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2 Jazz in the Islands
WHAT’S JAZZ INSIDE
Issue #5. Apr 2017
Welcome All There is a growing fascination with the sound of the steelpan in mainstream music circles. The “audacity of creole imagination” that birthed the steelband movement appears to be waning in its influence as more and more steelpan jazz albums are being created outside the corridors of the Trinidad headquarters. In the first years of the 21st century, France has gained traction as a space for creativity and commerce with steelpan jazz. We should not be left too far behind. Bebop and beguine are becoming new musical tropes for a young generation of players from the wider Caribbean. Nigel A. Campbell Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
17 Vaughnette Bigford, creole chanteuse debuts her album Born To Shine After many years of teasing and toying with the Caribbean song book, Bigford releases new album of totally local covers. Jabari Fraser offers an opinion 24 Victor Provost, jazz and steelpan From the Virgin Islands to the world, bebop pannist Victor Provost returns with a new album and a new attitude.
5 Jazz Artists on the Greens Souvenir Programme. 1 April 2017, Trinidad. The premier Caribbean Jazz event in Trinidad and Tobago is here once again. Read the programme in this issue.
22 Etienne Charles’ Carnival oratorio Heralded jazz trumpeter debuts excerpts from his upcoming grand jazz piece, Carnival: The Sound of a People, in his native Trinidad. An overview from the perspective of a Caribbean writer seeking validation of creole intelligence.
4 Djazil and Caraïb to Jazz With France becoming the focus for much ethnic music and jazz fusion, these two native bands are re-charting the pan jazz continuum in the wider world.
2 First Look
A little of this and that; Things to do. Ropeadope Records and steelpan jazz
26 Pan Jazz Picnic 28 Recording Roundup CD/Download Links
PHOTO: MARIA NUNES / ISAAC ROSENTHAL
2 Leon Foster Thomas, Akinola Sennon 3 Andy Narell, Elan Trotman 4 Djazil, Caraïb to Jazz 19 Vaughnette Bigford 24 Victor Provost 27-28 Various Artists Scan the QR codes below the album to connect to the online digital marketplace.
Jett Samm Publishing 37 Newbury Hill Ext., Glencoe, Trinidad and Tobago www.jettsamm.com +1 868 366 6104
Advertising inquiries 868 366 6104, email@example.com Editor and Manager Nigel A. Campbell Art Direction and Design NiCam Graphics Editorial and Advertising Assistant Amanda Carr Contributors Jabari Fraser, Tony Bell, Harold Homer II. Jazz in the Islands is published periodically by Jett Samm Publishing. All material © 2017, Jett Samm Publishing, except where noted, and may not be reprinted without permission. NOT FOR RESALE. Printed in Trinidad and Tobago by Caribbean Print Technologies. Available online at jazz.tt
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A little of this and that, things to do. Ropeadope Records and steelpan jazz
Jazz in the Islands: What is the label’s philosophy for deciding to take up/ sign an artist or delve commercially in a genre? Louis Marks: We work by people first; meaning that we first connect with people through referral and that we look at the intent of the artist and the potential for harmonious collaboration. We are looking for artists who are fully committed to the music, and who are interested in maintaining independence and working to build their own business. I note that the label releases multiple genres. What was the attraction to Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, who appears to be your initial steelpan artist? Jonathan Scales is a serious man, who is following his inspiration to create music that he feels. His approach to the steel pan is somewhat different, as he was not raised in the tradition yet fell in love with the pans. He seeks to place pan in a solid jazz environment, without any particular boundaries. He has become an ambassador of sorts, opening up new 2 Jazz in the Islands
avenues for people to experience the instrument.
AKINOLA SENNON Cousoumeh (Ropeadope Records, 2016) “Akinola Sennon’s Cousoumeh is a mix of effective song writing and performance, and a daring leap into a new way of hearing improvised music from the Caribbean..” —AllAboutJazz
Louis Marks, Ropeadope CEO with pannist Leon Foster Thomas
With the signing of Leon Foster Thomas and Akinola Sennon, two Trinidadians, the label in my estimation became a major player in the dissemination of steelpan jazz. Was the decisions to sign these artists based on previous experience with Scales or was it a demand for this music? If neither, what was the pull for signing? Akinola Sennon contacted me and we hit it off right away. His dedication to the music and to both the people of Trinidad and the message around the development of the instrument intrigued me. Many of the artists in the Ropeadope community these days represent both the music and the social history of the African diaspora, so politics, justice, and human stories are all part of the process. It was much the same meeting Foster - his personality, dedication, and style are very comfortable, down to earth, while his commitment is very real. His music moves me, and I like how each of these three players and composers have unique styles, so that people can hear the range of possibilities with steel pan. ...continued on page 25
Available at BandCamp
LEON FOSTER THOMAS Metamorphosis (Ropeadope Records, 2016) “Foster Thomas certainly has what it takes, compositionally, to frame his instrument in the most favorable light possible...” —AllAboutJazz
Available at BandCamp
PHOTO: LEON FOSTER THOMAS INSTAGRAM
Eclectic US record label, Ropeadope Records, with the signing of Trinidadian steelpan musician Akinola Sennon, had the distinction among American labels of having three pannists among their artist roster. Sennon joined Floridabased jazz fusion musician Leon Foster Thomas, and the North Carolina-bred Jonathan Scales with his Fourchestra. Cognisant of the possibilities for the wider distribution of the steelpan sound via a structured music business model, Jazz in the Islands reached out to Ropeadope CEO Louis Marks to get an idea of where the label saw pan jazz and the music of the steelpan in the mix of genres and sounds on the label.
