Tuesday, 1 July 2014
Friday, 16 May 2014
Led by trumpeter, Etienne Charles, this aggregation of superstars of jazz included multiple Grammy award winner Marcus Miller on bass guitar, Buddy Williams, one of the most recorded drummers of all time, pannist extraordinaire Robert Greenidge along with other MacDonald album alumnae, vocalists Nadirah Shakoor and Dennis Collins, Barbadian stars Arturo Tappin on tenor saxophone and Nicholas Branker on keyboards, and Charles’ Creole Soul band mates Alex Wintz and Kris Bowers on guitar and keyboards respectively.
The most significant inclusion in this All Star grouping was Gary Fritz, MacDonald’s cousin who had the joyous responsibility of recreating the percussion parts that audiences have grown accustomed to over the years from MacDonald. The classic “Jam on the Groove” has a percussion break that utilized toy hammers that exemplified how the mundane can become extraordinary in the hands of a master. For the disco hit, “Calypso Breakdown,” MacDonald’s son Atiba joined the All Stars to play the iron and enhance the “engine room” to joyous ovation. At that point the rains came down, but the magic lingered.
Monday, 6 January 2014
"Chantal Esdelle, a Berklee College of Music graduate, holds an important place among jazz musicians here, as she is one of, if not the only female band leader who is a renowned pianist in this island. She is part of a lineage that would probably include Winifred Atwell and tangentially Hazel Scott. Unlike those two artistes, Esdelle has been able to mine the musical influences of Trinidad and in a deeper sense, Africa and the African diaspora in the New World for her compositions. Further, unlike Atwell and Scott, Esdelle has a body of original compositions on her two CD releases that now place her ahead of a number of jazz luminaries in the islands who still balk at releasing original music, thus diluting the well of local copyrights to be exploited by the world..."
The above quoted epigraph was from an aborted review of the CD launch event for Imbizo Moyenne. the new CD from Chantal Esdelle and Moyenne, back in May 2013. The sentiment, however, is an absolute truth. There is no denying that Esdelle, and by extension Moyenne deserve to be heard, more so in our context as a burgeoning music industry. Time has allowed the disappointment of that release event to be replaced with the joy in heralding this new music. Out now in CD format to supplement the digital version already available in limited release, this simply packaged CD fills a yawning gap in the canon of locally-released jazz music.
Friday, 6 December 2013
Delivering two sold-out shows on that weekend, it became obvious that this venue is too small for the natural local audience of this globe-trotting musician. After forty-plus international performances in support of his latest CD Creole Soul, Charles again raises the bar for local musicians to go over, and continues to serve as an apt inspiration of desired goals.
Tuesday, 26 November 2013
Liner notes for élan parlē’s 2013 CD, I Am Élan Parlē
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Admitting that this was the first “full concert” in seven years, the band with a new line-up of players delivered on the promise of one explosive night of Caribbean jazz fusion. Culling compositions from his publishing catalogue going back to the debut CD, “Tribal Voices” in 2000, Ming commanded an ensemble of seasoned “young lion” musicians to play with the easy elegance that defines the Élan Parlé sound.
The band, with Ming on keyboards anchored by bassist Rodney Alexander, percussionist Modupe Onilu and long-time drummer Richard Joseph, allowed guitarist Dean Williams and woodwind specialist Anthony Woodroffe, Jr. to solo and improvise on the many compositions that celebrate a kind of Caribbean aesthetic that is both global in its sound and interpretation and original to its roots in the music and rhythms of this region. When Williams and Woodroffe were “trading fours” (alternate brief solos back and forth over the same music segment) on “Are We Grooving Yet?” there was much joy and ovation. We in the Caribbean know how to enjoy ourselves, and this music provided an apt soundtrack to the evening's merriment. The leap of faith by the performer that this audience would “get it” was confirmed.
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
John John debuts as the local poster boy for neo-soul singers with his first album Citagrandson on Highway Records. The self-penned 12 tracks on this CD paint the picture of a young man discovering his true self and exploring his longings. “Let’s Make Music” is brutally frank about his desires: “...take off those clothes/make 10 toes 20, your chakras exposed.”
Production values that look to the larger world for validation, excellently highlighting John John’s slinky voice to effect, are keys that the label and artist can depend on for making that international breakthrough.
- This review appeared in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian as part of the article, "Music from John John: T&T’S SOUL"