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.
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.