Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Island Jazz Chat - Episode 6: Michael Boothman

Michael Boothman is the personification of excellence in the arts in Trinidad and Tobago. Pioneering, innovative and consistently successful as a performer, composer, arranger and recording artist, Boothman continues his 50-plus year career that showcases a number of firsts and milestones in the development of modern music in Trinidad and Tobago. He discusses his kysofusion innovation, and chats about his career from his teenage combo years through to his label deal with the Clarence Avant helmed Tabu Records for his Heaven album. His new move into label ownership and new production has resulted in an upcoming album in 2021. Audio courtesy iRADIO.tt

  • Programme Date: 22 June 2021
  • Programme Length: 01:42:27

Friday, 1 January 2021

Playlist (January/February 2021) | Music reviews

Bridges Jesse Ryan

(Fwé Culture)

As world fusion in jazz continually moves one away from the primary centre defined by the blues and swing, global musicians take up the challenge of improvisation over a sonic bed of native and ethnic rhythms and melodies. Jesse Ryan, a Trinidad-born saxophonist now based in Canada, joins a group of Caribbean musicians seeking ways to successfully commercialise the “West Indian accent in jazz.” On half of Bridges, his debut album, he explores the rhythmic pulse of Tobago’s native tambrin band music. Modern jazz interpolation with the sound of the tambourine drum creates a soundscape for another interpretation of New World African music. With a subdued sound mix, sublime conversations between guitar, piano, sax, and percussion become epic in intention, effective in interpretation. This brilliant album, three years in the making, is an opening statement of a new jazz artist in the diaspora reconnecting with his roots to seal the idea of Caribbean music beyond a dance accompaniment.


Viento y Tiempo: Live at Blue Note Tokyo Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Aymée Nuviola

(Top Stop Music)

Cuba is an enigma for many travellers in the Americas. Its music salvages its imposed reputation as an outlier. Performance and its recording in global cities fortify a notion, widely recognised in the Caribbean, of the supremacy of the canon and artistry of Cuban musicians. Afro-Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and singer Aymée Nuviola, “La Sonera del Mundo” — both Grammy winners — performing before an audience in Japan, offer “a tribute to the music that flows through the streets of Havana which we grew up with.” Rumba and jazz, classic son montunos and danzonetes, boleros and ballads, and other tropical rhythms are mixed with call and response singing, jazz improvisation, percussive breaks, and dynamic piano playing to recorded elation from a Tokyo crowd. The collaboration of these childhood friends, and others, suggests Cuba’s musical history is manifestly rich.

  1. These reviews appear in the January/February 2021 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2021, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 5 - Reginald Cyntje

Jazz trombonist, Reginald Cyntje is the ultimate Caribbean jazz musician. Born in Dominica, raised in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, of Curaçaoan heritage, he is the epitome of a Caribbean musician making it in the United States. With the release of his sixth album, Healing, Reginald chats with us on this album and his previous albums' development, and his growth as an artist and a jazz teacher.  Audio courtesy iRADIO.tt

  • Programme Date: 16 November 2020
  • Programme Length: 01:17:24

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Playlist (November/December 2020) | Music reviews

Source Nubya Garcia

(Concord Jazz)

Caribbean migrations have birthed new generations of creatives, challenging definitions of music in their new homelands. Nubya Garcia is the daughter of Trinidadian and Guyanese parents, and with this heritage the UK-born and -based jazz saxophonist has marked her musical space there with equal parts nature, nurture, and nostalgia. Her new record Source, her first full-length album, plays between the innovative soundscapes of the contemporary British jazz scene and a look back to influences that echo the Caribbean and transplanted African music, as captured by children of the diaspora. The controlled tone of her tenor sax dances through dub on “Source”, and splashes up against Afro-Columbian rhythmic elements on “La cumbia me está llamando” without ever being discordant. On “Before Us: In Demerara & Cuara”, one hears that calypso bass modernised and influencing a new jazz exploration beyond boundaries. Garcia is finding the centre in a world of influences.