FIRST LOOK Things to do! THU JUN 22 - 24
FRI MAY 12 - 14
ANDY NARELL Dis 1. 4. Raf (Listen 2 Entertainment, 2016) “Narell on this album weaves a new path for the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago to tread that encompasses influences beyond the archipelago.” —Caribbean Beat
St Kitts Music Festival Basse Terre, St Kitts. www.stkittsmusicfestival.net
PHOTO: THA /ST LUCIA TOURISM / ST KITTS TOURISM / PURE GRENADA MUSIC FESTIVAL
SAT APR 22 - 30
St Lucia Jazz Pigeon Island and elsewhere, St Lucia
Available at iTunes.com
WED MAY 5 - 7
ELAN TROTMAN’S TROPICALITY Double Take (Island Muzik, 2016) “He has refreshed the sound and arrangements of his Caribbeanrhythm infused smooth jazz to make them shine through...” —Caribbean Beat
Tobago Jazz Experience Pigeon Point and elsewhere, Tobago www.tobagojazzexperience.com/
Pure Grenada Music Festival Port Louis, St George’s, Grenada www.grenadamusicfestival.com
Available at iTunes.com
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The French Connection A pan jazz revolution is happening in France
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DJAZIL Djazil (Hot Shoe Records, 2011) “...this group of talented musicians and composers create a complex tapestry of melodies and rhythms imprinted on a classic improvisational jazz form.” —CDBaby Available at CD Baby
CARAÏB TO JAZZ Four Elements (Caraïb To Jazz Productions, 2014) “As a follow-up to their debut from just two years ago, Four Elements shows a greater understanding of the musical impulses that these isles project towards jazz. Hot music!” —Jazz in the Islands Available at iTunes.com
PHOTO: AMY R SMITH
The City of Light has a reputation for being a welcoming haven to Black culture and the arts from the New World. We know that many jazz age musicians and authors moved to Paris rather than face racism at home in the US in the 20th century. The tenuous relationship that France had in these Antilles marked by revolution and colonialism has allowed the formation of enclaves of creativity here in the islands that still have a home in France. Steelpan and pan jazz, and by extension calypso have also enjoyed a home in France and that mixture of exile, ex-pat and extended citizen has thrown up some interesting developments in the music. A growing admiration in France for African and African diaspora music including music from the Caribbean and Caribbean-influenced music was brought Djazil is from top Cédric Baud (guitar), home with the recent award winning exploits of calypso pioneer Calypso Rose. Lukmil Perez (drums), Jonathan Jurion (piano), Thérèse Henry (bass) and From 1993 with the formation of Mathieu Borgne (steelpan) Calypsociation Steelband, and those beginnings of cultural exchange between Djazil featuring Borgne and Caraïb to France and Trinidad and Tobago to Jazz featuring Lalsingué. the relocation of Andy Narell from Djazil is a meeting of five musicians the US to France in the early 2000s with varied origins and artistic influences, through his recordings with Sakésho and focused on performance of their own Calypsociation, original works. It started in the first decade 2005: Thérèse Henry knew of the new that Mathieu Borgne and century saw Cédric Baud had written a growth of some compositions and awareness of organized a first rehearsal the possibilities with guitar, steel-pan and of pan in a new bass. A few weeks later, milieu. Lukmil Perez joined the From this Caraïb to Jazz is clockwise from new band and the group scene, pannists quickly defined a unique top, Grégory Louis (drums), Mathieu Borgne Régis Thérèse (Bass), Laurent and complex vibe adeptly Lalsingué (Steel pan) and and Laurent incorporating the distinctive Jonathan Jurion (piano) Lalsingué sound of the steelpan into a collaborated, very modern jazz idiom. first in Calypsociation, then struck off The quartet played concerts for four independently to create new bands years but then perceived the advantage of that carried the message of pan jazz to expanding their musical palette by adding incorporate French Caribbean rhythms: ...continued on page 25
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SOUVENIR PROGRAMME 6 Jazz in the Islands
James Jessey Joseph............................5:00 pm William Roblejo’s Trío..........................6:00 pm Victor Provost.......................................7:00 pm Vaughnette Bigford...............................8:00 pm Élan parlē...............................................9:00 pm *subject to change
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WELCOME FROM PRODUCTION ONE
elebration time, as we welcome all music lovers and Caribbean jazz lovers to the 15th edition of Jazz Artists on the Greens™. A milestone in live music production, especially for a genre and title that is not the most popular in Trinidad and Tobago. From a gathering where jazz musicians could play for discerning fans to dreams of being as big as some of the regional jazz festivals—many of which have called it quits—to becoming an event on the calendar of many here, we at Production One Ltd are extremely proud of the achievements made to this point. We celebrate longevity! Nothing is perfect, we have had a few missed commercial opportunities, we had resignations and we have seen the vagaries of audiences fluctuating when we had to make hard decisions on ticket prices and venue location over the years, but through it all, an ever growing fan base of dedicated patrons has made it possible to endure the ups and downs of festival management, the rainstorms, the competition from regional festivals that have ultimately gone with the wind. We celebrate persistence! As our tag line states, “Come for the lime...Discover the music,” we continue to encourage patrons to come early, stay long, to walk with their picnic blankets and lounging chairs and umbrella, and discover the new, the familiar,
the fun. Over the years we have lost dedicated patrons and musicians, who graced us with their presence and sustained this festival. We celebrate them too! Trinidad and Tobago in 2017 is not the same economically as it was in 2003. One constant however, is that people like to relax with music. Live music even better. The growth of the industry has allowed for a diversification of talent and the gradual elimination of that barrier people put up when the word ‘jazz” is used. That was a goal from the inception, “to demystify jazz for a younger crowd.” Those circumstances over the years that have allowed the event to grow, and keep patrons coming back for more are cherished and won’t be taken for granted. We celebrate loyalty! Looking down the road, we have recognised that the audience has grown with us—if you came to JAOTG 2003 as a young adult in your 20s, you could be 40 plus this year! Tastes change, style, change, but the constant is great performance and talent. A true pan-Caribbean Jazz event with artists from Haiti, US Virgin Islands, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago awaits you. This 15th Anniversary of the biggest Caribbean Jazz event in Trinidad and Tobago aims to be one to remember. We celebrate you! We look forward to seeing everyone again on 17 March, 2018 for the 16th edition of Jazz Artists on the Greens™.
Production One Ltd. is a company committed to the top quality production of high profile concerts and to expanding the audience for Caribbean jazz, and other live music in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. This will be achieved not by compromising the music but through a dynamic and highly visible marketing strategy and by developing the public’s trust through a commitment to quality. In addition to fulfilling the role of a traditional concert promoter, we also specialize in providing opportunities for sponsorship by adding value to events through sophisticated marketing, advertising, design, public relations and production of collateral media. Directors: Anton Doyle, Rolf Doyle, Martin Wellington, Maria Wellington, Keith Niles, Nigel A. Campbell Production One Ltd. PO Box 1919, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago firstname.lastname@example.org www.productiononeltd.com
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JAZZ ARTISTS ON THE GREENS™ 2017 SOUVENIR PROGRAMME
WHO’S ON THE GREENS IN 2017 With the Caribbean as our home, and the music of these islands influencing how we define, how we listen, how we enjoy this music called jazz, Jazz Artists on the Greens™ is particularly proud of the cast of performers at this 15th Anniversary Celebration. Since 2003, the producers have endeavoured to select a balanced cast of performers that can entertain and sustain for the five hours we enjoy the Greens. The cast is truly a panCaribbean one representing the Greater Antilles—Haiti and Cuba—and the Virgin Islands and Trinidad and Tobago. For one evening, we can all be one and celebrate the sounds, the vibes, the ambience of the musicians and singers. The 2017 cast features three acts that have performed on the Greens in prior years. Contemporary Caribbean jazz band élan parlē mark a triumphant return having performed
at the première edition of the event. William Roblejo’s Trío from Cuba also perform a second time since their Greens debut in 2010 at the former location at the UWI Department of Creative and Festival Arts grounds in St Augustine. Vaughnette Bigford made her Greens debut there too in 2009. Joining the returning jazz artists are two acts at different career points; Haitian guitarist James Jessey Joseph with his A+ Band now making the big move in the festival events, and US Virgin Islander Victor Provost who is an acclaimed steelpan jazz virtuosos with touring and recording accolades to earn the respect of many. Caribbean Jazz has come into its own, and we can now enjoy the fruits of the labour made by pioneers and music merchants that make us smile, dance and enjoy the Greens.
