Saturday, May 31, 2008

June's Jazz month in Jamaica

Jazz music had it's birth in America around the beginning of the 20th century in the Black communities in Southern United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions.

Its West African pedigree is evident in its use of what is called blue notes (a musical note played or sung slightly lower than usual) , call-and-response (succession of two distinct phrases usually played different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first), improvisation (music performed or done without any preparation or set text to follow), polyrhythms (contrasting rhythms), syncopation (accent is shifted to a weak beat of the bar) and the swing note of ragtime( a style of U.S. popular music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries).

Jamaica musicians adapted and played the jazz form long before the birth of Bob Marley and reggae music. Today, the tradition is being perpetrated mainly among older musicians like Sonny Bradshaw but have pique the interest of few young contemporary players like pianist Dr. Kathy Brown.
Eighteen years ago, in an effort to restore real jazz tradition in Jamaica, Trombonist Sonny Bradshaw founded the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival that features yearly a veritable mix of the purist form of the genre. Bradshaw is responsible for the designation of June as Jazz month in Jamaica.

The Ocho Rios Jazz Festival kicks of Sunday, June 8th at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel and climax at the Shaw Park Beach Hotel & Spa on Fathers Day, Sunday, June 15th. The Pegasus Jazz in the Garden is slated for Sunday, June 29.

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