Thursday, 6 January 2022

Clive ‘Zanda’ Alexander (1939 – 2022) — a Tribute²

clive zanda albums


An edited version of this article appeared in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday on 11 January 2022 as "Zanda’s legacy for the ages"

Six days into 2022, and we as a nation have lost two calypsonians of different generations who added to the canon at opposite ends of the season, one founding man-of-words who gave the rapso movement flight and permanence, and now this. Clive ‘Zanda’ Alexander passed early this morning, and with his passing, our music universe here in T&T got significantly smaller. Not necessarily because his recorded output would salvage the otherwise discarded memories of our islands’ music heritage, but because his passing signals a deflation of the idea that our creative industries will save us from the hell that is a post-COVID recovery. Zanda represented legacy, which in these isles is abandoned like a costume on Carnival Tuesday or a soca tune from a year before.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Playlist (November/December 2021) | Music reviewsª

Songbook, Vol. 1 Michael Boothman

(Poui Tree Records)

Nostalgia is making a comeback: the Rolling Stones and Genesis will tour stadiums next year, and Paul McCartney and ABBA have new albums in 2021. In the Caribbean, kysofusion pioneer Michael Boothman from Trinidad is back with a bang. Boothman is an elder statesman on the regional music scene, with international standing and a professional music career spanning six decades. The appearance of a new full-length album after a gap of some years is a happy revelation that signals his creative juices are still flowing. Songbook, Vol. 1 points to the idea that this is a first step on a new journey, a fresh awakening of the Boothman oeuvre with rearrangements of classics from the 1970s like “Saying It With Music” and “Mystic Sea”, and many new songs. This album is a showcase of fine songcraft, sophisticated musical ideas, and a kind of independent production value that understands that, as audiences mature, quality never dissipates.

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  1. This review appears in the November/December 2021 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2021, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

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

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Playlist (May/June 2021) | Music reviewsª

The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running For Their Lives Anthony Joseph

(Heavenly Sweetness Records)

Creole griot and poet Anthony Joseph, self-described Black surrealist, on this album directly and subliminally namechecks Caribbean literary pioneers — Sam Selvon, Kamau Brathwaite, C.L.R. James, Anthony McNeill — as a celebration of many island lives. Rising cadences on fiery recitations say “listen to this,” revealing a Caribbean literary heritage married to music evolved in its evocation. This is not the poetry of protest, but a dissertation for the diaspora. The new UK jazz heroes — Shabaka Hutchings, Jason Yarde, et al — give the music here more urgency than a Congo Square memory, more variety than the blues, altogether re-framing Joseph’s words beyond the “bluesology” of Gil Scott-Heron and the dub poetry of Linton Kwesi Johnson. The frenetic swing of “Language” balances the dub rhythm of “Maka Dimwe”. Confident, eloquent — a new classic.

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

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.

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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.
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  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 & Caura”, one hears that calypso bass modernised and influencing a new jazz exploration beyond boundaries. Garcia is finding the centre in a world of influences.

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