PHOTO: MARIA NUNES
VAUGHNETTE BIGFORD (Trinidad and Tobago) The creole chanteuse returns to the Greens. From her website: With her unusual name, her signature look, and a voice like the rustle of a velvet skirt, Vaughnette Bigford is hard to forget. This Trini performer is on a mission to remind us that local music does not begin and end with calypso and soca. “I want to delve into the music of Trinidad and Tobago, and bring to life the kind of music people aren’t hearing now. I want to bring back music from people like Kalyan, Carol Addison and Mavis John. That’s our music, too!” And the fans have been responding. Her full-length concerts, Shades of Vaughnette, have been held before appreciative crowds for the past four years, and her new CD, Born to Shine, is poised to skyrocket her among the stars. She has nothing but love for those who love her. “My fans are amazing; they like what I do, so they follow me all over the place. I’ve had such good responses from them!” This dynamic and ambitious lady from La Brea is never content to bask in the glow of her successes; she constantly seeks to upgrade her skills and expand JAZZ ARTISTS ON THE GREENS™ 2017 SOUVENIR PROGRAMME
her repertoire, studying with some of the greatest mentors in pop and jazz. These days, Vaughnette is eagerly looking for opportunities to take her performances abroad, so she can share our music with the world. Recognising her talent as a gift from God, she is determined to fulfil the destiny He has ordained for her, by constantly fine-tuning her craft, and embracing every opportunity to share that liquid, golden voice with others.
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Thinking Outside The Box.. Wedding In A Recession When it comes to weddings in Trinidad & Tobago, we tend to be very traditional and very narrow minded. Thinking outside the box while embracing the traditional cultural habits of our twin nation will go a long way to reducing the bottom line when hosting a Trini wedding in a recession. The immediate ideas of budget reductions will be just to go smaller, reduce your guest list, back yard venue, use a second hand dress or even a rental..but what about changing the concept all together of what we know as a wedding reception.
When we think weddings we think, speeches, dinner followed by a bruck out session.. right? Here are some novel ways of reducing your bottom line and embracing a True Trini Lime.. D Excursion Vibe..lets face it at least 95% of our population would have attended an excursion at sometime during their lives…but you are probably thinking wait that sounding tacky..well I always tell folks that tacky is a matter of perception. Remember the goal here is to reduce and think outside the box… It’s a Picnic..making use of a public space speaks to a number of huge savings. Picnic style weddings throws formality out the door and can also be expanded into a pot luck with guest contributing to the meal and drinks Dutch style. Let go clubbing..think about taking over your favourite night club as your wedding reception..in doing so you are saving yourself on many levels, venue, Dj, Lighting, Security . All that will be required is some pre planning with the club management to reserve a space for your party and arrange pre payment for admission. The same can be done with a boat ride but will require arrangements made to feed your guest when they disembark the boat. Who say cooler fete..this is a concept which has long been in practice as anyone who has been to a traditional East Indian wedding can attest. Bring what yuh drinking…we provide the food. Now I know these ideas are not for everyone, but when it comes to thinking outside the box this is as good as it gets. As I said in the beginning we have to change the concept and image of what a wedding reception is in order to become comfortable with breaking away from the norm. If however you are a traditionalist here are some cost cutting measures you can take: Non traditional venues like schools, community centres and residences, DIY invitations, local sweets as tokens, pre made playlist for dinner set and pre made mixes for dance session, DIY décor, Local simplified menu, serve alcohol only after dinner..these will go a long way in saving. BUT BE WARNED Do it yourself isn’t as easy as it sounds, so you will need to have lots of help.
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VICTOR PROVOST (St John, US Virgin Islands) From his website: “Victor Provost is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading voices on the unique, and often misunderstood, steel pan (or steel drum). Through appearances at concert halls, clubs, and stages throughout the world, he has been meticulously developing a reputation as a ‘dazzling’ soloist, crafting an impressive improvisational voice and style. With a strong foundation in Bebop, a contemporary sensibility, and deep roots in Caribbean music, he seamlessly melds and mixes genres. The Washington D.C. City Paper’s ‘Jazz Percussionist of the Year’ six years running, his new recording Bright Eyes debuted at #5 on the iTunes Top 40 Jazz Charts and has been met with praise from The Washington Post, Downbeat Magazine, and Hot House Magazine, as well as artists and presenters.” Hailing from St John, US Virgin Islands, Victor Provost is taking the sound of the steelpan to new places via recordings and performances. Prior to his current release, Bright Eyes, Victor released Her Favorite Shade of Yellow which displayed his bebop influences handily, and showcased a rising talent in pan jazz circles.
When he is not touring and recording with jazz legends like Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela, Victor is teaching at George Mason University in Virginia. He and his fellow Virgin Islander musicians in the US jazz circuit have formed a band Dion Parson & 21st Century Band that explores their island roots. Never far from home, the current album finds him in familiar territory where the islands’ influences come to the forefront. Pan jazz is here, and Victor Provost is a fine exemplar of the genre.
PHOTO: VICTOR PROVOST / williAM ROBLEJO
WILLIAM ROBLEJO’S TRÍO (Cuba) William Roblejo is an excellent violin player who has paved a way as a professional artist in several popular music bands in his native Cuba. As violin player, he has developed a strong career as part of important bands that play Cuban pop, trova, son and fusion music, including the David Torrens band. From the technical perspective, he is well-known for his brilliant executions of his instrument; which is why he is a member of the Amadeo Roldán string quartet of the Cuban National Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as one of the rising stars in the Cuba Interactivo project. It is important to mention that he teaches violin in the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory of music in Havana while concurrently heading the String Cathedra of the mentioned institution. William is has concluded his formal studies in Violin at the High Institute of Arts in Cuba (ISA). In Cuba, William Roblejo has shared the stage with several internationally recognized musicians, and has performed at various festivals and venues in Europe and Latin America. He has appeared on a number of CDs JAZZ ARTISTS ON THE GREENS™ 2017 SOUVENIR PROGRAMME
including the international best seller, “Buena vista Social Club”. More than a violinist, William Roblejo is a one-man-show. Having given his violin a unique personality, he performs with a distinctive zeal that has earned him a place among the top in Cuba’s music scene. In 2013, William released his debut album Dreaming. This is the second time William Roblejo’s Trío is appearing at Jazz Artists on the Greens™.
