Wednesday 14 December 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 15 - Richard Bailey

Richard Bailey, born in Guyana (then British Guiana), raised in Trinidad, and long resident in England, is the go-to drummer for major recording and touring artists in the UK since the 1970s. Jamming and recording with the likes of Jeff Beck and Bob Marley as a teenager, Bailey was a pivotal member of the new generation of musicians who forged a funky and jazzy new direction for British music from the 1970s onwards that reflected the rhythmic influences from the former colonies in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. His bands Batti Mamzelle and The Breakfast Band, as well as his contributions to the groups Gonzalez, Incognito, and Citrus Sun lead to solo recording work that cements the Caribbean contribution to UK acid jazz and evolves kaisojazz and Caribbean jazz towards a universal recognition at the turn of the century. Thu, 1 Dec 2022
  • Programme Date: 1 December 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:23:50

Sunday 4 December 2022

A Coda before Christmas – A Celebration of Us

Someone chook meh for my impressions of Vaughnette Bigford's latest musical project, “RWB: A Celebration Of Us, last night at the Central Bank Auditorium: “Oh God, yuh know you and dem words nah.” I won’t be long.

Last night was necessary. It was a coda alright, but also the re-opening of our live engagement with quality, our communal face-to-face and tangible expressions of joy before the seasons of celebration where brio and bacchanal reign.

Class is class, we know that. When you have the best musicians on the island arranging and playing, and intelligence brimming from the mind of the Creole Chanteuse, you know it’s not just a succession of local songs that sometimes linger in our memories, but an investigation and revelation of the possibilities of that catalogue of Trinidad and Tobago songs that sometimes thrives here and there, or sometimes remains desolate at the bottom of the barrel of commercial appeal in these islands. It’s hard here for a songwriter; a seasonal approval, or a permanent neglect for the next new fad from Trinidad, the new tourist leggo from Tobago. The local ebb and flow of appreciation and demand is constant.

Vaughnette brought back some nuggets from an era when local musicians were battling for appreciation from foreign taste-makers, media programmers and record labels, to make it, and sometimes winning. Some migrated, many stayed and worked a system that either rewards or discards. Vaughnette brought those songs back to life. Ming (Michael Low Chew Tung), Theron Shaw and Rodney Alexander worked their magic to make them brand new for older fans, and intriguing for new acolytes to the majesty of the local songbook.

The production was near flawless. One can niggle over misspellings of artiste credits or perceived emotional disconnect during a song, but as a package, Vaughnette has set the standard for singer showcase concerts. We know that, but there was more. “Born to Shine” met “Born to Shine”: Carol Addison, the original singer, was present for Vaughnette Bigford in her space. That is huge. Roger Bonair-Agard's griot vibrations made New World African citizens, and everybody else who have ears to hear, say yes: Pan is ours, pan is Black. “We declare by the Orishas that the oil drum is Ogun’s…We declare pan, Sacred and Black!” Ray Holman strummed a guitar to recover precious local memories from two generations ago, a living lyrical portrait of us. The bhangra/soca mashup with urban Qawwali song styling of Neval Chatelal is us. The rock and roll, the reggae, the kaisojazz, the calypso, soca and elevated island pop music is us. It’s all of us. "RWB: A Celebration of Us" delivered a reminder, that we are not circumscribed by narrow ideas of who we are or can be.

As we move into 2023, let’s hope that we can continue to commercially validate what she presents, much like we did this year, and in 2021, during those windows of COVID-19 relief for gatherings. This tribe, this fandom looks to brighter things as we reclaim what we own, what we sing and play, what and who we are. The celebration continues.

I’ll leave it there for now. More in my mind, but not in my pen.

© 2022, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Friday 23 September 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 14 - Chantal Esdelle

Trinidadian composer and educator Chantal Esdelle, a Berklee College of Music graduate, holds an important place among jazz musicians in the islands, as she is one of, if not the only female band leader who is a renowned pianist there. A multifaceted individual — performer, producer, promoter — who has, since 2000, released two albums as leader with her band Moyenne, and produced another pair of live compilation albums, all on her Ethnic Jazz Club label, Esdelle has put into the wider public domain, music guided by her understanding of the African experience in the Americas that challenges Caribbean people's notion of identity, and clarifies what it means to be a New World African. Her extensive pan-Caribbean music connections serve to define "ethnic jazz" as a new standard for engagement and exchange in jazz. She chats about being and doing. Fri, 23 Sep 2022
  • Programme Date: 23 September 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:30:13

