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.

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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.

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.

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  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.

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  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.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Three Island Songbirds: The Trinidad Edition

Courtesy Caribbean Beat magazine. An MEP publication
Islands in the Caribbean have been fertile spaces for the evolution of global talent. Caribbean music has played a major role in the development of popular music worldwide, and the building blocks of those island music industries must be the singers and musicians who make all this music. Female singers of pedigree have been spotted in these islands and have used their skill to carve out careers in the world, with varying success. Tony Award winner Heather Headley from Trinidad, and Barbados-bred superstar Rihanna easily come to mind as artists who were incubated in the islands to grow and succeed in the rest of the world.

Peculiar to Trinidad and Tobago is the yearning to be something different. The idea of being a globally popular soca singer has a grip on many female singers there, but there is an equally persistent belief that singing genres outside of the circumscribed diaspora Carnival circuit would pay greater dividends in the long run. As an aside, Calypso Rose’s six-decade career in calypso with accolades still accruing, however, is noticeably not seen as a signpost for modern success for some, but there are others who see her career as inspiration.

Playlist (March/April 2020) | Music reviews

SOLEY Grégory Privat

(Buddham Jazz)

Martiniquan pianist Grégory Privat continues his elegant exploration of Creole jazz with this follow-up to his recent album Family Tree. This new album of trio music, with collaborators Canadian Chris Jennings on double bass and fellow Martiniquan Tilo Bertholo on drums, sparkles with a new energy, as it incorporates electronics and allows Privat the opportunity to sing. Fifteen tracks draw on the richness of Creole jazz heritage in the French Antilles, and juxtapose those aesthetic elements with sounds that can only exist in a synthetic medium, to enrich the band’s playing. Privat tells us that SOLEY is “a concept of Spirituality, Optimism, Light, and Energy (coming to) You.” The 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.

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