Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Caribbean Beat Caribbean Playlist - September/October 2015ª

Spiritual Awakening Reginald Cyntje
(Self Released)

Trombonist Reginald Cyntje (pronounced SIN-chee), born in Dominica, raised in St. Thomas USVI, and now living in Washington DC released his fourth album as a leader, Spiritual Awakening as a continuation of his reflection on the abstractions of human existence via jazz music. The album has been described as one that “musically embodies humanity’s complex journey from introspection to a celebration of freedom.” With titles that evoke personal declarations that sometimes touch on the religious, “Atonement”, “Beatitudes”, “Prayer”, “Ritual”, this album of nine tunes should not be construed as instrumental gospel, but a refinement of the evolving journey of this Caribbean jazzman towards a sophisticated veneration. With the wordless singing by Christie Dashiell juxtaposing effectively, this album is also a spotlight for the instrumental brilliance of soloists Allyn Johnson on piano and Victor Provost on steelpan, and Cyntje himself, never completely abandoning that Caribbean-ness in the groove. Jazz in the islands has moved a step ahead.

buy-amazon  itunes-buy

  1. More Caribbean Playlist reviews appear in the September/October 2015 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Caribbean Beat Reviews - July/August 2015ª

St. Thomas Dion Parson & 21st Century Band

Drummer Dion Parson from St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands has gathered a cadre of cohorts, fellow islanders now mostly based in New York, to re-chart the music of that island group and the wider Caribbean on their new album St Thomas. Jazz stars in their own right, bassist Reuben Rogers, pannist Victor Provost, trumpeter Rashawn Ross, and saxophonist Ron Blake (among others) join Parson in his 21st Century Band to cover a couple of island standards and define a new VI jazz sound. The title track, an old calypso made famous by island descendent Sonny Rollins, is given a new sheen with rhythms untested by the jazz master many years ago. Covering Bob Marley, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis, and providing some originals, the band uses native music forms like quelbe and broader reggae and calypso rhythms to transform the sound of Caribbean jazz into a fusion that points to a new direction.

buy-amazon  itunes-buy

Groovy Love Thing Robert "Dubwise" Browne

Guitarist Robert Browne delivers on the traditional smooth jazz output of modern Caribbean musicians by putting his electric guitar front and centre to assay the landscape of easy listening options. His is a sound and tone that can easily make fans of diehard purists. As the title of his new album suggests, the groove is solid on this set of ten instrumental tracks. The range of moods on this album spans from upbeat to contemplative. A compilation of popular Jamaican reggae songs from the past decade — including fellow Jamaican Tessanne Chin’s hit “Hideaway” and Maxi Priest’s “Close To You”, among others — gives this album an appeal that is nurtured by solid musicianship and quality production. Browne, who was the guitarist for dancehall crossover star Shaggy for a number of years, recently branched out on his own to pursue a solo career. This debut is a feather in his cap.

buy-amazon  itunes-buy

  1. More Caribbean Playlist reviews appear in theJuly/August 2015 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

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.


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.

buy-amazon  itunes-buy

  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.


  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 >>