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 13 - Andy Narell

Andy Narell, globe-trotting and pioneering steelpan jazz musician, composer and arranger chats about his beginnings in the world of steelpan in the 1960s, and the evolution of the sound that he is leading in the 2020s with a new sample library of steelpan instruments created by the legendary master tuner Ellie Mannette. And everything in between. From the West Coast of America to Trinidad to South Africa, to the French Antilles and Japan, the Narell sound and music is a standard for many on how the business of steelpan jazz performance and recording operates. Caribbean and Latin American rhythms, African pulses, post bop references all colour his music, and with a prolific output of recordings, steelpan jazz is part of the global jazz conversation Wed, 21 Sep 2022

  • Programme Date: 21 September 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:31:10

Thursday 1 September 2022

Playlist (September/October 2022) | Music Reviewsª

Girl In The Yard  Joy Lapps

(Self released)

Joy Lapps Girl in the Yard cover
Steelpan music recordings are back. Toronto native of Antiguan descent Joy Lapps is providing a new engagement with the steelpan that is welcome after the dearth of new material for the instrument in the last few years. On this new album, her fifth since her recording career began in 2006, one hears the development of a broader palette and range of musical environments in which the steelpan is placed. One hears rhythms and sounds on these originals that are part of the multicultural milieu of her Toronto situation: metropolitan motifs mimicking a Caribbean presence, latent Latin American vibes, searing electric guitars, and sterling musicianship. One hears Andy Narell’s melodic template on “Josie’s Smile”, including cuatro and bottle and spoon in a vintage Caribbean soundscape; as a bonus, he solos here. Lapps’ presence as a female leader on a steelpan recording is rare, trendsetting and welcomed. Her story. Our joy.

  1. This review appears in the September/October 2022 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2022, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 12 - Victor Provost

Victor Provost, from St John, USVI, has been variously described as a "rising steelpan master...whose refreshing melodic approach to soloing on the pan is wholly steeped in the jazz tradition," and "living proof of the nuance and versatility of the [steelpan]." In this chat, Victor discusses his beginnings, his influences and the practicality and privilege of "being in the right place at the right time" to develop both a performing and recording career that continues to build receptive audiences. Solo albums, collaborations and featured sideman duties over a two decade professional career are explored. Sun, 28 Aug 2022

  • Programme Date: 28 August 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:58:10

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 11 - Annise Hadeed

Panman, steelpan virtuoso, steeldrum musician. Just don't call Annise 'Halfers' Hadeed a "pannist". He is more than that! This important musician and recording artist from Trinidad and Tobago, now resident in the U.K., has been blazing a trail in the jazz scene there, as well as contributing significantly to the Caribbean presence there as an award winning steelband arranger. He made his recording debut in the 1980s with The Breakfast Band, and recorded, toured and performed widely in the U.K. & Europe, the US, and the Caribbean, as part of a new wave of Caribbean jazz talent, reinforcing the work of pioneer kaisojazz musicians like Clive Zanda and Russell Henderson, and moving the music forward with important collaborations that put the steelpan at the forefront of a new jazz aesthetic. 

  • Programme Date: 10 August 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:32:28

Friday 5 August 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 10 - Cameron Pierre

Guitarist Cameron Pierre has come full circle returning to his native Dominica after a multi-decade recording and performing career in the UK. After establishing an important Caribbean jazz presence there, with six albums produced, he reflects on the journey to this point. Beginning in the reggae scene here in the islands and into the UK, his evolution towards jazz through the 1980s and beyond traces a parallel development of how the Caribbean musical DNA has influenced the society there. Photo by Jonathan Trotman.

  • Programme Date: 5 August 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:26:58

Thursday 28 July 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 9 - Theron Shaw

Reticent. Diffident. Two words to describe the personality of guitarist Theron Shaw of Trinidad and Tobago. Another pair of apt adjectives would be determined and inventive. In a revealing conversation, we get into what made Shaw the popular choice for the islands' premier jazz guitarist. Three acclaimed albums, years of touring and working at defining for a new generation what the essence of kaisojazz is and can be for that demographic are hallmarks that are explored and revealed.

  • Programme Date: 28 July 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:20:25

Friday 22 July 2022

Island Jazz Chat: Episode 8 - Clifford Charles

Trinidadian guitarist Clifford Charles describes his music as "smooth soca jazz." Grounded in the sounds and language of Trinidad, his liking for transforming the music of Carnival, the popular sound of Trinidad, into a contemporary jazz idiom sets him apart from other Caribbean jazz guitarists. With 5 albums under his belt, and counting, since 2004, this fan favourite prepares for a new path in life as he will have the time to make the familiar new again, with a vibe that says Caribbean smooth. Clifford Charles talks about his life, his music, his recording career, the future.

