Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Jazz in Trinidad and Tobago: An Improvised existence in the Islands


I was recently asked to present a paper at a panel on "History, Difference, and Resistance in Post-Colonial Musics" at the 40th Annual Conference of the Caribbean Studies Association in New Orleans, LA, May 25-29, 2015.

Abstract

The native music of Trinidad and Tobago was first recorded on disc in 1912, some five years before jazz music was recorded. Over the next century, the fusion of ideas and the invasion of influences have morphed that local music into various genres like soca, but those musicians who steadfastly maintained that improvised music was the domain of the Americas have created a new sub-genre of calypso jazz that thrives tenuously in the economic space on the island and within the diaspora. This time line of the development and dispersion of the music catalogs its growth, its commercial appeal beyond the border and its true significance within the economic and cultural space of the Caribbean. 

Keywords: calypso, kaiso, jazz, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, jazz fusion, steelpan, calypso jazz, kaisojazz




Creative Commons Licence
Jazz in Trinidad and Tobago: An Improvised Existence in the Islands by Nigel A. Campbell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.academia.edu/12835158/Jazz_in_Trinidad_and_Tobago_An_Improvised_existence_in_the_Islands.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Caribbean Beat Reviews – May/June 2015ª


Parallel Overtones Garvin Blake

Brooklyn-based steel pannist Garvin Blake at long last follows up his 1999 debut album Belle Eau Road Blues with his new paean to pan jazz music, Parallel Overtones. The album is described as exploring “the synergy between pan, calypso, and jazz,” which it does with sure-handed skill. Balancing a repertoire between jazz standards and calypsos, Blake stealthily makes the case for renewed efforts of Caribbean pannists to record new music for the instrument. Vincentian keyboard stalwart Frankie McIntosh shares co-production along with songwriting and arrangement credits, making this album a showcase for the art of the Caribbean piano, with a sense of swing found only in hot latitudes. Kaiso-jazz classic “Fancy Sailor” sashays along at the steady chip of a slow lavway, while “Body and Soul” waltzes effortlessly to ably feature Blake’s quintet of players as soloists. The steelpan jazz oeuvre, while notably small, is emboldened by the addition of this well-produced album.

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  1. More Caribbean Playlist reviews appear in the May/June 2015 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.

© 2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

"Jazz" is the new after-Carnival music option in Trinidad and Tobago

Jazz options in T&T
Trinidad and Tobago's music operates within a seasonal cycle that would intrigue music lovers or music business observers outside these islands. Christmas has it's music, obviously, as does Carnival, and those limits must not be breached out of tradition, or plainly, because the public's appetite is prescribed by habits not easily broken, despite some soca creep. The recent Carnival gives way to what is a wasteland for all other musics in this island to battle for the appreciation of the consumer and the fancy of the music programmer. Jazz, or more specifically jazz in the Caribbean, including pan jazz, seems to have the commercial and aesthetic appeal of a wide cross-section of the community.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Caribbean Beat Reviews – January/February 2015ª

Oui ma Chérie! Andy Narell

Trinidadians are notoriously protective of their national instrument, the steelpan, so much so that when iconoclastic American pannist Andy Narell releases a new CD, the chauvinistic hubris echoing among local voices can and does sting. Narell’s riposte in this instance is an album of five long musical interludes, a balance of originals and Trinidad song /calypso that defines broader genre options for the steelpan. Jazz dissonance and tropical rhythms that suggest the wider Caribbean outside of Trinidad move the body of music for the instrument several steps ahead. Narell single-handedly plays all the parts of a small steel orchestra to capture with near sonic perfection the timbre of the modern steelband, and blends it with solo guitar and trumpet to imagine newer possibilities. After 18 previous albums, it is clear that the sound born of “the audacity of the creole imagination” in Trinidad is now global, and this album is apt proof of Narell’s significance.

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  1. More Caribbean Playlist reviews appear in the January/February 2015 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.

© 2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: Another Year in Music - an excerpt

"Jazz artists hold a place of special importance in my view of local music, and the continuing production of only a handful of commercially released albums—Chantal Esdelle & Moyenne, Clifford Charles, the Ming-produced TriniJazz Project, Theron Shaw, Pedro Lezama—does not create significant impact for industry growth but acts as a statistical indicator and marketing tool for a buying public of live music as well.


The concert and festival scene saw increased numbers at shows, increased events showcasing Caribbean jazz artists (the return of Shades of Vaughnette, an All Star tribute to Ralph MacDonald, Eat Drink Jazz), and an increase of ticket prices for the Tobago Jazz Experience coupled with the “concept of the fence.” The near-completion of the multi-seat Shaw Park Entertainment complex may ease the logistical problems that the over-subscribed beach location exhibited in April 2014. Despite these factors, jazz artistes still validly complain about the burden that the small economies of scale here has on their careers. That cabal of musicians must continue the symbiotic relationship with its audience here..."
—Excerpt from "2014: Another Year in Music. © 2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved."
To read the full article, click here >>

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

What a Saturday night…Jazz! Song! Performance! Fête!

Oh Lawd! Wat a night! Wat a night!
What a Saturday night!
Oh Lawd! Wat a night! Wat a night!
What a Saturday night!
—"Linstead Market". Lyrics according to Walter Jekyll's 1907 book, Jamaican Song and Story

A busy Saturday night it was. Cool and dry, thank God. The 15th of November was busy with the simultaneity of entertainment options for the like minded.
Jazz! Song! Performance! Fête!
An inspiration. A revelation. An investigation. A celebratory coda.


I: Chantal's Vision

Chantal Esdelle is doing what few others have dared to try by launching a jazz studio—a home cum studio for creativity and improvisation—in her grandmother's home. The jazz salon is alive. I remember the Boothmans—Mike, David, Roger, Pops—had private jazz salons in their home. An effort to bring a select audience into direct contact with the creative energy of the local jazz musician is an inspired endeavour. The jam session, "the jazzman's true academy" according to writer Ralph Ellison, was being allowed to take root again after a few years of stasis. It serves as the jazz equivalent of networking events and that aspect is wanted if we are to build a viable industry beyond simple talent.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Shades of Vaughnette III: Milestones - a review¹

Resplendent, as always, in the couture of southern design team, Zadd & Eastman, Vaughnette Bigford made a successful return to her annual concert series, Shades of Vaughnette, at the Sundar Popo Theatre at the NAPA South Campus in San Fernando after a two-year break for the recency of motherhood. With a mix of local and jazz/R&B covers, Bigford reclaimed her status of the premier jazz stylist in these islands whose palette knows no geographic boundaries. She is well known for handling the American jazz songbook, international hits in many languages, and especially for her take on the local song catalogue and suffusing these tunes with the dissonant harmonic tones of jazz. And that night, Saturday November 8, she did not disappoint.

This year’s show, the third in the series and subtitled Milestones to celebrate a decade as a professional performer follows a pattern of expanding the local audiences' understanding and appreciation of a global repertoire of songs, and reinforcing the idea that the local song—whether it is calypso, soca or island pop—can become a celebratory anthem beyond a narrow Carnival season cycle that predominates the industry. Opening the show with a nod to American jazz singer Carmen Lundy with a cover of her hit “Wild Child”, Bigford soon engaged the senses with a phonetically accurate reading of French chanteuse Annick Tangorra’s “Lolita Fleur Creole.” Language is not a barrier for the appreciation of great songcraft.