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Issue #6. Mar 2018

Welcome All In our continuing efforts to eke out a living in a landscape without borders where the traveling musician can now reside in two countries, we are at the behest of forces beyond the music. That “adjunct to tourism” as described by Derek Walcott, that creative enterprise, that music celebration is warped by our desire to please an outside audience. Caribbean jazz festivals are now awakening to the idea that home is where the heart is in their revamping of old models of engagement. The native is no longer tropical, but international. Nigel A. Campbell Editor


14 Elan Trotman is Here; Caribbean smooth moves to Electro Sax Boston-based Bajan saxophonist moves from Tropicality towards a new sound based on electronics, but his heart remains grounded in his Caribbean soul. 13 André Woodvine Two albums by this Bajan saxophonist are in for a critical reflection.

5 Jazz Artists on the Greens Souvenir Programme. 17 March 2018, Trinidad. The premier Caribbean Jazz event in Trinidad and Tobago is here once again. Read the programme in this issue.

16 Ralph MacDonald Remembered

4 Richard Bailey Caribbean jazz music in the UK, from Batti Mamzelle to Tropical Spring, is his.

2 First Look

A little of this and that; Things to do.

18 Pan Jazz Picnic 19 Reviews


CD/Download Links

2 Grégory Privat, Eddie Palmieri 3 Michael Boothman, David Boothman 4 Richard Bailey 13 André Woodvine 15 Elan Trotman 19-20 Various Artists

The Trini-American percussionist who gave the world the Magic of the islands.

Scan or click the QR codes below the album to connect to the online digital marketplace.

Jett Samm Publishing 37 Newbury Hill Ext., Glencoe, Trinidad and Tobago +1 868 366 6104

Advertising inquiries 868 366 6104, Editor and Manager Nigel A. Campbell Art Direction and Design NiCam Graphics Editorial and Advertising Assistant Amanda Carr Contributors Tony Bell, Harold Homer II. Jazz in the Islands is published periodically by Jett Samm Publishing. All material © 2018, Jett Samm Publishing, except where noted, and may not be reprinted without permission. NOT FOR RESALE. Printed in Trinidad and Tobago by Scrip-J. Available online at

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 1


A little of this and that, things to do. A new business model for island jazz fests? “There are Caribbean-jazz festivals... These involve Caribbean musicians and Caribbean music. And then there are jazz festivals in the Caribbean, which are considerably more numerous. They can be found all over the region, from Bermuda to Aruba; they do not necessarily feature any Caribbean jazz musician, and they are attended by people who fly in for the purpose.” The words above were written by B.C. Pires in 1993 in an article in Caribbean Beat magazine called “Island Jazz” that described a phenomenon then of the rapidly expanding “jazz festival” model as a magnet for bringing tourists to the islands. The idea of a music event in paradise for a seemingly targeted African-American market was pursued by effectively all the islands with varying success. Jazz festivals in the Caribbean placed its emphasis on culture and atmosphere over music. R&B and fading stars were on the menu. The bottom, however, was going to fall out on fads that were fleeting. The economic returns on investments, in the tens of millions of US$, showed that cutting the losses was better than hoping to nurture an indigenous jazz community in the islands and an audience that was willing

to pick up the slack. One by one, Jazz festivals in the Caribbean closed. Smaller economies could not sustain because people were just not interested anymore. In 2017, Curaçao and Jamaica cancelled or closed down. Tobago saw minuscule audiences. St Lucia Jazz reorganised when it noted that half its tourism budget was spent on one event with no widespread year round benefit. However, there were pockets of sustainability. French and Spanish Caribbean islands created jazz festivals that put native populations first, and involved the tourist as a participant in a local scene. Martinique, Suriname, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominica Republic and of course, Cuba, now flirting with capitalism, built festivals that sustain. The governments that plan to retain the idea of the islands as a setting for “foreign” pleasure in the music industry have missed the boat. St Lucian poet Derek Walcott chided these governments in his Nobel Prize speech in 1992 when he said, “Sadly, to sell itself, the Caribbean encourages the delights of mindlessness, of brilliant vacuity, as a place to flee... that seriousness that comes only out of a culture with four seasons.” The State as jazz festival promoter is now recognising native talent is a draw for dollars.