  • Programme Date: 20 July, 2022
  • Programme Length: 00:45:29

Friday 1 July 2022

Playlist (July/August 2022) | Music Reviewsª

Herencia Criolla  Josean Jacobo

(Self released)

Pianist Josean Jacobo says: “I take the folkloric idioms, our traditional culture, African-Dominican heritage, and I blend it with contemporary jazz in a trio setting.” That statement aptly describes his new album, but does not convey the extent of the rhythmic impact one can hear. Bachata and merengue pulses cement a new island jazz aesthetic.

  1. This review appears in the July/August 2022 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2022, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Island Jazz Chat - Episode 7: John Arnold

John Arnold is the pioneering musician, recording artist and jazz festival coordinator on the island of Tobago. As a recording artist, he has helmed half a dozen albums that play with the idea of Caribbean jazz as original music, including his latest, Jazz Standards in the Tambrin Sauce, which incorporates the Tobago-native tambrin drum family. This family of frame drums adds a unique colour and sonic identification to the music that begins a new vision to flavour improvised jazz with the sounds and rhythms of the Caribbean. As a jazz festival coordinator, he is responsible for the Tobago Jazz Experience that celebrated a decade of performances just before the pandemic began with some of the biggest stars in the jazz festival pantheon, and positions Tobago as a leader on the sustained Caribbean jazz festival circuit.

  • Programme Date: 14 June 2022
  • Programme Length: 01:13:32

Sunday 1 May 2022

Playlist (May/June 2022) | Music Reviewsª

Brighter Days Ahead Elan Trotman

(Island Muzik)

Bajan saxman Elan Trotman is a prolific musician who used the break from live performances during the pandemic to continue his creation of an unrivalled oeuvre of contemporary jazz music for the discerning masses. Enhanced by a host of featured guest performers, this album offers a Caribbean smooth instrumental soundtrack to a hopeful future.

Adjusting Arnaud Dolmen


Guadeloupean drummer Arnaud Dolmen says that this, his second album, is “about how we adapt and adjust … The unexpected should be a source of strength.” Within it, Kwéyòl jazz, Vodou lyricism, and native gwo ka drum rhythms mix with and influence instrumentation that echoes a Creole past, and points to new ways of assimilating. Antillean music evolved.

  1. These reviews appear in the May/June 2022 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2022, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Monday 4 April 2022

Meet the Artists Live Concert Series: Tony Paul celebrates Lord Kitchener and Ralph MacDonald


After the 2 year shutdown and restriction of the live music industry, Production One Ltd (POL) is returning to live music and jazz concert production. As the company prepares for the relaunch of its signature event, Jazz Artists on the Greens ™ in 2023, it introduces The Meet the Artists Live Concert Series. First up is Trinidadian saxophone jazz lion Tony Paul (Anthony Woodroffe, Jr.), in concert on Saturday, May 7, 2022 from 6:00 PM at the Queens Hall, St. Ann’s.

This popular, in-demand saxophonist and senior instructor of music at UTT-APA will perform two themed sets honouring and celebrating the music and legacies of two of Trinidad and Tobago’s greatest composers, Lord Kitchener and Ralph MacDonald. KITCH, A Centenary Celebration, is a recognition of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Grandmaster in 1922, and in this set, Tony Paul relives those tunes that made us jump and prance, and had steelbands singing; "Pan in Harmony", "Sugar Bum Bum", "Pan in A Minor", "Margie", and more. He notes that, “the difficult thing, sometimes, is to take something that people know so well and re-envision it in a way that people are not going to be like, ‘why did he do that?’ There’s really a lot to work with where Kitchener’s melodies and even the progressions. I’m really looking forward to it.” He adds, “connecting the traditional with the contemporary is one of the ideas I am playing with. In terms of the team, it’s a lot of really really excellent young musicians. So, it means that, as much as these are classic songs, we are able to use some of our youth — I’m probably like the oldest one in the ensemble — to connect it with a modern spin. I’m really excited about the arrangements, I’m really excited about working with these guys and girls.”

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Playlist (March/April 2022) | Music reviewsª

ALCOA Sessions  Charlie Halloran


Before quick airline travel to the sunny Caribbean was both utilitarian and a vital part of the tourism product, cruising from ports north to the islands was an adventure in itself that required patience and a tropical assimilation. Hailing from New Orleans, a kind of cultural Caribbean North Pole, Charlie Halloran has reimagined the zeitgeist of the era and recreated “the musical experience aboard cruises run by the Alcoa Steamship Co. out of New Orleans from 1949 to 1959.” A broad dance music repertoire from Trinidad, Guadeloupe, New Orleans, and Venezuela gives the listener an appreciation of what the Caribbean aesthetic sounded and looked like to foreign tourism execs. Calypso, beguine, and joropo are played energetically and well. The songs of Trinidadians Lionel Belasco and Pat Castagne are given new life as the idea of cruising “down to the Spanish main” becomes not so much a bygone dream, but a way of restoring majesty to local music.

