Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Anita Baker: arguably the best act at Jazz & Blues

Anita Baker arguably gave the best performance of the three-day Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival held in the tourism capital Montego Bay over last weekend. But, it is a rarity that a first night act be declared the overall best performer where the biggest billed stars, are usually the closing acts of the festival.

From the Jamaican Art of Music that opens Thursday night showcase to the “Caribbean Queen” man Billy Ocean closing act the performances were world-class And, despite the brouhaha with superstar Diana Ross, no performer flopped.

Standout and memorable was the performance of Canadian 13 year-old sensation Nikki Yanofsky who delivered a mature 45-minutes set that left the near 20,000 crowd spellbound. Thursday night another 13 year old, Jessica Yap justified her billing on the region’s biggest jazz festival.

Spyro who? asked a lady beside, “mi neva here ‘bout dem before” in response to the performance of the internationally acclaimed Spyro Gyra , who have recorded 25 albums and sold 10 million records making them the most prolific group in jazz fusion. People who understand their music, however, know that they gave a classic presentation and their Trinidadian born drummer must rank among the best upcoming.

Based on reports, Friday night belong to Jill Scott who fused poetry, storytelling and music to give the best performance of Night 2. Chalice and Hugh Masekela were outstanding.

A.J. Brown was in his usual fine form, Marjorie Whylie was a show stealer, Yueba Buena had Anita Baker dancing stage side, Koko Taylor put the blues in Jazz & Blues and did please.

Having seen Thursday and Saturday Night presentations and having read and heard from associates who attended Friday Night show, Offbeat rates the performers based on their individual performance, their connecting with the patrons and how the media reported them, the Top 5 Performers at the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2008 were;

1. Anita Baker
2. Jill Scott
3. Billy Ocean
4. Nikki Yanofsky
5. Hugh Masekela

Runner-ups: Spyra Gyro and Ryan Shaw.

Still, those occupying the privileged front of stage position would argue that Diana Ross strongly challenged Anita Baker as the best performer of the festival but with what transpired then maybe she should be sidelined from the Offbeat ratings.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Anita Baker with a whole bunch o' love songs

Anita Baker said all she brought was “a whole bunch o' love songs” to Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in Montego Bay and she dispensed it with charm, much passion. The impression is that she will leave with sweet notions of Jamaica.

“Where were you all my life”, she insisted, visibly taken aback by the riotous good response of the unusual high first night turn out. With passion and, at times, overpowered with emotions, Anita sang the crowd’s songs and they sang back to the multiply Grammy winner.

Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett and MC Richie B surprised her with a birthday cake and at the end the later concluded that “Anita Baker came, she saw, she conquered” on a first night when the Art of Jamaican music, Yerba Buena, Spyro Gyra and J.T. Taylor gave top class performances.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Summarizing the all-times greatest jazz players

The Offbeat highlighted in articles below the DigitalDreamDoor.com website’s measure of the greatest jazz musicians of all times, a greatest list that drew a dissenting voice (Greatest Drummers) but largely it provided great memories and general education on the genre.

When all the sectional lists of the Greatest 100 lists are tabulated and computed, in terms of career success, jazz singer Billy “Lady Day” Holiday may well be the greatest jazz artist of all-times based on the sucess of her recordings, but only just from Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, the website overall Greatest Artist, followed by Thelonius Monk and Ella Fitzgerald well in their wake.

The following is a summary of the Top 5 artists and Top 10 records of the jazz era

Greatest Jazz Trumpeters: - 1.Louis Armstrong, 2. Miles Davis, 3. Dizzy Gillespie, 4. Clifford Brown, 5. Lee Morgan,

Greatest Jazz Saxophonists: - 1. Charlie Parker, 2. John Coltrane, 3. Lester Young, 4. Coleman Hawkins, 5. Sonny Rollins,

Greatest Jazz Vocalists: - 1. Billie Holiday, 2. Sarah Vaughan, 3. Ella Fitzgerald, 4. Nat King Cole, 5. Louis Armstrong,

Greatest Jazz Pianists: -1. Thelonius Monk, 2. Art Tatum, 3. Bill Evans, 4. McCoy Tyner, 5. Oscar Peterson,

Greatest Jazz bassists: - 1 Charles Mingus, 2. Stanley Clarke, 3. Paul Chambers, 4. Jaco Pastorius, 5. Ron Carter,

Greatest Jazz Artist: - 1.Louis Armstrong, 2. Duke Ellington, 3. Miles Davis, 4. Charlie Parker, 5. John Coltrane

Greatest Jazz Guitarists: - 1. Wes Montgomery, 2. Django Reinhardt, 3. Pat Metheny, 4. Joe Pass, 5. Charlie Christian

Greatest Jazz Drummers: - 1. Buddy Rich 2. Elvin Jones 3. Max Roach, 4. Roy Haynes 5. Jack DeJohnette

Greatest Jazz Albums: - 1. Lady In Satin - Billie Holiday, 2. Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown - Sarah Vaughan & Clifford Brown, 3. Ella In Rome - Ella Fitzgerald, 4. The Hottest New Group In Jazz - Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, 5. September of My Years - Frank Sinatra
Greatest Jazz Vocal Standard: - Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday/Cassandra Wilson), 2. Summertime (Ella Fitzgerald/Nina Simone), 3. God Bless the Child (Billie Holiday/Carmen McRae), 4. What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong/Etta Jones), 5. What A Difference A Day Made (Dinah Washington/Sarah Vaughan), 6. My Funny Valentine (Sarah Vaughan/Chet Baker), 7. Mack The Knife (Frank Sinatra/Ella Fitzgerald), 8. Body and Soul (Billie Holiday/Sarah Vaughan), 9. Someone To Watch Over Me (Blossom Dearie/Ella Fitzgerald), 10. You've Changed (Billie Holiday/Ella Fitzgerald)

Greatest Jazz Instrumental: - 1. West End Blues - Louis Armstrong, 2. Round Midnight Thelonious Monk, 3. Take The A Train - Duke Ellington, 4. In The Mood - Glenn Miller, 5. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat - Charles Mingus, 6. Giant Steps - John Coltrane, 7. So What -Miles Davis, 8. Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington, 9. Naima - John Coltrane, 10. Take Five - Dave Brubeck & Paul Desmond.

Greatest Jazz Ballad: - 1. Strange Fruit- Billie Holliday & Cassandra Wilson, 2. What a Wonderful World - (Louis Armstrong & Lionel Hampton), 3. Round' Midnight - Thelonious Monk & Miles Davis, 4. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat - Charles Mingus & Stanley Clarke, 5. Mood Indigo - Duke Ellington & Charles Mingus