From the moment Barbadian saxophonist Arturo Tappin strutted through the crowd belting out an energetic and jazzed-up instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s “Bad”, attendees of the Batabano fundraising dinner at Tiki Beach on 2 May knew they were in for a treat.
The event, called Le Masque, was the official start to the 2013 Cayman Carnival Batabano, the 30-year anniversary for the festival. Batabano was launched in 1983 as an initiative of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman.
After a sparkling wine reception, guests enjoyed a buffet dinner that included roasted suckling pig, chicken and fish and an array of side dishes.
During dinner there were a few raindrops, but Batabano chairwoman Donna Myrie-Stephen told everyone they should stick around because it was only going to be a few drops, and she was right.
Mrs. Myrie-Stephen told the crowd, which included many visiting Cayman Islands Tourism Exchange delegates, that the festival was named after the tracks female turtles make on the beach when they lay their eggs.
LIME’s General Manager Tony Ritch spoke about his company’s 10-year run as title sponsor for Batabano and said it remained committed to an event that was culturally important.
The dynamic Tappin had performed in Cayman before, including at the now defunct Cayman Jazz Fest in 2006 and 2009. His smooth jazz style features a definite Caribbean flair, which became evident about midway through the Le Masque show. After his energetic opening number, Tappin settled into some classic jazz covers that highlighted his amazing skills on the saxophone, but kept the audience mostly in their seats. Then, when one of his accompanying band members started on a steel drum, the guests were on their feet in no time, and the dance floor was busy. One of the things evident the show was how much Tappin enjoys performing. He smiles – big genuine smiles – often and during the soca-jazz segment of his show, he could be seen singing to himself during breaks from playing.
His music offered a little bit of something for everyone, including a couple of slow-dance songs, with a cover of the Stylistics ‘You make me feel brand new’ a soulful highlight.
Toward the end of the show, Tappin stepped off stage and played on the dance floor, and got into an improvised solo the had the audience in awe.
Tappin and his band played one long set without a break that left the audience more than satisfied and got the 2013 Batabano off to a great start.