  1. This review appears in the March/April 2022 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2022, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday 10 February 2022

Kitch @100: A Caribbean Jazz Perspective

2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of famous calypsonian, Lord Kitchener (Aldywn Roberts). This iconic calypsonian added expanded harmony to the language of calypso — along with double entendre lyrics — with his compositions becoming favourites among calypso jazz musicians. Listen to a Deezer playlist of some musicians who have engaged with the Grandmaster's music. Kaiso, kaiso!

Tuesday 25 January 2022

An Evening with VB: Exclusive ♥ Intimate ♥ Safe – a review


Vaughnette Bigford, VB. Very Beautiful, Vigorously Bold, Vivacious and Black. Melanin don’t lie. This was a Victory over the Blight of COVID-19. This was not necessarily an evening of firsts, this was a return to the stage she commanded back in November of 2011 with her first Shades of Vaughnette concert. This, however, felt like a gathering of the faithful. Or more accurately, a “re-gathering,” as faces became familiar to one who has gone to just about every concert the Creole Chanteuse has put on. (Beyond her “putting on” her concerts, this reviewer has built productions starring VB. The business of VB concerts is Valuable and Benefits the local creative economy.) We know her well. We bought all the tickets. We held them until it was time. Now is the time. Who is bucking the trend by having sold out shows when other people only want to give audiences a “Taste of..?” (Who Voted for that Bullshit?) 

Thursday 6 January 2022

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

clive zanda albums

Listen Here:

OR Read here:

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.

Saturday 1 January 2022

Playlist (January/February 2022) | Music reviewsª

Jazz Standards in the Tambrin Sauce John Arnold


The tambrin drum — a kind of frame drum similar to the Irish bodhrán and the Brazilian pandeiro — is indigenous to Tobago, and acts as that island’s sonic identification, as does the steelpan for Trinidad. On this new album, Tobago-born musician and keeper of the cultural flame, John Arnold, seeks a rhythmic basis and bedrock for the tambrin drum family — the cutter, (high pitch); the roller, (rhythm); and the boom, (bass) — outside of the island’s traditional festival and ceremonial dances. Six popular jazz standards are performed here, to find a new interpretation of how songs can swing when imbued with rhythms born in the islands. The indigenous reel and jig beat is used to give “Fly Me to the Moon” the “feel of the folk style.” This kind of attempted amalgamation of genres and sounds has a presence in jazz, and this experiment in fusion has merit. The conversation between cultures — jazz and tambrin — expands the possibilities of world music.

Intra-I Theon Cross

(New Soil/Marathon)

Caribbean heritage remains strong in a newer generation of British-born musicians at the forward edge of recent jazz in the UK. Theon Cross — Jamaican dad and St Lucian mum — is a boundary-pushing tuba player who is evolving the role of that instrument, and critically, reinforcing the cultural legacy of the islands as a lynchpin for a modern jazz that moves away from the blues as the music’s foundation. With that knowledge and ancestry, he improvises and fuses jazz with dub, dancehall, soca, UK hip hop, grime, and “other sounds connected to the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.” Sound system culture exudes from the sonic profiles of the ten songs on this album. The extended Caribbean, beyond Windrush, brings island ideas to global audiences. While the tuba is not generally the first instrument one thinks of as a lead, Cross has found a way to move the sound and musicality beyond comedic artifice towards ethereal reinvention.


Love Has Found Its Way Tigana Thomas


In 1982, the Crown Prince of Reggae, the late Dennis Brown, released the lovers rock/R&B smooth groove, “Love Has Found Its Way”, to moderate success in the US and UK. The song has a staying power however, that proves you can’t keep a good song quiet. Guitarist Tigana Thomas from Trinidad explores the song’s potential to remain a danceable tune, whether falsetto vocals or full-bodied jazzy guitar strums take the lead. In this case, singer Jolene Romain sings the verse while Mya Scott sings the chorus refrain. The interplay between voice and guitar adds a layer of alternating sonic elements that are interesting enough to make this new cover of a classic song listenable beyond a few bars. The Caribbean “romantic getaway” aesthetic evoked by this recording reinforces a popular notion of what is sought after in these isles by tourists. If this song is part of the soundtrack of visitor engagement, that’s not a bad thing at all.


  1. These reviews appear in the January/February 2022 issue of Caribbean Beat Magazine.
© 2022, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.