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ÉLAN PARLĒ (Trinidad and Tobago) From the website: “Élan Parlē is a Trinidadbased music ensemble that blends Caribbean rhythms with global music influences to create Caribbean/World Fusion. Using freewheeling improvisations over carefully crafted compositions, élan parlē brings a Contemporary Jazz perspective to the musical and cultural traditions of Trinidad and Tobago. “The vision for the group is reflected in the band’s name élan parlē, artistically interpreted to mean ‘Spirited Conversations.’ These Spirited Conversations are often spoken in a Caribbean dialect, discussing World issues, but from a Caribbean perspective.” Critically, élan parlē and by extension, its band leader Michael “Ming” Low Chew Tung have been producing original music and highly sophisticated covers of the local song book since 2000. Jazz in the Islands magazine refers to Ming as “the architect of jazz in the 21st century in Trinidad and Tobago.” Prolific output, highly polished standards in composition and production, and an ear to new trends in music allow this band to continue to carry the flag of innovation in calypso jazz into its
second decade of existence. With eight full length CD albums under its belt, the last one being the excellent I Am Élan Parlē, there is not stopping for the band. The is a full circle return since élan parlē were among the initial performers at the first Jazz Artists on the Greens™. Welcome back home. Rodney Alexander (bass), Tony Paul (saxophones) Richard Joseph (drums) and Michael Low Chew Tung (keyboards).
PHOTO: ÉLAN PARLĒ / ANTHONY HARRIS
JAMES JESSEY JOSEPH (Haiti) work, his music will continue to touch the entire James Jessey Joseph from Haiti is a guitarist, world. composer, arranger and song writer. Born in a A remarkable aspect of James’ life is that he is a musical family, he had a passion for music from survivor of the cataclysm that shook Haiti in 2010. an early age. At eleven years old, he started Buried alive, he prepared to meet his maker. The learning to play the guitar. Within three months, universe and God had different plans for him. He he began to play in churches and bands. In 2005, He won first place in a music competition organized survived and escaped. We are grateful that the world beyond Haiti has an opportunity to hear James. by the Ministry of Health. In 2011, He recorded his Gospel album entitled Mwen Beni Non W Zouk, konpa, calypso, Caribbean jazz are all the many sounds that have influenced him and his band, and Jezi. of course he is prepared to share the Caribbean with you. In 2016, James completed his BFA in Performing Arts with specialization in Music (Guitar) at the Academy for the Performing Arts of The University of Trinidad and Tobago. At UTT, he and some of his colleagues formed a musical performance group The A+ Band of which he is the Music Director today. The band’s purpose is to share positivity through a fusion of Caribbean music. He is presently enrolled in the Certificate in Music Technology Program at the same University. James has the desire to go as far as possible in his musical career. He believes that by putting God first and putting in hard JAZZ ARTISTS ON THE GREENS™ 2017 SOUVENIR PROGRAMME
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STAY CONNECTED TO JAOTG™ Relive our memories of Jazz Artists on the Greens™ throughout the years online.
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THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNERS BROUGHT TO YOU BY
OFFICIAL TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS
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Official Water of Jazz Artists on the Greens™
JAOTG™ GENEROUSLY SUPPORTED BY IN-KIND SPONSORS • • • • • • • •
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Each year, PRODUCTION ONE LTD presents a world class musical experience at Jazz Artists on the Greens™. We could not pull off such an amazing event without the dedication and hard work of our volunteers. If you would like to volunteer for the next Jazz Artists on the Greens™ in 2018, email email@example.com
PRODUCTION ONE LTD offers your organization an opportunity to partner with us in our presentation of the country’s premier, open-air Caribbean Jazz concert and to benefit from the synergies to be obtained through an alignment with us. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kanhai Raghubir Jewelers; House of Chan; Off-the-Wall Music Centre; Travel Plus Travel Agency; Stecher’s; WrapWorks; Salad Café The Medical Dispensary; Seon’s Bar; Crosby’s Music Centre; K’s Family of Jewellery Cleve’s Record Store
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JAZZ ARTISTS ON THE GREENS™ 2017 SOUVENIR PROGRAMME
PHOTO: MARIA NUNES
This creole chanteuse brings the vintage T&T songbook into the 21st century
In the world of pop music, if one hasn’t made it by the time one is thirty, the odds of a major career are slim to none. Give or take the few who have challenged the status quo, the novelty of a just burgeoning career making an impact past the wonder years maintains the belief that talent has to grow at its own pace in its own space. Vaughnette Bigford, Trinidadian creole songbird, has only now launched her first album, aptly titled Born To Shine, and in the process, defied the norm by making a statement that resounds throughout the Caribbean. Reflecting an aura that channels the spirits of Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba equally, Vaughnette celebrates the unending spirit and majesty of the Caribbean song. Journalist Jabari Fraser reflects on her newly minted oeuvre.
Impact and influence are measures of the greatness of civilisation, art, and music. Born to Shine is the first artistic statement of a mature, rootsy, yet sophisticated Vaughnette Bigford. It oozes soul, soul of Calypso, soul. The arrangements are then dipped into jazz chords and rhythms, what comes out is authentic Caribbean Blues; absorbent of all its influences. It has the potential to impact and inspire others to record and further establish the standards of Caribbean Blues. Artistically, she has grown tremendously since her first year of semi-professional jazz singing, even since her 2009 Jazz Artists on the Greens debut. Her sound has evolved significantly. “I really didn’t feel like I had something
to say then. Your product must say something. I think the timing is right for it.” The album by Vaughnette Bigford fills one of the gaping chasms in Trinidad and Tobago’s music industry today. There isn’t any significant menu of kaiso and retro pop rethought and remixed. She is a calypsonian, a folk performer, a jazz interpreter all in one. Today’s Calypsonians don’t produce enough in a year to release an album. Many don’t have the stage personality that she does, neither do they have the vocal abilities to carry a concert or record an album. Vaughnette Bigford does. Eleven selections, eleven different sounds. The band is skilled and provides all the support that the songstress needs to strip and dress up some of the classics
