It was in Trinidad that the last great new instrument of the 20th Century was born: out of the oil industry, our neighbours to the south gave the world the steel pan, now known universally as the pan.
Fast-forward to the present and a team of Trinis have done it again - this time the instrument carries a more pedestrian name: The Percussive-Harmonic Instrument. But being the inventitive people we are, we've shortened it to PHI.Hi-PHI, Lo-PHI. Just PHI. Its essentially a form of electronic pan that has full MIDI connections and the ability to reproduce a gamut of instrumental sounds, even piano/keyboard)
The new invention will have its Jamaican premiere during the
23rd Anniversary edition of the Jmaaica Ocho RIos Jazz Fest, which had its official (but i nthe true spirit, never too formal) kick-off on Saturday last at Hotel Four Seasons.
Organizer and heartbeat Myrna Hague-Bradshaw told the gathering that the event was being continued as a labour of love, a service to musicians, and of course, a tribute to her late husband, and festival co-founder, Sonny Bradshaw.
Darren Shepard is Trinidadian, but no stranger to Jamaica, having expounded on the steel pan art on several occasions here in the past. He will, in fact be manning the PHI and will be featured in a special Saturday night (June 15) concert at Red Bones the blues Cafe, alongside Harold Davis, who will be keeping up on keyboards as well as vocals.
The festival line-up also includes US alto saxist Idris Ackamoor, himself pretty much an "honorary Jamaican" and whose theatre-infused style (he incorporates dance, spoken word and costuming in his act) is sure to
enthrall audiences, UK-born Jamaican saxophonist Yolanda Brown, fresh off a banner year that saw her win a MOBO award, and keyboardist Dr Kathy Brown. The Jamaica Big Band is unquestionably a staple of the Festival (as it streams towards its Silver year in 2015), and new thus year - but again no stranger - is the Ralph Holding Trio. Holding, a longtime musical collaborator of Hague-bradshaw, recently served as musical direcotr for the renewal of her "Simply Myrna" concert series. Nightly Jazz Jams will be open to all (and all vocal comers) at the 4Seasons. The annual Father's Day Festival Finale unwinds this Sunday At Turtle River Park in the centre of Ocho Rios
The fest will also feature two other stalwart female vocalists: Christine Fisher who, along with life & musical partner Alex Martin-Blanken entertained at the follow-up Jazz Brunch (watch this space for our review) and Keisha Patterson, whose previous CD, Sunday Kind of Love, established firmly her jazz vocal chops and affinity.