Dominica Jazz ‘n Creole Festival a tragic victim of Hurricane Maria Dominica’s Jazz ‘n Creole Festival is described as “a festive fusion of Jazz Music with Creole Music, Food, and Culture.” It celebrated its 8th anniversary in June 2017 with performances by Courtney Pine, Michel Henderson, Breve and Ti Orkest. On September 18, 2017, a category 5 hurricane, Maria, bore down on the island destroying or damaging

2 Jazz in the Islands

95% of the buildings on the island. That year’s World Creole Music Festival set for October had to be cancelled, and the prospects of a 2018 edition of Jazz ‘n Creole do not look promising. The small one-day festival allowed for a unique blend of native and regional musicians, and looked to be a model for small economies. Jazz in the Islands wishes Dominica Festivals best wishes in its rebuilding.

GRÉGORY PRIVAT TRIO Family Tree (ACT, 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 Available at iTunes

EDDIE PALMIERI Sabiduria / Wisdom (Ropeadope, 2017) “Bronx-born Eddie Palmieri is a legendary Latin jazz pianist, who at the age of eighty may have delivered one of the most sonically and musically endearing albums in his career.” —Caribbean Beat

Available at iTunes

FIRST LOOK Things to do! FRI APR 27 - 29

THU OCT 04 - 08

MICHAEL BOOTHMAN Break Away (Tova Music Group, 2018)


“On Breakaway, an almost painfully brief four-song EP, the guitarist eschews vocals entirely and plays to his strengths, tasteful guitar work laid over easylistening rhythms.” —T&T Newsday

Barbados Jazz Excursion, Hilton Hotel, Barbados

Tobago Jazz Experience 10th Anniversary, island wide

SUN MAY 06 - 13


Available at iTunes

DAVID BOOTHMAN Sweet Lime & Passion (Transcendental Caribbean, 2008) “Boothman’s unique sultry Caribbean style on the keyboards and compositions conjures that sweet tropical steel-drum music flavor.” —CDBaby

St Lucia Jazz Festival Soleil St Lucia Summer Festival Events, islandwide

Jazz Under The Stars Green Meadows, Santa Cruz, Trinidad jazzunderthestars2018/

Available at CDBaby

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 3

Richard Bailey

UK-based drummer stays true to Caribbean roots

RICHARD BAILEY Fire Dance (Shed Records, 1989)


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the film soundtrack “Tommy” alongside Pete Townsend, Phil Chen and Roger Daltrey. He still tours with Beck and fellow rock legend, Steve Winwood The next decade saw many recordings and tours varying in style from Rock to Reggae to Jazz to Pop and Latin including two world tours with Billy Ocean and Basia. Richard occupied the drumseat with the excellent British acid jazz/rock/ soul fusion collective Incognito for 15 years and recorded with the offshoot, Citrus Sun. His versatility has made him a first-call kitman for four decades whilst maintaining his own unique style keeps him much in demand. Missing is the fact that Bailey founded both Batti Mamzelle (1974) and The Breakfast Band (1980), the latter with steelpan virtuoso Annise Hadeed, before going on to record his own solo albums that further explored Caribbean jazz fusion in the UK space that recognised those roots in the new multi-ethnic cultural and music scene. Bailey’s presence there is the UK’s gain and our pride and opportunity to explore the diaspora.

RICHARD BAILEY Shanti Om (Shed Records, 2007) “Drummer Bailey displays his Caribbean roots on Shanti Om, a largely instrumental album featuring a considerable cast...” —Drummer Magazine

Available at iTunes


Richard Bailey’s biography captures the essence of this Caribbean jazz fusion drummer and pannist overlooking his role as jazz fusion pioneer in the UK who blended Caribbean rhythms with jazz before many commercially: Guyaneseborn Richard Bailey started his drumming career in Trinidad at the age of nine, in the early 1960s, sitting in on percussion, drums and even bass guitar with his elder brother Robert’s combo group in Trinidad and Tobago at that time, Group Solo. He also accompanied Robert, who played Hammond organ, to perform TV/Live concerts as a duo. At twelve years old Richard’s family moved to London where Richard went to school, sitting in on occasional gigs in his spare time...Richard decided to leave school at fifteen to play drums, leaving behind [a promising] athletics’ career. By the time he was sixteen he was recording and touring the UK and USA with Johnny Nash and the great Bob Marley. By eighteen he had recorded Jeff Beck’s biggest selling album, 1975’s “Blow By Blow” to critical acclaim and appeared on

Available at iTunes

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 5

6 Jazz in the Islands SOUVENIR PROGRAMME


• J9QUARTET feat. JEANINE RUIZ............................5:00 PM • ADAN HAGLEY.....................................................6:00 PM • ELAN TROTMAN & TROPICALITY...........................7:15 PM • TONY PAUL & THE JAOTG ALL STARS present JAM ON THE GROOVE: A Tribute to RALPH MacDONALD........................................................8:45 PM *subject to change

