Caribbean Jazz on the Green
delivered an outstanding night of top quality jazz from some of the most
enthusiastic proponents in the region last Saturday.
The event, which organisers
estimate was experienced by 250 people, was held in the private grounds of
co-organiser Gaston Maloney, off Agnes Way, George Town.
A drinks tent and food stalls
skirted the sides of Mr. Maloney’s large garden, allowing attendees to eat and
imbibe to their hearts’ content while soaking up some first-class jazz.
Audience members enjoyed sets from
local jazz bands Cool School and Absolute Joy. The evening ended with a rousing
set by the US-based Lionel Loueke
Staged as a benefit by jazz
aficionados The Friends of Jazz; the proceeds of Caribbean Jazz on the Green will
go the George Town Sports Club.
Hopscotch Studios’ sound engineers
worked their own brand of magic ensuring that everyone in the large open-air
venue heard every note.
Cool School, consisting of band
leader Wil Steward (piano), Keith Millar (trumpet), Natalie Barber (sax), Brian
Robinson (drums), Glen Scott (guitar) and Roger “Bugs” Wilson (bass), played a
one hour set, paving the way for the other acts later on that evening.
The crowd, who sat on chairs and on
blankets nearer the front, were appreciative and were warm in their response,
especially to the tune Moanin’ during which band members sang.
The next band on stage was Absolute
Joy, headed up by Devon Edie. Accompanied by Jah Mitch Ebanks (guitar), Norris
Webb (keyboard), Bob Ebanks (drums) and Richard Ebanks (bass), the band’s
infectious mix of Caribbean jazz (jazz fused with calypso, reggae and swing)
went down well with the audience.
Absolute Joy’s instrumental version
of Bob Marley’s song Waiting in Vain was the highlight of the 10-song set.
The Lionel Loueke Trio crossed
continents and set the audience on their edge of their seats with an Afro-Jazz set.
The first song showcased the vocal range and ingenuity of Mr. Loueke who sang
in his native tongue, let his voice soar out over the tree tops.
Originally from Benin, West Africa,
the musician, a rising star in the international jazz firmament, rallied fellow
musicians – Ferenc Nemeth (drums) and Massimo Biolcati (base) opening the audience’s
ears to African beats, rhythms and vocals blended with modern jazz. At times
the band leader sang, lobbing guttural clicks and invocations while practically
drumming on his guitar and placing paper in its strings to infuse the music
with the band’s distinctive sound.
At one point he urged the crowd to
come closer so that he could “feel the love”. The five front rows jumped up and
moved closer to the stage and a few audience members, caught up in the beauty
of the set and the vibe, got up and danced.
The organisers Anton Iton and
Gaston Maloney were amply rewarded for staging such an enjoyable show with
One disappointment was that the
Cesar Lopez y Habana Ensemble was a no-show. The famous Cuban group was not
able to attend due to visa issues. The other disappointment was that the
evening ended at 10pm. For the audience it could and should have gone on far