This jam inspired this writer to give a running commentary on Facebook via Twitter to one of the fans who is abroad. As I tweeted that night,
Tony Paul plays the saxophone like someone with many more years experience than he is alive! He has no equal locally. Period! I heard Dean Williams use his effects board to give a new voice to the sound of jazz guitar. Derron Ellies on an un-chromed tenor pan was a revelation to me as a rhythmic improviser, as was the improved dexterity of Kern Sumerville. On Coltrane's "Impressions" I tweeted,
"Peter Noel playing 6 string bass like it have no tomorrow! @Karl throw in a junkanoo rhythm. Interpolation of "Every Time Ah Pass", now Hosay [rhythm] in the jazz. Let others only contemplate!"It was fun! Jazz has to be fun. We, in the Caribbean are fun people, and this worked in a number of contexts. One master jazz musician in the house grudgingly said the set "was great, if a bit loud and long." Karl's penchant to ramble on after the implied song finish seemed to have ticked off Tony Paul, but the audience lapped it up, either unknowing of the musical breaches or just happy to be entertained! For Karl, rhythm is king.
Karl's invention and fusion of funky Caribbean rhythms remind me of the acid jazz experiments of pioneers in the UK like the Brand New Heavies and Incognito. This music played that night is a category of its own, sui generis. Dynamic musical changes of genres are hoped for in generations. This is good stuff. I have posited that jazz in the Caribbean has never been about the aping of the American music performance. Recorded pioneers from John Buddy Williams, Rupert Clemendore (Le Jazz Primitif) to as far back as Lionel Belasco have sought not to be mimic men, but to be Caribbean artists. Our arts and culture in the Caribbean has always been about reinterpretation, and fusion. The languages of Kwéyòl and Papiamentu, the dances of Rex Nettleford, Beryl McBurnie and Astor Johnson, the music of Lancelot Layne, Brother Resistance (rapso) or Shorty, Pelham Goddard with Maestro (soca) have been about taking music, art and culture outside the box and seeking possibilities. A newspaper critic of the recent Jazz Artists on the Greens questioned "Where's the Jazz?" That rhetorical question, whether nudged along by competitive alignment with "purists" or by naiveté, ignores the overarching quest of musicians here for generations to fill the psychological void left by colonialism with their version of the "new." It also contemplates that definitions and templates are static. The sting of the critical voice does not alter facts here, or more critically, sell or un-sell tickets. Karl tells me that he just wants the "event by itself to build an audience." I am sure it will. This is action speaking louder than words!
Lenny Grant questioned me at another event recently, viz. "When did this jazz renaissance in Trinidad begin?" To which I replied, "You should be happy. It's always been here." I am happy. The notion that all of a sudden there is a jazz this and a jazz that is a product of new marketing opportunities. The idea of putting the word jazz together with anything is now in vogue—"a Jazz brunch," a "Wine and Jazz Evening," et al. It is a marketing phrase that relates to an apparent upscale event for a more mature set; it is not a jam session. The irony of that coupling in this instance was laid bare by the meanderings and wanderings of this bunch of talented young musicians in an upscale venue catering to a young audience who got it! The pockets of musical experimentation guided by a jazz vibe are coming to the fore. Musical entrepreneurs like Karl and Jean-Marc are the new generation using the new tools of social networking to spread the word that there is music here.
Karl Doyle: a musician, a music entrepreneur, a brand new heavy! Keep your head up, and the rhythm going.