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 7

WELCOME FROM PRODUCTION ONE The annual Jazz Artists on the Greens™ is set to kick off its sixteenth year of music performances on March 17 at the WASA Grounds in Farm Rd., St. Joseph, or as the organiser Production One Ltd calls it, “The Greens at Farm Road.” The name says it all, as the focus is on those artists who continue to play our version of jazz for an audience that is growing in numbers while playing to our need to recognise that a name or definition can make the experience that much better. “Come for the lime...Discover the music!” rings true as a calling card for this annual event that is all about the music, while you, the audience, have fun in a relaxed atmosphere of picnic baskets and coolers with food and drink, blankets and chairs on the grass, and friends to lime with, to have fun with, and to enjoy the music with. The future of jazz composition and performance in the Caribbean is happening now. Musicians from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados make up the cast that will perform at this year’s event, and represent a mix of young and old, global experience and burgeoning career beginnings. The theme of this year’s event is recognizing the past as we look ahead. Jazz Artists on the Greens™ 2018: The 16th Edition celebrates the future of Caribbean jazz with the Greens’ debut of two young upcoming musicians: pianist Adan Hagley and the J9Quartet featuring Jeanine Ruiz, revels in the present with the première performance at the festival of Tropical Smooth Jazz star Elan Trotman of Barbados with his band Tropicality, while it looks back at the career of “our own” Caribbean Jazz pioneer, the late Ralph MacDonald with an all star celebration of his musical legacy, “JAM ON THE GROOVE: A Tribute to Ralph MacDonald” starring Tony Paul & the JAOTG All Stars. When one says “jazz” in Trinidad and Tobago, one

is referring to more than the music. The experience associated with listening to this music becomes as important, and Production One Ltd. has for the past fifteen years been providing the optimum experience for listening to the music that showcases the best in Caribbean musicianship. The organisers have stressed the importance of creating the perfect listening ambiance to enjoy this music. The insistence for patrons to walk with the aforementioned “picnic baskets and coolers with food and drink, blankets and chairs,” has created the ideal relaxed environment for enjoying the talent that will be available. Jazz is demystified for everyone to enjoy. The Greens will also include merchandise tents featuring music, food and drink, artisan crafts and apparel for a truly exotic festival atmosphere. Jazz Artists on the Greens™is happy to continue to be a platform for young musicians marking their territory here with their sights on the world. In this post-carnival season where at least five outdoor events in Trinidad and Tobago have been described as “jazz”, Jazz Artists on the Greens™ is the long standing leader in providing a space for artistes to showcase this music that we have taken and made our own. The landscape for jazz festivals and jazz events in the past year has been flat with a number of local events showing diminished audiences and a narrow cast that keeps popping up continually. Jazz Artists on the Greens™ has defied the trend with 2017 showing large audience participation and social media interaction displaying positive responses. 2018 hopes to repeat that trend and exceed. Thank you all! We will see you again for our 2019 edition of Jazz Artists on the Greens™ on Saturday, April 6, 2019. “Come for the lime...Discover the music!”

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

8 Jazz in the Islands SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

J9QUARTET feat. Jeanine Ruiz The sublime Jeanine Ruiz leads the J9Quartet, a new collective that will debut their brand new EP, This Is Me at Jazz Artists on the Greens™ 2018. Keyboardist, Ruiz, a graduate of both University of the West Indies and the University of Trinidad and Tobago, is a composer, arranger, producer and sound engineer. Her influences range from local jazz piano icon the late Dave Marcellin to international pianists including Japanese star Hiromi, Michel Camilo from the Dominican Republic, and jazz legends Bill Evans and Chick Corea. With this eclectic range, it is no wonder that Jeanine says that “her compositions are described as ‘Fusion’, which does not fall into any specific genre but comprises many styles based on Trinbago’s multiculturalism and other world music.” The J9Quartet, created with the freedom of performing compositions by Ruiz, comprises of piano (Ruiz), guitar (Aaron low Chew Tung), bass (Jemel Patrice), drums (Azriel Bahadoor) with an additional featured vocal quartet: Janine Charles Farray, Louise Clarke, LeAndra Head and Tylah Head.

