Jazz Fest sets records

This year’s Cayman Jazz Fest broke all records for attendance as more than 5,000 people saw the event climax on Saturday night.

Multi-million selling artist Alicia Keys brought it to a close with a performance of many highlights including an outstanding performance of enormous hit No One as patrons cheered and danced.

Keys was a first-time visitor to Cayman, but although the singer was only able to stay for a single day on this occasion, she said that it would not be the last time.

‘I would love to spend some vacation time here,’ she said. ‘The people I’ve met have been so lovely. It’s gorgeous and the energy is great. I came in, went to sound check, then went to my room, sat on my balcony, the waves were crashing and I watched the sun set.’

The three-day festival kicked off on Thursday with a headlining set by Oleta Adams at Pedro St. James, before festivities moved to Camana Bay, a new home for the festival this year.

More than 2,000 revellers were treated to a Friday night full of life, including local acts Big Eye Squirrel, guitarist Jon Ebanks and young start Ricco Ebanks.

Saxophonist Mike Phillips, on his third appearance here, played a popular and exciting set and double-Grammy winner Peabo Bryson and R&B superstar Keith Sweat concluded the night.

‘It’s one of the better jazz festivals,’ said Sweat. ‘It’s crowded, so it was important for me to be here.

‘It’s beautiful, the people enjoy the music, they have a great time. I had a phenomenal time last time so I came back. It’s good for us as artists to come here – it’s a vacation and work so you have your cake and can eat it, too.’

Saturday saw attendance figures go through the roof with many attendees bringing blankets and extra chairs to sit on as the bumper crowd swelled to fill all corners of the Camana Bay site. Local acts Los Tropicanos, Absolute Joy and Jeffrey Wilson showed their talents before international artists Arturo Tappin, Elle Varner and Jermaine Paul warmed the huge crowd up further for the main event.

By the time Alicia Keys came onstage, at around 11.15pm, people were standing in the aisles and when she started there was dancing on chairs.

The New York singer was world-class as festivities ran past the allotted finish time of midnight.

Keys said that her time on the island had been inspiring and that this would impact on her song writing in the future.

‘Whenever I’m able to be by the water and be in such beautiful surroundings I feel peace, I feel calm, and it does draw me to write, so who knows. I would love to come here, spend more time and hopefully write the next song here,’ she said.

‘I felt this beautiful energy here and I can’t wait to come back.’