When the Cayman Islands held its first Jazz Fest back in June 2004, the idea was to create an event that would grow into something that not only residents enjoyed and supported, but something that would bring tourists to the Island as well.
That first Jazz Fest had some recognisable names in Bob James, David Sanborn and headliner Roberta Flack.
The problem was that although Flack is an R&B legend, her Grammy awards came 30 years previously and she was 67 years old when she performed here.
There was some interest from residents in seeing a legend perform, but Flack wasn’t exactly the kind of act that would draw tourists from overseas. However, the Jazz Fest had to start somewhere.
Subsequently, the event moved to a cooler December timeslot. Names like Al Jarreau, Earl Klugh and Anita Baker appeared, but the event remained somewhat limited, partially because of its Pageant Beach venue.
That has all changed now.
Any one of the 5,000 or so people that attended Saturday night’s Jazz Fest 2009 finale had to be impressed.
The Camana Bay venue was far better than Pageant Beach.
The stage set-up was much better than anything this Island has ever seen.
The lighting was better. The sound system was better. There were two giant video screens that showed six or seven different camera angles.
There were more food vendors than ever and one couldn’t help be hungry with all of the jerk barbeque smoke wafting through the crowd.
And then there was a long line-up of talented local and international acts, topped off by Alicia Keys, a 28-year-old star at the peak of her career with 12 Grammy awards already under her belt.
This was the kind of event that brought tourists. And this is the kind of event that, when word gets around, will bring even more tourists. It will also add something to the quality of life here for residents.
The Cayman Islands Jazz Fest came of age this past weekend and everyone involved should be proud.