ADAN HAGLEY Adan Hagley, a Berklee College of Music graduate opted to return home and share his talents with a public always in search of the new. Soca songs, singers and calypsos are made and discarded with limited replay annually, so this habit of renewal is a challenge for local musicians including those in the jazz fraternity. Hagley has put his touch on recent hits from Voice “Cheer For Life” and Ultimate Rejects “Full Extreme” giving new life to the songs and reflecting a wider Caribbean palate for rhythms and harmonies. Hagley has been freelancing as a pianist with many of the country’s top acts, among them Vaughnette Bigford, Clive Zanda, Dean Williams, Tony Paul and Andy Narell. As a composer and arranger he has also been working in a variety of media including film music for award winning local films. He has recently taken up the role of bandleader of his highly regarded nonet, The Adan Hagley Project, to perform his original compositions and arrangements, and he has been making the rounds in the local jazz festivals. Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 9

JAM ON THE GROOVE: A Tribute to Ralph MacDonald Starring TONY PAUL Tony Paul was born into a musical family. In secondary school, Fatima College, he was a winner in the woodwinds class at the music festival. He moved to London after graduation pursuing a degree in music, performing with UK based musicians of renown. Returning to Trinidad, he is the leading saxophone player, performing at all the jazz festivals on the islands, even opening for Earth, Wind & Fire in 2014 as a leader, at the Tobago Jazz Experience. Tony Paul is now the head of the jazz department at the UTT, teaching a new generation of musicians. Tony Paul along with UTT students and an all star cast of local jazz musicians will pay tribute to the pioneering Trini-American composer, arranger and recording artist, Ralph MacDonald playing his hits like “Where Is The Love”, “Just The Two Of Us”, Trade Winds”, Mister Magic”, and more. See page 16 for more on Ralph MacDonald

ELAN TROTMAN US-based Elan Trotman represents the contemporary musician whose portfolio of performances and recordings could be considered, in Trinidad jazz circles, as an institution in his own right. With nine contemporary jazz album under his belt, including his most recent “Electro Sax”, this Bajan star has moved from being awed and inspired as a youngster by a Grover Washington Jr. performance at a past Barbados Jazz Festival in the 1990s through graduating from Berklee College of Music at the urging of his mentor, fellow Bajan saxman Arturo Tappin, to rubbing shoulders with the cream of the crop of contemporary jazz musicians all over the world. Elan Trotman is unwavering in his commitment to wave the flag high for Caribbean music. Trotman has found his groove with the deliberate fusion of island rhythms with the tropes of smooth jazz and skilful horn playing that is full of surprises too. “The tropicality elements are part of who I am and I’m sticking with it,” says Trotman. See page 14 for more on Elan Trotman 10 Jazz in the Islands






Official Water of Jazz Artists on the Greens™



Langston Roach Industries Kanhai Raghubir Jewelers Courts Unicomer Trinidad Lisa’s Fabrics / Lisa Faye Travel Plus HADCO Group Wood House




• • • • • • • • • •

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 2019, email

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

Kanhai Raghubir Jewelers; House of Chan; Off-the-Wall Music Centre; Stecher’s; WrapWorks; The Medical Dispensary; Crosby’s Music Centre; Gold Kingdom Jewellery Cleve’s Record Store Sun Tixx Caribbean Ltd.

Read more Jazz in theTHE Islands. March 2018 11 JAZZ ARTISTS ONonline THE at GREENS 2018: 16TH EDITION

12 Jazz in the Islands

André Woodvine

Original compositions that reflect diverse influences


With more than 35 years in the business, saxophonist André Woodvine should not need a re-introduction to audiences here or anywhere for that matter. Yorkshire-born, Barbados-bred, Berklee-trained, this widely travelled musician — he lives in Barbados — composer and educator has been hailed by audiences in the Caribbean, North America and Europe for his “passionate tone, exciting improvisations and unique compositions.” Whether it is touring with Martiniquan jazz band Fal Fret, or composing for film, Woodvine has focussed on the islands and family for inspiration. He has produced five CDs of original Caribbean Jazz, two of which stand out for an exciting recall. The albums Fix It On Monday (2009) and Some Assembly Required (2007) represent serious effort to capture the essence of the Caribbean with the language of jazz. Woodvine provides liner note to enhance the sounds: “[Some Assembly Required] began as an experiment to see if it was possible to create a professional sounding CD in an 8 by 10 home office, using a PC, a very good sound card, software, speakers and microphones. The first step was to stage a