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Bigford’s favourite. “Who God Bless” - the sometimesraspy, sometimes-smooth guitar-playing of Theron Shaw on “Who God Bless” comes forward into prominence and retreats, in an interesting dialogue with Bigford’s voice. In an engaging contrast, her voice and delivery are laid back, yet they provide the soul and power on a lyrically ominous Soca Spiritual by Garfield Blackman. This, all while Shaw drives the guitar-vox combination so skilfully that the horns, synths, slow and thick rhythm arrangement, and fat vocals of the original Lord Shorty piece are not missed. “Soul on Fire” - the arrangement and execution make it sound so romantic and sexy that it’s hard to re-imagine the song in KMC’s rough soca drawl, “tie tongue” et al. Who would have thought that the singer/song-writer who dumped Soca was an R&B, smooth jazz writer? Anthony Woodroffe’s saxophone touches on the track while the band grooves behind him are breathy, yet punchy, and sensual enough to rival the famous saxophone riff of George Michael’s of Sparrow, Merchant, Winsford Devine, the songs with great familiarity. It is easy “Careless Whisper”. to hear their mutual respect, individual Shadow, Lord Shorty, and KMC. The album is as much a testament skill and collective chemistry. The arrangements by Michael Low to Bigford’s vocal abilities, charisma “We’ve been playing stuff over the Chew Tung, Theron Shaw and Rodney and soul, as it is to Low Chew Tung’s years. So we were comfortable with the Alexander, and Bigford’s diction bring mobilisation, production, band-leading material.” out the lyrical beauty of the composers. skills, and marketing force. He has What the tracks lack in recording The selections and arrangements are been the producer behind so many of tribute to the vast songbook of uniquely clarity and mix, they make up for in the established calypso/jazz recordings Trinbagonian kaiso ballads, ponderings musicianship, and the intensity of the over the last 10+ years. If it weren’t for jams. on life and love, youth, spirituality, him, there’d exist no of arrangements, “Be Careful” - a high-energy, romance, you name it. performances beyond the bars and slammin’ Soca cover with an irresistible festival performances, and fleeting All of the songs are T&T-written pieces, and they’re not the typical list of groove. The funky guitar, the bouncing memories of Trini “jazz fans”. go-to songs to cover. What made her go bass, the smooth Rhodes tones on the Many people have hailed Machel keys, the saxophone lurking behind, total local? Montano as T&T’s most skilled music shadowing some melody lines, the oohs entrepreneur. Only those plugged into “I’ve been kind of experimenting with and aahs of the background vocals; the local music and I’ve been kind of the genre know about Ming’s marketing everything is just right. In sentiment, it’s and distribution tactics. Free delivery of finding myself, and my space in the reflection of that. It is a reflection of me faithful to Merchant and Leston Paul’s CDs and album merchandise, teasers on groove, then it breaks into a swing with now.” music download sites, effective listener the ladies warning, “what you know ’bout engagement on Facebook, pictures with From the opening prayer, “And the Lord Said,” to the last note of the Aretha- me?” before the opening riff plays one fans holding the CD, you name it, they flavoured groovy title track, “Born to final time. Forget the Soca Monarch and did it. its silly rules. This is Groovy Soca. This Shine”, Bigford puts her distinctive “I live on Facebook. Of course I’m is the best track on the album. It’s also sound to the music. The musicians play always on Facebook, it works wonders 18 Jazz in the Islands
VAUGHNETTE BIGFORD Born To Shine (Parlemusik, 2017)
PHOTO: MARIA NUNES
“Born to Shine is the first album from Trinbagonian vocalist, Vaughnette Bigford. Recorded live in studio, the music reflects the history of the beautiful melodies of yesteryear coming out of Trinidad and Tobago. The album includes songs by The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Shorty, Winsford Devine, Merchant, Carol Addison, Mac and Katie Kissoon, The Mighty Shadow, Ken Marlon Charles, Ella Andall, Oliver Chapman and Arthur Marcial. It’s a celebration of all that is good in Trinbago music...This album is a collector’s dream.” —CD Baby Available at CD Baby
for me,” Bigford says. T-shirts printed originally for band members on the sold out, two-night album launch event became big requests from those who have followed her singing career. She praises her musicians – Low Chew Tung (Ming) on keys, Shaw on guitar, Khalen Alexander on drums, Rodney Alexander on bass, Woodroffe on sax and background vocalists Afiya Athill and Sade Sealey. “I have the utmost respect for them individually as musicians. The contributions that they have made, I have so much admiration for Ming and Terry. It is not easy to produce music to stay encouraged and keep putting out music year after year, but they still do it.” The veterans aren’t the only ones whose skill she recognises. “Anthony, young, bright plenty ideas. Rodney same thing. Khalen, same thing, out of UTT.” The artwork and photography make for a visually attractive product. The track titles come up automatically in iTunes, and it shows that they’ve done their electronic distribution work, so that the album doesn’t die after the 1000 copies are gone (a fate of too many T&T recordings). Born to Shine is an album for the development of a genre, and one for your collection. — © 2017, Jabari Fraser Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. April 2017 19
SIDE BY SIDE
Smooth jazz piano out of Toronto via the Spice Island
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EDDIE BULLEN Make It Real (CocoVin Records, 2000) “13 songs with a blend of smooth jazz and Latin calypso jazz.” —CDBaby
Available at iTunes.com
EDDIE BULLEN Desert Rain (Thunder Dome Sounds, 2004) “Over a dozen songs featuring Smooth Jazz with scat vocals and CHILL grooves.” —CDBaby
Available at iTunes.com
PHOTO: EDDIE BULLEN
Eddie Bullen is in every way, a stand out amongst his generation of multitalented artists. Eddie’s lengthy career has yielded an abundance of awards and recognition for his outstanding talents. From his first album, ‘Nocturnal Affair’ to his most recent ‘Spice Island’, Eddie gives his audience a taste of contemporary jazz, flavoured with Caribbean rhythms. Since his move to Toronto in 1980 from Grenada, Eddie has worked with Caribbean, Canadian and American artists like Melba Moore, Anslem Douglas, Byron Lee, Maestro, David Rudder, Liberty Silver, Deborah Cox and Dee Dee Bridgewater. He is also a composer and arranger for TV, Radio and Films. His work has been heard on City TV, YTV, Love & Hip Hop (American Television Series) and Wine TV Australia. To date Eddie Bullen has produced over 150 albums and is currently working on several new ventures through his record company Thunder Dome Sounds and publishing company QDB music. Eddie is always on the lookout for cutting edge new innovative artists. Eddie’s two sons Quincy and TreMichael are both following in their
father’s footsteps. Quincy, the elder son has recorded three CDs under the Thunder Dome Sounds label: On Q, Quintessential Boys, Under Age (which was featured in high rotation on XM satellite radio) and Quantumplations. Through his production company Thunder Dome Sounds, Eddie is fulfilling his passion for nurturing youth talent through a high school co-op program he launched in 1986. Challenges like this keep Eddie Bullen growing artistically and personally. Eddie Bullen, the recognized Smooth Jazz Ambassador in Canada, launch his latest CD release in 2015 after having produced over fifty Canadian Smooth Jazz titles for other artists. On this fourth solo release, Eddie takes us on a very personal journey to the Caribbean – specifically his homeland of Grenada. It’s been more than thirty years since he left Grenada, and he has successfully created a name for himself in jazz circles internationally. His latest album, Spice Island is a reflection of Bullen’s life as a teenager growing up on Grenada. The album was written in a style that emerged in the mid-70s as contemporary jazz which he embraced as a youth and subsequently shaped the trajectory of his life. One reviewer noted that “The album delivers exactly what you would expect from an album entitled Spice Island, well-seasoned relaxation. Eddie’s tantalizing keys are at the centre of this collection of songs which seamlessly delivers a combination of funky grooves and rhythmic melodies, packaged in his trademark cool.” The version of the Caribbean as a place to “flee seriousness” is often given support by the idea of smooth jazz not being the “thinking man’s” jazz. Eddie Bullen as a thinking man in a city that inspires innovation has played his hand well to serve up music and satisfaction. All from the heart of the spice island.
