Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Roll Call on Jazz in Jamaica

Jazz, the African-American inspired music that is central to New Orleans and environs, has been explored and certainly exploited by the earliest Jamaican musicians, coming to mind readily is master trumpeter Sonny Bradshaw and his Big Band. Thereafter, Jamaica produced internationally recognized pianist Monty Alexander, guitarist Ernest Ranglin, and Birmingham, UK legendary saxophonist Andy Hamilton.

Other jazz musicians who had overseas visibility in a distant past include names like Dizzy Reece (trumpet), Joe Harriott (saxophone), Bertie King (saxophone). Most of these musicians opted to ply their craft overseas in more lucrative, artistically motivating concert halls and jazz clubs of Europe and the United States.

Other luminaries of the local jazz scene, both past and present, include Hedley Jones, Seymour "Foggy" Mullings, Cedric Brooks, Myrna Hague, Carl "Cannonball" Bryan, Jasper Adams, Roy Burrowes, Wilton Gaynair, Totlyn Jackson, Billy Cook and Reuben Alexander.

Straight-ahead jazz musicians are today a rarity and others, for survival, basically play the field of jazz, reggae and dancehall to make ends meet. Today’s Jamaican practitioners, players of improvised music, reads Desi Jones (drums), Seretse Small (guitars), Kathy Brown (piano), Harold Davis (piano), Deleon White (drums), Denver Smith (percussions), Akil Karam (drums), Djenne Greaves (percussions), Sherwayne Thompson (bass), Aeion Hoilett (bass), John Williams (multi-instrumentalist) Maurice Gordon (guitars) Marjorie Whylie (piano), Alicia (singer) Dennis Rushton (piano), Dale Haslam (bass), Ouida Lewis (percussions), Charmaine Limonius (pianist and singer), Alex Martin (piano) Karen Smith (songstress), Christine Fisher and those we inadvertently omit.

The calendar shows are Jazz in the Garden (bimonthly), Jazz on the Green (annual), Harold Davis Moonlighting, Ocho Rios Jazz Festival (annual), Optimist Jazz Show (annual), and Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival (annual)

Jazz is played on a regular basis at Christopher’s Jazz Cafe, Red Bones Blues CafĂ©, Rib Cage Restaurant, Pegasus Hotel, Terra Nova Hotel, and The Event Place (Montego Bay) and those other open house for improvised music that we inadvertently omit.

Two of 18 radio stations and currently 3 programs are jazz-oriented; Riffin (Dermot Hussey) on News Talk 93 FM weekdays 8:30 – 9:30 pm, Sunday Brunch (Monty “Merritone” Blake )New Talk 93FM, Sundays 12- 4 pm, Sunday Bess (Lou Gooden) on BESS 100 FM Sunday 12-6 pm.

Some personalities behind the music includes Keith Brown (Musicologist), Ken Nelson (Jazz in the Gardens), Walter Elmore (Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival), Sonny Bradshaw & Myrna Hague (Ocho Rios Jazz Festival), Mutabaruka and Dermot Hussey (musicologists/presenters), and Herbie Miller (jazz historian).

1 comment:

DrDLight said...

Trying to locate Totlyn Jackson! We were good friends in Vernal, Utah when she came as a cultural ambassador for Ocho Rios, Jamaica!

I worked as a newspaper reporter and my son (Jon-Jon) was the "President of the Totlyn Jackson Fan Club" - he's 26 now, and STILL remembers that!

Still love ya, Totlyn! Contact me, please!!!

I used to be Dawn Mathiesen.