Vini Bien Raise

(3M-Mizik Moun Matinik)

Martniquan singer Tony Chasseur calls his music kréyol djaz (creole jazz in its native form): “jazz coming from creole lands in all parts of the globe using the rhythms endemic to each land as a rhythmic base, whatever the level of harmonic elaboration and improvisation.” This reorientation of the jazz aesthetic away from the US is heartening in our Caribbean space. Raise is the new supergroup of Antillean music stars: along with Chasseur are Ronald Tulle on piano, Michel Alibo on bass, Thomas Belon on drums, and Alain Dracius on percussion. Sublime musicianship by all five guides the listener to places where the primacy of zouk and other Caribbean rhythms creates an elegant counterpoint to modern soul-jazz music. There are songs to make you dance on this album, and there are songs to make you sing along, even if kréyol is not your primary language. Tulle’s playing shines here on tracks like “Dous O Péyi”, while Chasseur’s voice has the tone that keeps listeners attached to the sound.

  1. These reviews appear in the November/December 2020 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2020, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Playlist (September/October 2020) | Music reviews

Soné Ka-La 2 Odyssey Jacques Schwarz-Bart

(Enja Records)

“As long as I can remember, there was always gwoka and jazz music in my life,” says Guadeloupean saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart. Gwoka drums are the basis of that island’s folk music, and on his new album Schwarz-Bart has fused the language of jazz with those native rhythms to forge a new aesthetic for the Antillean musician. This sequel to his original 2005 album updates that initial intent of making gwoka jazz a defining moment, and completes the journey of discovery that happens after fifteen years of travelling and playing music all over the world, and knowing one’s place in it. Voice (Malika Tirolien) and sax juxtapose to shine melodically over gwoka drum rhythms and harmonic dissonances provided by premier fellow Antillean jazz stars Grégory Privat, Arnaud Dolmen, Sonny Troupé, and American bassist Reggie Washington. Improvisation in the context of an Afro-Caribbean pulse long eschewed in modern jazz is a refreshing return to the centre.


  1. This review appears in the September/October 2020 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2020, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Playlist (July/August 2020) | Music reviews

Mi Mundo Solo Piano Jany McPherson

(Jazzit Records)

The solo piano album is an artistic statement of both skill and patience. Melody, harmony, and rhythm, the basic elements of music, are all brought to life by ten fingers, two hands. France-based Cuban pianist Janysett McPherson has produced a sublime piece of work that unfolds with a sense of understanding her space as a transplant from the Caribbean to the European metropole. Sonic references to a kind of pastoral vision blend with percussive jaunts that locate the heat of island tempos within a world wider than this archipelago. A cover of Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso theme song has McPherson exploring dissonance, but her right hand’s melodic lines gird the beautiful melody with a pathos that is reflected in the nostalgic theme of the movie. Caribbean musicians — Michel Camilo and Monty Alexander, for example — have long used the solo piano as a platform for musical identity. Mi Mundo, “My World,” showcases an awe-inspiring globetrotting musician.he album represents continued mastery of technique and dynamics on the piano, and a full understanding of the Creole perspective. There is a sense of experimentation on this record, pointing to the idea that this music can be catharsis and spiritual haven: jazz illuminated and elevated.


  1. This review appears in the July/August 2020 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2020, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Saint Lucia Jazz 2019 – a review series

One year ago, I travelled to Saint Lucia to cover the Jazz Festival there. (Thank you Saint Lucia Tourism, Christopher Gustave, Geraine Georges, Events Saint Lucia.) In 2020, COVID-19 effectively cancelled the event, and all remaining festivals on that island. At this time, all I can do is remember. This series of reviews of the 2019 edition of Saint Lucia Jazz was first published in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday. Thank you Judy Raymond, and thank you Andrea De Silva for the photos to accompany the reviews.