of the crowd, including a few younger ones who might not have been aware of her song and stage prowess. Her act covered show tunes, jazz standards, and reggae, and included a new single, a cover of "Broken-hearted Melody" By the time the band, including soloists Dean Fraser and Rupert Bent rejoined for a rousing finale of Paul Simon's "Diamonds In The Soles Of  Her Shoes" all appetites were virtually sated.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blues on the Green in pics

Review to follow soon - great performances all round

Saturday, February 26, 2011

US sax man blows up hope in Jamaica


For American saxophonist Brent Birckhead (left), a visit to Jamaica, under the auspices of the United States Embassy was a coveted gig, and not just for a tropical break in the middle of winter. Through a workshop hosted by the Embassy on the campus of the capital city's Edna Manley College for the performing arts(EMC), it offered the 2010 Downbeat Poll winner a chance to connect with the renowned Jamaican musical spirit

For youngsters like  trumpet player Sheldon Griffiths(below left) from Kingston's troubled and depressed inner cities, it meant even more. The lanky Griffiths, who is part of a charity programme called St Patrick's Foundation played Bob Marley's No Woman Nuh Cry, in the process inspiring the clinician who after a minute or two of .  listening to Griffiths, eased into the tune with dexterity and tenderness

In addition to St Patrick's The workshop participants were drawn from members of the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force Band, the Sam Sharpe Community Band from the western capital of Montego Bay, students at the EMC, and high schools from the southern parishes of Clarendon, St Catherine and the capital, Kingston.

After bringing all the participants on the auditorium stage for an impromptu "group improv" Birckhead challenged the gathering to nourish a vision of themselves as great and to practice so that they could one day eclipse him and other leading players.

The programme, which also included a live performance the following evening inside Kingston's Emancipation Park, came at a time when Kingston's music scene, in deep depression after a vibrant heyday (up to the mid 1980s) is once again showing signs of life. Venues new and old are offering live programmes with instrumental as well as vocal performers. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Sample


The following is a sample minicast of recent CDs and other items from the site (from set to the tune of Dr Lonnie "The Turbanator" Smith

Jazzin Up Downtown

THE Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston will benefit from a fund-raising concert to be staged by The Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) in collaboration with the Ward Theatre Foundation (WTF), as another in the Sunday Morning Concert Series on Sunday, March 6. The concert simply titled 'Jazz for the Ward' is scheduled for 11:00 am in the Institute's Lecture Hall, at the Tower Street entrance.
Jazz for the Ward will feature accomplished musicians Nicholas Laraque on flute; tenor and alto saxophones, Dr Carol Ball on piano, as well as multi-talented jazz vocalist, Myrna Hague. The concert will be presented under the patronage of Leonora Rueda, Ambassador of Mexico to Jamaica, in recognition of the strong cultural ties between both countries

The Ward Theatre has been "under construction" since it was severely damaged by Hurricane Dean in 2007. Work was completed on the roof, stage and some outer areas in 2010. However, the building is still not ready for commercial use and the Foundation is preparing to award a contract for a complete refurbishing/ reconstruction to facilitate re-opening of the Ward in 2012. Financing for this final phase of the project is expected to begin by mid-year and will be provided by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fluid & more: CD Reviews

welcome aboard th Jazz Bus  for 2K11. Thanks to all our friends, contacts  and well-wishers for your support through 2010, and we intend to do even greater work this year as we advance improvised music. Our review bag today features the latest from soprano sax explorer,  Jane Ira Bloom, some freshly "reFused" sound from Heavy Tin, new Orleans 'force of nature' Trombone Shorty's "Backatown" and guitarist Chris Crocco and his aptly named Fluid Trio

Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Verve)

Visitors to the Monterery Jazz fest this past fall would have experienced the boundless energy and razor-sharp musicianship of Troy 'Trombone Shorty' Anderson. Now, Anderson, and his co-horts have attempted to bottle some of that "We do it all" spirit in this disc, and happily, little has been lost in the process. The infectious grooves are all there, undiluted and even if the madcap motions and shifts of the live show are not fully replicated in the sound, there's enough for the listener to put himself vicariously in the performance space. Anderson very nearly does it all - multiple instruments, and vocals on some tracks, but he does get some help, notably from rocker Lenny Kravitz on 'Something Beautiful". The instrumental tracks generally outshine the vocal one, but its all shot through with the leader's irrepressible optimism. This si good-time music for anytime.

Heavy Tin - reFused (Concinnity Records)
A similar spirit pervades this CD, a follow-up to the fused jazz disc released last fall.
Provocateurs BR Pearson on piano and Izzy Reel (bass) have added Viktor Lorak on drums to further round out their bop-funk explorations, and the difference can be heard on steamrolling tracks like "Hammer Dat!" and "Bop Bomb" Which is not to say that the group doesn't know how to ease up on the gas: "Sweet Beet" begins in classic ballad style, with Pearson's gently contemplative yet expansive pianisms and Lorak's subtle brush work, while "Simple Saviour" could have formed part of the soundtrack of any contemporary Oscar-worthy drama.

But its clear that reFused is meant  to convey the fun of the music, even the brief liner notes betray a sly sense of humour. The intention is to impart a feel-good vibe to the listener, but on the band's own terms, without pandering.

In that, they have succeeded handsomely.  

Jane Ira  Bloom - WingWalker (Outline)

Jane Ira Bloom is hardly the first jazz artist to reference the cosmos, but she's one of the cleverest.

Her latest exploration of inner and outer space is chock full of re-imaginings and re-constitutions of existing conventions. Early case in point: "Life on Cloud 8" presents a striking contrast to the blissful ignorance of "Cloud 9" and presents instead a strutting, struggling, even somewhat menacing kind of drudgery. Bloom is well aided in this by her collaborators- Mark Helias on bass, drummer Bobby Previte and Dawn Clement on piano and Fender Rhodes.
'Freud's Convertible" suggests a stroll rather than a drive, but one in which the iconic psychoanalyst is attentive to the varied stimuli of his environment;Bloom's soprano suggests waves of thoughts and ideas - thorny issues being confronted, if not resolved. "Rooftops Speak Dreams" conjures up lazy nights of fascination, gazing at the stars from some preferred vantage point.

Of particular note is the final track, and the only cover, "I Could Have Danced All Night". Yanking it from the heady, romantic delirium of "My Fair Lady" Bloom's solo rendition instead sounds like the wishful thinking of a dance marathon loser, or maybe the wistful recollections of one who can no longer dance at all.

The Chris Crocco Fluid Trio +
Guitarist Chris Crocco has devoted his career thus far to the quest for authentic expression - ie, he has sought to let his music speak to whatever his life experiences may be at the particular time.

Such phrases may seem lofty, but in various musical combinations, Crocco has made his explorations palpable, and this latest iteration is no exception, boasting both impressive compositions and instrumental dynamism, as one might expect from the presence of George Garzone, Peter Slavov and Francisco Mela.

The songs vary in both tempo (fast to slow) and pitch (loud to
soft) and more importantly, their open-ended structures leave plenty of room for
all the players to fill. Indeed, Crocco's highest virtue as a leader may be in his innate
sense of when to push forward with his largely single-line musings and when to hang back and
allow his excellent partners to take his ideas forward. The drumming of Mela in particular, is a treat, hopping across the set one moment, pounding authoritatively the next and near silent another moment.

The Fluid Trio + is testament to the sonic benefits that come from focussing on the integrity of musical interplay in the moment; one doesn't waste any energy trying to avoid cliches - they simply have no room to enter.