coup, claim a room in our house, throw all my wife’s ballet costumes out while a carpenter assembled a closet for them all to hang in. Next came the assembly of a computer desk, a digital audio workstation, software. A long gradual process of assembling notes and sounds into arrangements, ideas and expressions into something worth listening to. “This CD’s title was inspired by all the things that a married couple have to assemble; cribs, swingsets, toys, etc. I started to think of all the elements of our daily existence that involve assembly of some kind or another, and how even my family’s arrival in Barbados was due to my father starting an electronics assembly plant here. By having the luxury of recording at home, I was able to experiment with arrangements and song forms in the hope of breaking out of the usual musical paths that we tend to travel. I particularly enjoyed assembling contrasting rhythmic styles and tempos and making them work together.” “[Fix It On Monday]...I realised the other day that I have been playing the saxophone and making music for over thirty five years now. How time flies when you’re having fun! Each CD I’ve created has had it’s own character and this one is no exception. It has soul, humour, humanity and truly reflects my Caribbean home. Each song on this album has been a labour of love. A personal expression that over time took on a life of it’s own.... Recorded live in my wife’s ballet studio along with three of Barbados’ best jazz musicians who came and gave it their all. Drummer David Burnett, a quiet man with huge talent and sound. Richard Evans, who is always striving to get the most out of his bass and Pianist Stefan Walcott cheerfully bringing shades of Theolonius Monk to the Caribbean.” Moving from influence to inspiration, André Woodvine continues the Barbados tradition of great Caribbean saxophone players.

ANDRE WOODVINE Fix it on Monday (Vine, 2009) “Mature, sunny, soulful Caribbean melodies seeking Inspiring jazzy instrumental improv for long-term relationship. Serious inquiries only.” —CD Baby

Available at

ANDRE WOODVINE Some Assembly Required (Vine, 2007) “Some Assembly Required is an intriguing collection of nine original instrumentals composed and performed with the warmth, humour and musicality that fans of his music have come to expect” —Caribzones

Available at

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 13

Elan Trotman is Here

From Bridgetown to Beantown, from the beach to the big stage

2001 – Memories The Debut 2005 – Let’s Have a Good Old Time 2008 – A Reggae Christmas 2009 – This Time Around 2011 – Love and Sax 2013 – Tropicality 2015 – #LiveandUncut

2016 – Double Take 2017 – Electro Sax Trotman has already been credited with ten Top 25 Billboard Radio singles from his own albums and from collaborations with Brian Simpson (“Just What You Need“), Greg Manning (“Groove Me“), Cal Harris Jr. (“Smooth“) Lin Rountree (“As“), Marion Meadows (“Magic Men”), and Julian Vaughn (“Ride Along”) that made him a permanent fixture on radio playlists. A frequent collaborator, he has performed with a number of world class musicians and artists including Michael McDonald, Roberta Flack, Johnny Gill, Peabo Bryson, Jeffrey Osborne, Sheila E, and contemporary jazz mainstays Paul Brown, Kirk Whalum, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jonathan Butler, Keiko Matsui, Marcus Miller, Will Downing, Earl Klugh, Jeff Lorber, Peter White, Brian Simpson and others. Aside from being a popular draw on the festival and club circuit, he is giving back to Barbados by founding the non-profit Never Lose Your Drive Foundation with its Head Start Music Program providing music instruments and music education for young Bajans. He has also produced a new jazz festival with the Barbados Jazz Excursion that serves as a new tourism magnet for jazz fans. He is in a place in his career still searching for a sound that can last for generations. The key is just to stay working, adapting and staying alive. JAOTG 2018 welcomes Elan Trotman.


Elan Trotman’s official artist bio notes that the Barbados native “has quickly become one of jazz’s most thrilling and emotive performers as he continues to stand out and push boundaries as a composer, performer, teacher and recording artist.” He was raised in Barbados, and educated at the worldrenowned Berklee College of Music in Boston via a scholarship from the government of Barbados. Inspired by his early mentor Arturo Tappin along with recorded favourites, Grover Washington, Jr., Kirk Whalum and Najee, Trotman’s playing displays his own fresh ideas and distinctive tone. Trotman is unwavering in his commitment to wave the flag high for Caribbean music. Trotman has found

his groove with the deliberate fusion of island rhythms with the tropes of smooth jazz and skilful horn playing that is full of surprises too. “The tropicality elements are part of who I am and I’m sticking with it,” says Trotman. “It’ll always be part of my sound and I believe in it. It is part of my brand and it’s authentic to my Bajan roots.” He is straightforward in his choice of smooth jazz as opposed to straight ahead: “Trying to launch a career in the U.S. after coming from a tiny island can be a very humbling experience, but it can also inspire you to be different and push you to find ways to make your voice distinct,” he says. With the launch of his latest album Electro Sax in 2017, Trotman certainly made his “voice” more distinct from the many smooth jazz saxophonists on the scene. He further explains: “I try to use young producers that don’t typically work with smooth jazz artists, then I write catchy, sing-able hooks, bringing in my influences and experiences. I see myself as part of the new generation of contemporary jazz artists, and hope to be a part of the new movement that will help to preserve the art-form.” As a recording artist, Trotman has released nine soul-jazz albums:

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ELAN TROTMAN ALBUM REVIEWS Elan Trotman Group #LiveAndUncut (Island Muzik Productions)