SIDE BY SIDE
PHOTO: RANDAL CORSEN
Tumba jazz piano out of the Netherlands via Curaçao Over the last decade, Randal Corsen who currently lives in The Netherlands, has proven his special skills in the jazz and Latin music scene in both The Netherlands and Curaçao. He received high praise for his work as a pianist, composer, arranger and co-producer for the critically acclaimed albums of Dutch vocalist Izaline Calister and for his performance in the successful Latin-jazz Quintet Bye-Ya! Corsen’s work is outstanding for the original way he blends jazz with Latin American music. Proud of his Antillean roots, he has always consciously incorporated elements from Antillean music and tumba rhythms in his compositions. Derived from the word ‘‘tambu”, or Spanish for drum, Tumba is to Curaçao what merengue is to the Dominican Republic, calypso is to Trinidad and reggae is to Jamaica. His compositions and arrangements contain modern and progressive harmonies and melodies; his expressive solo’s are characterized by great virtuosity, rhythmic perfection and extraordinary dynamics. Artists who inspired him: Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans, and Latin-jazz pianists such as Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Eddie Palmieri. Scott Yanow reviewing his latest album Sybiosis wrote the following: Randal Corsen’s Symbiosis features the inventive pianist performing eight colorful originals with his quartet. Randal Corsen, who is based in the Netherlands, is an excellent postbop pianist, arranger and composer. One can hear a subtle “Latin tinge” in his music and he hints at such innovators as Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock while playing original music in his own voice. He took five years off between records as a leader to work on writing projects including his first opera Katibu di Shon. By the time that he recorded Symbiosis,
RANDAL CORSEN Evolushon (A-Records, 2007) “In 2004, [Corsen] was honoured with the EDISON Jazz Award, the most prestigious music award in the Netherlands, for his album ‘Evolushon’. —Avila Hotel
Corsen was eager to return to being a jazz pianist again. While his sidemen on various projects in the past have included David Sanchez, Paquito D’Rivera and Roy Hargrove, on Symbiosis, Corsen utilizes three young Dutch musicians: bassist Glenn Gaddum Jr, drummer Mark Schilders and percussionist Vernon Chatlein. They give him the type of stimulating support that he deserves. He allowed his music, which is unquestionably jazz, to be open to both his Antillean heritage and the other styles of music that he has enjoyed throughout the years. His eight originals are complex yet sometimes catchy, often rhythmic and usually accessible. The performances are sometimes episodic, developing as they evolve, and cover a wide variety of moods. Symbiosis is full of thought-provoking music that is well worth several listens. Corsen himself says: “This recording not only represents the Symbiosis between my playing and that of my fellow musicians, it also reflects my own musical symbiosis, which is a result of my musical journey till now. I’m very proud of this work, and I hope you like it!”
Available at iTunes.com
RANDAL CORSEN Symbiosis (Challenge Records, 2013) “The performances are sometimes episodic, developing as they evolve, and cover a wide variety of moods. Symbiosis is full of thought-provoking music that is well worth several listens.” —Scott Yanow
Available at iTunes.com
Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. April 2017 21
Etienne Charles’ Carnival Oratorio A grand gesture in composition, an opus writ large.
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translate the emotions, the history and the psychology of the people and their dreams and actions as players on this grand stage called Carnival.
of music creation in the Caribbean. The method of composing new music over original music from a source was explored by Paul Simon on his classic Graceland album; music based on a “rhythmic premise.” Like Simon, Charles went back to the United States to record with some of the most gifted jazz musicians including Grammy winners Ben Williams on bass and David Sánchez on tenor saxophone. The work on Carnival continues: “Fourteen movements of the suite have been recorded, eight more to write…only gonna be able to play eleven in Trinidad for the sake of time.” Juxtaposition of native Carnival culture with the jazz response is intriguing. Charles notes that he “wanted to be cerebral, but rooted in the folk The catalyst for composition for element while being as vivid as possible Carnival: The Sound of a People was with the harmonic colours.” Among different from his recent San Jose Suite. the new improvisations garnered The broad quest was condensed to from the sound of the drum is the focus on the specific. Observations four-part “Black Echo”. Charles says of the wider Americas, its people and it represents “the European attempt communities gave way to the capture of to suppress our communication and and the reaction to the sound and vision Black musical expression.” It is the of a people, in real time, unravelling the African-Caribbean response that also “multiplicity of cross-cultural influences” illustrates the evolution, in Trinidad, of that drive this nation and this region the drum sound. The first movement to make a mas’ and to make a music. is the “Banning of the Drum” with the Resistance and persistence, in this case, is resultant initial tumult mirrored in hard specific to that impulse of ours to mimic bop musicality. The second movement and to parody imposed order, and to is on the “Tamboo Bamboo”, which absorb, re-enact and create the theatre was the local response to banning the that honours the indestructible courage drums. The third movement celebrates of ancestors. the “Iron Bands”, the precursor to the Charles: “I have hours and hours final movement, the “Steelbands”, the of field recordings that I had to sift “audacity of the creole imagination,” through. I wanted the real shit; to as described by researcher Dr. Kim see it and to fuse the sounds with the Johnson. sights and the history to make music.” There are many more musical stories These hours of field recordings, this like this that illustrate and signify raw ritual music serves as a bed for the that the creole imagination was more new improvisations that Charles would than audacious, but was determined layer. This melodic addition is not to never to be suppressed or forgotten. be construed as cultural appropriation, There have been dozens of books and but part of our hybridisation process scholarly articles as well as hundreds of
PHOTO: MARIA NUNES
In the heat and heart of the Carnival fête season when “we doh business”, Etienne Charles will allow us to imagine what creole intelligence sounds and looks like. On Sunday January 29, 2017 he will debut and preview at the Queen’s Hall selections of his newest extended piece—a planned 3-CD length oratorio— called Carnival: The Sound of a People that locates the musical response of Afro-Caribbean people within this island space to the circumstances of slavery, colonialism and freedom. Adoption, adaptation and incorporation of the cultural traditions rendered with an ear to the broader musical tradition of the Americas, jazz, has allowed Charles to produce music that recognises local audiences’ penchant to move to rhythm, and a global audiences’ willingness to discover and be awed by the brilliance of New World African music. Errol Hill, in his book The Trinidad Carnival: Mandate for a National Theatre, wrote that “Carnival is inconceivable without music.” Music is indeed a central pillar of the Trinidad Carnival. Charles, with the award of a 2015 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, was allowed to research and explore the music of the Carnivalesque processions, the canboulay and j’ouvert, the drum dances, the sacred and secular music with the call-and-response led by the chantwell, and other African cultural survivals in the Caribbean from preEmancipation to present. He embedded himself in the communities that retain the traditions of the blue devil, the jab jab, the black Indian, and in the gayelle of the stickfighter to capture the rhythm and song of the kalenda and the caliso In modern times, Trinidad Carnival has inspired plays, original dance and prose from our best playwrights, choreographers and authors. It has also created and inspired music that seeks to
Music writer, Nigel A. Campbell wrote a prologue to the impending debut of excerpts from the new jazz oratorio, Carnival: The Sound of a People by celebrated Trinidadian trumpeter, Etienne Charles. That essay is reproduced here. First published in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian newspaper on January 22, 2017. Reproduced with permission.
