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.

Dateline: Sunday, 21 April 2019
Headline: Saint Lucia Jazz goes back to jazz

“IN the southern Caribbean, in the last few months of the dry season there is a burgeoning of outdoor music events locally that bear the brand “jazz festival.” From May 4 – 12, 2019, the big daddy of them all, Saint Lucia Jazz — part of the Saint Lucia Summer Festival from May to October — returns with a new partnership with New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Centre (JALC) that can prove to be a magnet for “pure jazz” lovers, and for fans of an experience that transcends simple island insularities and becomes a Caribbean festival of great music.

“The JALC partnership has yielded a list of artists for the festival that reads like a who’s who of modern jazz, creole jazz, and Caribbean jazz. It boasts a cast including multiple Grammy winners and enough Caribbean artists to satisfy proud island nativists…”

Dateline: Sunday, 12 May 2019 
Headline: Saint Lucia Jazz heads down a new path 

“A transformed Saint Lucia Jazz Festival started in earnest in new locations on the island on Thursday to moderately-sized, intimate audiences, as the organisers have reckoned that the money spent in past festivals would be better spent on ‘keeping it real.’

“With a full programme curated by festival collaborator Jazz at Lincoln Centre (JALC), featuring daily overlapping events, choice becomes a luxury. Day one starred young artists from St Lucia and the Caribbean diaspora, performing in two locations that allowed for unique perspectives on modern jazz…” 

Dateline: Monday, 13 May, 2019 
Headline: Saint Lucia Jazz: From the crucible to the creole 

“ON Friday, the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival shows featured music that acknowledged jazz music’s past while showcasing modern innovations and fusions that jazz has made as it spreads throughout the Caribbean diaspora.

“At the two featured venues – the Ramp on Rodney Bay, oriented in a theatre style for just over 300 patrons, and the Gros Islet Park with cabaret-style seating for about 160 – Jazz at Lincoln Center programmed New Orleans traditional jazz, early Harlem blues and jazz, the eternal presence of St Lucian jazz icon Boo Hinkson, and the creole soul of Etienne Charles…” 

Dateline: Friday, 17 May, 2019 
Headline: A cut above the rest: Saint Lucia Jazz 2019

“IN the final days of the 2019 Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, produced in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) of New York, what became clear were not only the differences from previous editions of the festival, but the demarcation that places this event on another level from the other jazz festivals in the English-speaking Caribbean.

“Not that there are many remaining, but certainly in TT one can see how the celebratory tendencies of local people render null and void any drive towards excellence. Objective measures of good and bad and subjective criticism of mediocrity should not be thrown away in reading the pulse of this reframed festival…” 

© 2019, Nigel A. Campbell All Rights Reserved.