Barbadian saxophonist, Elan Trotman serves up on this eighth album #LiveAndUncut (“Live and Uncut” for the Twitter hashtag averse) a tropical feel that defines the elements of smooth jazz that have a legion of fans reaching for a Rum Punch and the resort menu. Combining catchy hooks and warm melodies, with the purposeful blending of danceable calypso and reggae rhythms is a strategy that would separate Elan from the rest of the pack of smooth jazz saxophonists. Lead single, “Smooth ‘n’ Saxy” aptly describes the mood of the album that introduces the listening audience to the steelpan sound as an ambience enhancer. The track “Simon Paul” slyly mimics Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” melodic charm to cheerful results finding the Caribbean jam where there was a hint before. “Bop & Run” is a calypso re-invented while “Funkalypso” is a jazz soloist’s paradise. This album should be a must-have on any jazz or Caribbean playlist.

Available at iTunes

Elan Trotman’s Tropicality Elan Torotman Double Take (Island Musik Productions) Electro Sax (Island Muzik Productions) “First impressions are the most lasting,” is a popular proverb that makes the case for a grand debut to cement a perfect memory. Well, certainly not this time as Barbadian saxophonist Elan Trotman has recast a number of his previously released songs from his many years as a recording artist and given them a second look, a double take if you will. He has refreshed the sound and arrangements of his Caribbean-rhythm infused smooth jazz to make them shine through—to Caribbean ears at least—

Bajan saxman Elan Trotman keeps churning out new albums at a rapid pace, as if to suggest the uptake of his new music is effective and guaranteed to be popular. With this, his tenth full-length album since 2001, he keeps evolving his style around his smooth jazz base to eke out new niches. Utilising the electronic dance music drum elements so popular in recent times, Electro Sax redefines what is possible with Caribbean music. Aware that this album will “definitely ruffle feathers” for its modern production aesthetic — he assembled a creative team of up-andcoming producers, all Berklee College of Music alumni: Spardakis, P-Nut, Dr O, and Da Troof — Trotman is persevering in his push to promote the tropicality elements along with just great music for dancing. Debut single “Island Gyal” percolates with a sexy reggae vibe, keeping hope alive that this experiment in EDM fusion remains grounded in his Bajan roots.

with the positioning of the steelpan in a more forward position. His vocals on Bill Withers’ classic “Lovely Day” are direct and make one smile at the simple charm of this song. “Tradewinds” is the antithesis to a dull day in the tropics; lilting and easy to dance to. His band of fellow Berklee College of Music alumni, Tropicality, has the musical chops to make this new impression far from diminished.

Available at iTunes

Available at iTunes

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 15


Ralph MacDonald Remembered A tribute to a pioneering Caribbean percussionist and composer

When Ralph MacDonald died in December 2011, the world of music lost a prolific musician — percussion of all kinds were his tools of the trade — as well as a Grammy winning producer and songwriter. The significance of his 16 Jazz in the Islands

passing was more apparent to those who listened to and knew his music in the islands. Ralph was grounded in the percussive heartbeat of Trinidad, he being the son of calypsonian Macbeth The Great, an early pioneering singer

who migrated to the US to make a living in calypso outside of the Caribbean from the 1930s. In a household of Trinidadian immigrants, many playing in calypso bands at the time, something was bound to rub off. The New York Times in 1977


Ralph MacDonald

MacDonald worked with a wide range of artists, from Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Aretha Franklin to Quincy Jones, Luther Vandross and Amy Winehouse. His music was popularly performed on the saxophone with his most frequent performer being Grover Washington, Jr. for whom he wrote the huge hit “Just the Two Of Us”. He also had his songs performed by saxophonists Sadao Watanabe, Joe Farrell and Tom Scott MacDonald earned two Grammy Awards in 1978 as a producer and performer on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, for which he contributed the track “Calypso Breakdown.” “My approach is to work with melody by simply enhancing it,” MacDonald told The New York Times in 1977, when the newspaper called him “the ghost behind the million-selling albums.” Ralph MacDonald’s passion for Trinidad never wavered, in the sound and the rhythm, even in the titles of the songs, many recalling places in the island. Included in these gems are, “East Dry River”, “Maraval”, Santa Cruz”, “San Souci Bay”, Mayaro Drive” and San Juan Girl” (no it ain’t Puerto Rico!) He wrote calypsos, he wrote love song, he defined the islands for an audience unaccustomed to Just The Two Of Us, Trinidad and Tobago. Jazz Artists on the Greens and the world celebrate his spirit.