post-graduate theses and a few journals written about Trinidad Carnival, its history and the psychology, the design of the mas’ and its relevance, its music. In the music heard as a preview to the upcoming live performance, Charles has encapsulated a meaning of what and why we continue to do this thing called Carnival that is more entertaining and enlightening than dry words in a thesis can capture. Music has that power to educate if we are willing to allow ourselves to listen and absorb the elements of rhythm and subliminal messages beyond sound. Charles says, “it tells the story and we have plenty stories to tell, everything we didn’t learn in school that we should have.” This is a grand subject, an opus writ large. Carnival: The Sound of a People adds
to that Carnival story collection as an antidote to the trivia that sustains an industry. It addresses what is becoming a problem with the society at large. The dumbing down of art to fit a carnival mentality that suggests that how we wine is more important than what we are wining to. The balance between art and artefact, between materiality and memorabilia is recognised and Etienne Charles responds with a daring that fits a new vision for native music. A parallel anecdote: VS Naipaul wrote a large book on the subject of Trinidad, The Loss of El Dorado, which when published was criticised by the literary editor of a very important paper in London who told him that he “only should have written an essay because it wasn’t a big enough subject.” Naipaul
wisely noted that his critic was “a foolish man.” West Indian men and women of art and scholarship—Andrew Carr and Andrew Pearse, Errol Hill, JD Elder, Peter Minshall—also deem fit the subject of Carnival to be more than an “essay.” Our Carnival must be writ large, not as a snippet. In that important way, Etienne Charles, the chantuelle with a horn, with the forthcoming concert and album in the future effectively covers Trinidad Carnival, its traditions, the diaspora response and the people who make Carnival our gift to the world. — © 2017, Nigel A. Campbell For more reviews and analysis visit, blog.iradio.tt
Etienne Charles improvising with The Laventille Rhythm Section
Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. April 2017 23
Bebop pannist from the US Virgin Islands returns anew “Serious jazz on the steel pan — jazz imbued with the historical vocabulary of swing, bebop and the blues, and not, as Provost puts it, simply “improvised music” — may not be crazy. But it is admittedly unusual. There are a handful of older jazz steel pan improvisers: Othello Molineaux, who played with bassist Jaco Pastorius; Rudy Smith, now 73; and the American Andy Narell, but almost no one on the instrument has tried to make it the basis of a career.” —T.R. Goldman. Washington Post. 6 January, 2017. “In Victor Provost’s hands, the steel pan becomes a mesmerizing ride.”
24 Jazz in the Islands
“This album comes as a breath of fresh air. Bringing to you music that is not expected from the Steel Pan, with pulsating grooves fused jazz licks, you will want to listen to it over and over.” —CDBaby
potential this island boy can have to make an impact beyond our shores. Let’s not be coy and acknowledge that the Trinidadian pannists have not made daring leaps commercially in the global music marketplace. Othello Molineaux Rudy Smith, Annise Hadeed, Robert Greenidge, Garvin Blake in the diaspora and Boogsie, Ray Holman, Jason Baptiste, Earl Rodney collectively have had less impact out there than one Andy Narell. Victor’s commercial beginnings as a leader occurred in 2011 with the release of the album Her Favorite Shade of Yellow. One blogger in 2012 wrote as part of an expanded piece focusing on the Virgin Island jazz the following: “Victor’s website posits that, ‘[he] is one of a handful of pan players in the world who have incorporated a Bebop foundation into his playing, and arguably, the only one who has expounded on that vocabulary with a modern sensibility and style.’ We may beg to differ on the hyperbole, and I am sure Annise Hadeed and Rudy Smith may have something to say about that. I can attest that he does understand the bebop fundamentals and the sound of the pan in the milieu of a swinging bebop band is refreshing in the
Available at CD Baby
VICTOR PROVOST Bright Eyes (Paquito/Sunnyside Records, 2017) “Bebop swagger gives way to a progressive jazz world fusion while still maintaining a deft touch that allows the tenor pan to ring true..” —Caribbean Beat
Available at Sunnyside Records
PHOTO: VICTOR PROVOST
And so begins a piece in the Washington Post highlighting Victor Provost and positioning this musician whose next label release was imminent. The native of St John in the US Virgin Islands was continuing on his journey to establish the sound of the steelpan within his context of music where the sound is separate from the music. He explains further in the Post article: “I completely separate the pan sound, because I want just the content of what I play to stand out...For me, the sound is just another color.” This is an interesting take on the music of Provost. He has studied the masters, Molineaux and Smith, as well as put in the hours of practice to deliver some of the most satisfying modern jazz with a sound that resonates in these islands. From his biography, we read that, “Provost first heard the steel pan nearly by accident. Having heard an attractive sound emanating from the small St. John School of the Arts, he went to investigate only to find a large group of young people (including classmates) making a big, beautiful sound on steel pans. He was attracted immediately, especially to the communal aspect of music making with the pan, and joined their ranks.” The “sound of surprise” is another definition for jazz, and we revel in the
VICTOR PROVOST Her Favorite Shade of Yellow (Self Released, 2011)
PHOTO: AKINOLA SENNON
current landscape of post-bop, pseudojazz dominance. “Her Favorite Shade of Yellow wanders through the field of jazz standards, placing the steelpan in the centre of a conversation heretofore reserved for other instruments of the jazz big band. Once a jazz man gets his hands on a traditional instrument, it is forever changed; the trumpet, saxophone, and piano will never be narrowly assessed as instruments of the western classical canon. His technique is strong, the improvisation interesting and informed, and the assuredness of the self-composed title tune, places Victor immediately into the upper echelons of the pannist’s pantheon both in the Caribbean, specifically Trinidad and Tobago, and in the US. This is a worthy purchase that highlights the evolution of the steel drum from jangly rhythm maker in post WWII Trinidad to lead instrument on a growing number of CDs produced here in the Caribbean and importantly, in the US, both as a signifier of a Caribbean ethos and as melodic charmer with range and tone to embrace varied musical styles. “This CD, however, illustrates frustratingly to me that our Trinidadian pannists are not recording music, of quality and with frequency, to make the sound of the steelpan more universal. A sad fact, for this listener is that the most prolific steelpan recording artist is an American. Victor and other US pannists like Jonathan Scales are challenging the sound of the pan in ‘non-traditional styles,’ and in so doing creating new ears which will have a critical commercial role in identifying the steelpan sound in the marketplace.” With the release of the new album Bright Eyes, and the immediate uptake by influential music media, Victor Provost is already heading in the right direction. Exploring the expanded context of improvised tropical music via mazurka, baião, calypso, and funky Afro-Cuban jazz, the album and the artist are signalling their intentions to make the world their home, and the sound of the steelpan will be a fortunate traveller on this new journey.
