Interplay instrumental for nuturing local jazz

The Harquail Theatre vibrated to
the soothing sounds of jazz and swing, Saturday, 27 March.

The evening began at 7.30pm, had
its share of improvised music and attracted an enthusiastic audience of about
150 people.

 Performances were staged by The Swingrays (a
local swing ensemble); Cool School, led by the concert’s main organiser Wil Steward,
performed Well You Needn’t, Manha de Carnaval and Moanin’; guest vocalists were
Bella Rooney who sang Lullaby of Birdland; Sue Howe and Neil Rooney.

Mr. Rooney and Ms Howe sang a duet
of Baby it’s Cold Outside, and Mr.
Rooney soloed with A Foggy Day (in London Town) and I’ve Got the World on a
String; Glenn Inanga, co-founder of Cayman Arts
Festival, did an improv of two classical pieces by Rachmaninoff and Chopin;
Fred Haas accompanied his wife, the jazz singer, Sabrina Brown who sang several
jazz standards and the curtain closed following  a blues jamto
Duke Ellington’s C Jam Blues by all the musicians.

Bella Rooney was the youngest
performer. The 11-year-old received a warm round of applause following her
rendition of an Ella Fitzgerald standard. 

The Cayman Prep School student said:
“I never feel nervous before performing much before shows but usually start
getting butterflies in my stomach three numbers before mine… It feels as if
something has been lifted off my shoulders when I hear the applause and know
that I’ve done a good job.”

Seventeen-year-old Melanie Ebanks,
a saxophonist and member of the Swingrays, also performed. She said: [Being on
stage] was a little nerve wracking but I’m used to it because I do theatre
summer camp in Michigan and have performed in plays at the Prospect Playhouse.

Audience member Kelly Hill said:
“It’s awesome… the quality of the sound, the precision of the performances
and the atmosphere has made the show for me so far. Everyone’s happy.”

Fellow audience member Fiona
Theaker said: “The fact that it is jazz and swing and that we’ve got all this
local talent of all ages is very impressive.”

The event’s lead organiser, Wil
Steward, gave a short speech following the intermission.

He described Fred Haas as a “world
class musician and educator” who had persuaded him to attend his Interplay
summer camps in Woodstock, Vermont and had been instrumental in him staging the
concert at the Harquail Theatre.

A number of jazz workshops were
held at the University College of the Cayman Islands, as spin-offs of the
concert and were run by Mr. Haas and Ms Brown.

Mr. Steward
said: “These workshops were a first step to introducing our community to
possibilities of hosting an annual session with faculty from Interplay in the

“There Interplay
has managed to attract a faculty who are all wonderful teachers and world class
performers, so I have always thought it would be exciting to bring them here
for a week to nurture standards of excellence in our music community.

“We have
already started discussions with CNCF and UCCI about partnering with us in next
year’s event. We will try to cover basic costs to host the workshops and
already have expressions of interest for sponsorship from several local
businesses,” he added.