PART A - The Jam 1. Jam On The Groove 2. Mister Magic PART B - Trinidad Interlude 3. Jouvert Jam 4. East Dry River 5. Mayaro Drive PART C - Trinbago Love 6. In The Name Of Love 7. Trade Winds 8. Where is the Love (duet) PART D - Into the Diaspora 9. The Path 10. Little Black Samba PART E - Calypso & Carnival 11. Just The Two Of Us 12. Discolypso 13. Don’t Stop The Carnival

All songs composed or arranged or produced by Ralph MacDonald.


described his percussion origins: “Mr. MacDonald began learning his craft at an early age. His father and five uncles, immigrants from Trinidad, all played professionally in calypso bands. It was one of his uncles, Urias Fritz, who taught him to play with his fingers, not his whole hand, and showed him where to hit the drum. “He didn’t just hit the top of the drum,” Mr. MacDonald said in an interview. “He’d hit it all over, for all types of sounds.” MacDonald learned to play steelpan and percussion at an early age and performed with Harry Belafonte’s band for a decade from 17 — he composed the album Calypso Carnival for Belafonte in 1971 — before striking out on his own in the early 1970s. With his two song writing partners William Salter and William Eaton, he began to compose. And the hits came early with “Where Is The Love” for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. Flack became a muse for him, as he composed many songs for her for the rest of his life. MacDonald’s compositions have the lilt and feel of the easy Caribbean, and a sonic palate that reflected the islands. His distinctive Afro-Caribbean percussion flavoured dozens of popular songs, including David Bowie’s “Young Americans” and Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” Over the years,

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 17


The steelpan had a hazardous birth with young creole geniuses innovating without the rigour of science at their beck and call. Within a couple decades from the birth and violent expansion of the role of pan as a community lynch pin, some pioneers went away and opted not to return. By their exile, they allowed this original sound, this result of the “audacity of creole imagination” to flourish and move among the world’s musics. Sterling Betrancourt and Russ Henderson went to London. Rudy Smith went to Europe and ultimately settling in Scandinavia. Annise Hadeed, 18 Jazz in the Islands

a generation later, also went to London. Robert Greenidge, Garvin Blake, Leon Foster Thomas all went to America. These men, among others, not only represent a kind of brain drain for us, but they represent a new explorer, a new pioneer. While more musicians migrate for a livelihood in music, new ideas of exchange occur in this connected era. However, some traditions make sense, and remain as landmarks in the globalisation of pan. Ralph MacDonald put the sound of pan on a Number One record in the USA. That is a kind of vision that was attempted before when

the steelpan was considered exotic. Those pioneers listed before did not see the “puffed-sleeve shirt, straw hat” image of the steel pan and its poolside milieu, but these were simply instruments like a piano or guitar. Their exile was strength. As opportunities wane for a maximising of creative enterprise in the islands due to depleted genius, inefficient public sector response to natural disasters, the frustration of musicians, the possibility of jazz conversations on the steelpan, beyond the boundary, becomes a light at the end of a tunnel long unseen before the internet. Pan has no borders.

PAN JAZZ REVIEWS Leon Foster Thomas Metamorphosis (Ropeadope Records)

Caribbean musicians are increasingly moving to the metropolitan commercial centres of the music business world to spread the rhythms and sounds created in these islands. Leon Foster Thomas, a Trinidadian steelpan virtuoso, is resident in Miami, Florida and is relying on that connection to a larger market to spread the sound of the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. Metaporphosis, Thomas’ third album, is his debut on important jazz label Ropeadope Records, and signals a critical and commercial blossoming beyond his early funky steelpan jazz beginnings into a standout quartet leader; a metamorphosis if you will. Ten tracks of progressive jazz fusion that highlights the intelligent interplay between steelpan and other instruments without losing the idea that Caribbean music can be improvised and swing. World fusion is in effect. Haitian-born, New York-bred trumpeter Jean Caze and master Latin jazz percussionist, Sammy Figueroa guest on the album.

Available at BandCamp

Garvin Blake Parallel Overtones (Khalabash Music)

Rudy Smith Quartet Glass World (Stunt Records)

Brooklyn-based steel pannist Garvin Blake at long last follows up his 1999 debut album Belle Eau Road Blues with his new paean to pan jazz music, Parallel Overtones. The album is described as exploring “the synergy between pan, calypso, and jazz,” which it does with sure-handed skill. Balancing a repertoire between jazz standards and calypsos, Blake stealthily makes the case for renewed efforts of Caribbean pannists to record new music for the instrument.