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Would you be able to share sales figures on these artists’ albums? If so, would you? We would not share sales data as it is each artist’s business. I will say that sales of music are very disappointing these days, and we are working very hard to change that.
Jonathan on keyboards. Mathieu and Thérèse had already known and enjoyed playing with him in other musical settings, so having him as part of Djazil was quite natural. Although each member of the group has his/her own musical life and influences apart from Djazil, the link between these five musicians remains very strong and feeds their desire to continue to play together. As their debut self-titled album shows, they thrive on creating complex rhythms, structures and melodies that showcase each of them individually but also collectively as one of today’s most captivating ensembles. Caraïb To Jazz symbolizes an audacious encounter. Indeed, four young musicians originating from the West Indies—Lalsingué is from Mauritius— Akinola Sennon join forces to share their talent and their real desire to assert themselves in the Caribbean and international musical Finally, would you comment on the business model for Ropeadope Records landscape. This group has already positioned itself as a direct heir of the in the evolving music business in the last decade? Would you be signing any great musicians of the Caribbean, who by their qualities and their potential further artists playing steelpan? Ropeadope is a new model - a distributed have attracted attention in the islands. With 2 albums completed, the members collaborative community of independent collaborate with Narell, with Calypso artists, all connected through the hubs that we help to strengthen. The goal is self Rose, and return to Trinidad for Panorama duties. determination for artists, both creatively The French connection is strong and and business wise. We are working to the possibilities for a new wave of music build a model that survives and thrives for the steelpan that showcases Caribbean within the larger music business. We believe that artists will make great music improvisations are hopeful. if they have this network and model to support them. While we are not specifically looking for steelpan players, we are of course quite interested in pan for two reasons - first that it is cultivated within Trinidad in a way that no other instrument is - from where I sit it is much more than an instrument, it is the collective interest of many. Second, because it represents unique creative expression in the postcolonial age, a very important human expression that nurtures people in a quite challenging and unfair world. Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. April 2017 25
PAN JAZZ PICNIC
The idea of placing the steelpan at the front of a “conventional” rhythm section of a jazz band was forthright and innovative. It is suggested that Scofield Pilgrim at the QRC Jazz Club in the 1960s was heralding such an innovation as he was codifying calypso jazz with young students. It is known that Rudy Smith led jazz bands in Europe with his pans before he recorded Otinku in 1972. By the time Earl Rodney made Friends & Countrymen in 1974, pannists were writing with the pan as lead, and the idea of improvisation made sense as opposed to the common steelband ensemble. 26 Jazz in the Islands
The burden of transmitting this idea from novelty at tropical hotel poolside to performance in a metropolitan arena was stymied further by under-funded business plans, and the narrow vision by promoters. Enter the Americans. Enter the French. Enter the Japanese. In the fifty years since that pan jazz movement began, the decline in the Caribbean recorded scene was not countered by increases in live performances or marketing to a new audience. What was left were a few pioneers, Othello Molineaux jumps to mind along with Annise Hadeed, not having the
recording industry machinery behind them for support to lead the way beyond the boundary. Andy Narell’s move to France saw the rise of not only a couple pan jazz bands, but the widening of the rhythmic “colours” that a steelpan can play. The world is blessed with idea of a tuned oil-drum creating complex harmonies and melodies to support an improvised moment of musical creation. In this era of streaming, the active listening of pan jazz can remind us of where we have already gone, and where we have to be for the next innovation.
CHRIS WABICH Caribbean Standard (Chris Wabich, 2015)
Phil Hawkins H2O (Ramajay Records, 2005)
ANDY AKIHO No One To Know One (Innova Recordings, 2011)
“The album, Caribbean Standard, is considered by many to be a landmark jazz album, primarily due to how its featured artist was utilized.” —PAN Magazine
“With steel pans as the lead instrument and a lineup that also includes drums and percussion, there is little doubt that H2O will have an emphasis on groove. ” —AllAboutJazz
“[H]is approach hangs between playing with strong accents, melody, and power in a jazz sensibility, with baroque associations in melody and arrangements.” —Psychemusic
Available at CDBaby.com
Available at iTunes.com
Available at CDBaby.com
LIAM TEAGUE & ROBERT CHAPPELL Open Window (Chappell &Teague, 2010)
JONATHAN SCALES Plot/scheme (Jonathan Scales, 2008)
ANDY NARELL Tatoom (Heads Up International, 2007)
“Open Window is marvellous. Teague and Chappell make an excellent duo and Liam’s virtuosity is at times breathtaking.” —Michael Colgress
“Many can talk the talk - but few can walk the walk. Pannist Jonathan Scales without a doubt is ‘walking the walk’.” —When Steel Talks
“If you have prejudices about steel bands, prepare to shed them when you hear this CD. Andy creates a wonderfully chromatic mix of rich harmonies.” —Tony Augarde
Available at iTunes.com
Available at iTunes.com
Available at iTunes.com
Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. April 2017 27
RON REID Precious Metals (MudHut Music, 2016)
ZANE RODULFO Pathways (Zane Rodulfo, 2016)
JEFF NARELL Sirocco (Jeff Narell, 2015)
ETIENNE CHARLES San Jose Suite (Culture Shock Music, 2016)
“Precious Metals is a celebration and a rediscovery of the best we can be as a land of music” —Jazz in the Islands
“This EP is a great launching pad for a stellar career.” —Caribbean Beat
“Sirocco is Jeff Narell’s fourth album as a leader, and finds him investigating the confluence between African percussion instruments and the New World invention of the steelpan.” —CDBaby
“The San Jose Suite is a joyous and truly enlightened musical narration of the story of the New World peoples told by one of today’s most accomplished griots.” —eJazzNews
Available at iTunes
Available at CD Baby
Available at CD Baby
Available at iTunes.com
GREGORY PRIVAT TRIO Family Tree (ACT Music, 2016)
ALEXIS BARÓ Sugar Rush (G-Three Records, 2016)
DOMINANT SEVENTH Homegrown (Dominant Seventh Prod., 2016)
“Privat is a fine musician with solid classical and jazz training who on this album finds the core impulse of a iconoclast to dynamically paint anew the heritage and beauty of jazz that is found in these Antilles.” —Caribbean Beat
“The transparency of the textures throughout is magnificent, inspired by Alexis Baró and his horns with sensitive exactitude, so that everything emerges lustrous, intense and vivid.” —Latin Jazz Network
“The music, recorded live in the studio, serves as a kind of instigator for moving hips and feet, and as a beacon of the native pride in what worked and what did not.” —T&T Guardian
Available at Amazon.com
Available at iTunes.com
Available at Amazon.com
28 Jazz in the Islands
JONATHAN SCALES Jonathan Scales Fourchestra (Ropeadope, 2013) “Steel pan jazz fusion artistic complexities for the modern ear.” —CDBaby
Available at iTunes.com
Read more online at jazz.tt Jazz in the Islands. April 2017 3
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