Trailblazing steelpan jazz virtuoso Rudy Smith has been fusing the sound of the pan with bebop and progressive jazz for nearly fifty years, “premiering” the sound of native invention and “creole imagination” in the wider world. Europe has been his stomping ground for all those years, and with his eleventh fulllength album Smith serves as a bona fide symbol of music excellence. Glass World finds Smith back fronting his Danish jazz band, re-inventing the idea of the steelpan as a solo instrument for jazz without the feeling of it being too avant garde. “Plangent” was the word used by a reviewer to describe the sound of the double second steelpans used by Smith, but a more apt descriptive would be “euphonious.” That tone juxtaposes beautifully within the songs, mainly written by his long-time collaborator and pianist Ole Matthiessen, to serve up a new standard in a diminishing marketplace for unique jazz. Traditional jazz is best served with originality, and this album delivers.

Vincentian keyboard stalwart Frankie McIntosh shares co-production along with songwriting and arrangement credits, making this album a showcase for the art of the Caribbean piano, with a sense of swing found only in hot latitudes. Kaiso-jazz classic “Fancy Sailor” sashays along at the steady chip of a slow lavway, while “Body and Soul” waltzes effortlessly to ably feature Blake’s quintet of players as soloists. The steelpan jazz oeuvre, while notably small, is emboldened by the addition of this well-produced album.

Available at iTunes

Available at iTunes

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 19

MORE ALBUM REVIEWS Kareem Thompson Pan Roots Culture (Self Released)

Brooklyn-born pannist Kareem Thompson revels in his Trinidadian heritage on his debut album as a leader away from his band K.I.T. Caribbean Connection, fully exploring more complex jazz harmonies. The continued fusion of Caribbean rhythms and melodic phrases makes the listener recognise Thompson’s roots, and he has not strayed too far from those early cultural influences. The title track with its percussive voicing gives credence to the idea that steelpan jazz is wide open to further evolution, as those sonic cues that define the sub-genre are subtly pushed aside for an exploration of the broader range of harmonies and rhythms. “The Sun Will Shine Today” is a standout track that has the players on this album skilfully soloing. With five out of seven tracks composed by Thompson, this album is a showcase for a rising talent in pan jazz, hopeful to maintain the Caribbean variation of jazz music in the Americas.

Available at iTunes

20 Jazz in the Islands

Victor Provost Bright Eyes (Paquito Records)

Marvin Dolly Shades Of Life (Self Released)

Virgin Island steelpan jazz virtuoso Victor Provost sets an optimistic tone with his second album, Bright Eyes, capturing the influence of the Caribbean more so than on his debut album six years ago. Bebop swagger gives way to a progressive jazz world fusion while still maintaining a deft touch that allows the tenor pan to ring true. On the eleven tunes on this album, Provost runs through a gamut of styles and select composers, to give the steelpan a context outside its calypso base. The

New York–based Trinidadian guitarist Marvin Dolly surprises on this debut album, Shades of Life, with a quiet contemplation of trio-playing featuring just guitar, bass, and trumpet. In an intimate setting devoid of the thump of the drum, the soloists each have room to speak clearly and emotively in this conversation among acoustic instruments. Dolly, along with J.S. Williams on trumpet and John Gray on double bass, mainly, cruises through this set of subdued jazz tunes that harken back to the cool jazz ambience of 1950s West Coast America, contrasting with the bebop bombast of New York of the same era. The music, thankfully, does not wallow in the excess of a similar-sounding ambient lounge or minimalist new-age aesthetic. Dolly’s guitar finds its full voice on the tracks “Calypsonian Dream” and “Short Letters to Mother”, solo and duet guitar pieces, respectively, that make a solid opening gambit for a Caribbean instrumentalist’s voice in the diaspora.

obligatory homage to calypso legend Lord Kitchener is included — “Pan in Harmony” — but this album reflects Provost’s recent apprenticeship with Cuban saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and his wider exploration of improvised tropical music. Mazurka, baião, calypso, and funky Afro-Cuban jazz all have a presence here. Guest soloists — including the aforementioned D’Rivera, alongside Etienne Charles and Ron Blake, to name a few — flavour this Caribbean jazz gumbo which swings with enough intensity to keep your attention. Available at Sunnyside Records

Available at iTunes

Read more online at Jazz in the Islands. March 2018 3

4 Jazz in the Islands

Profile for Jett Samm Publishing

Jazz in the Islands - Issue #6 (Digital)  

March 2018. Elan Trotman, André Woodvine, Richard Bailey, Ralph MacDonald Rememebered. A New model for Caribbean Jazz fests. Reviews, previe...

Jazz in the Islands - Issue #6 (Digital)  

March 2018. Elan Trotman, André Woodvine, Richard Bailey, Ralph MacDonald Rememebered. A New model for Caribbean Jazz fests. Reviews, previe...