Friday, December 4, 2009

Cassandra Wilson to release Closer To You album

Grammy-award winning jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson will release Closer To You: The Pop Side on April 7th via Blue Note / EMI.

With her unmistakable honeyed husky voice, she has made intimate and personal statements with jazz, blues, R&B, country and pop. Closer To You: The Pop Side is a new collection of Wilson’s best covers of pop / rock hits, originally recorded by a who’s-who of top musicians, including U2, Bob Dylan, Glen Campbell, The Band, Sting, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Cyndi Lauper and The Wallflowers.

Closer To You: The Pop Side celebrates the finest pop covers from Wilson’s seven albums recorded with Blue Note during her lengthy tenure with the legendary label.

Wilson won her second Grammy Award in February, earning the Best Jazz Vocal Album honors for Loverly, her critically acclaimed 2008 Blue Note release. Blue Note Records is celebrating its 70th Anniversary as the world’s premier and longest-running jazz label with special commemorative releases.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mellow jazz at AA dizzying 35,000 feet

The options opened to the Offbeat Blogger, provisionally confined on an American Airline Boeing 757-200 jet plying the Miami to Los Angeles route, were enough for the over 5-hour long journey.

Read the carry-on novel and do crossword puzzle, rummage through the American Way mag, sip a Cola (complimentary meal is passé) while watching the moving, picturesque landscape below, watch the hilarious Imagine That, a movie starring Eddie Murphy and cutie Yara Shahidi, or just kick back and listen to some really mellow and sophisticated blend of jazz instrumentals and vocals.

With time to spare the Blogger did all of the above.

The After Hour jazz channel certainly helped to take the edge off a 2300-mile long flight cruising at a dizzying 35,000 feet. And, Anita O’Day, Diana Krall, Miles Davis, James Darren complemented what was a smooth flight to LA.

The Sky Radio audio included Miles Davis - Blue in Green, Kevin Mahogany - Since I fell For You, Gene Harris & Scott Hamilton Quintet - At Last, Bloosom Dearie - Someone To Watch Over Me, Kenny Burrell - I’m Falling For You, James Darren - Blame It On My Youth, Astrud Gilberto - The Girl From Ipanema, Chet Baker - Time After Time, Diana Krall - Everytime We Say Goodbye, Marian McPartland - What’s New, Anita O’ Day - I Can’t Get Started.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Jamie Cullum shows change and evolve in The Pursuit

While it is being strongly mooted that jazz is in steady decline and that the average jazz enthusiasts are among the geriatrics an emergent band of young musicians have not only given credence to the genre but also wining new jazz fans while garnering measurable return on a chancy investment.

Jamie Cullum , English based pop-jazz, crossover jazz singer, pianist is one such musician who stuck his neck out and earned the distinction of being UK’s biggest selling jazz artist of all times and with only three studio albums.

His fifth album, The Pursuit, released November 9, pragmatically sidles to some extent to the pop-side assuredly an effort to captivate a wider, larger market. Purposefully, the Decca Record 14-track CD/DVD Deluxe Edition opens with a Cole Porter jazz classic, “Just One of Those Things”, first of five covers, and closes out with an atypical house music track “Music Is Through” that is indicative of the roadway The Pursuit travelled.

Jamie Cullum penned the first album single “I’m All Over It”, the cheery “Wheels”, the animated swing “You and Me Are Gone”, his love songs “Mixtape” and “Love Ain’t Gonna Let You Down”. Cullum adopted Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music”, Leslie Bricusse’s “If I Ruled the World” fitted snuggly after “Wheels” (fallen off the world), Stephen Sondheim’s promise “Not While I’m Around” and another Cole Porter tune, "Love For Sale", the latter makes the DVD side of the album.

While the album cover art illustrates an exploding piano, which is the way Jamie prosecute his live performances, The Pursuit is a pop compared to the piano fireworks of Twentysomething. Yet, the intention of both Grammy-nominated producer Greg Wells and Cullum, the former British Jazz Rising Star, seemingly was to move the album outside of the expected and extends the musician’s reach.

Another point to note is that The Pursuit title has no reference in any of the composite tunes. The Grammy and Golden Globe nominated musician admits “The reason I made it the album title was that I've come to realize that life is one long pursuit. Being a musician is not about any obvious goal; it's about appreciating the journey as opposed to the destination”.

Actually, the title was drawn from Nancy Mitford’s classic novel, The Pursuit of Love. "In life, we pursue everything. Life is one long pursuit," Jamie continued, and the album is just such a pursuit”, a combination of his eclectic music tastes and enduring love of Jazz and its timeless standards.

Music Week’s Andy Morris calls The Pursuit ‘bold, experimental and the best thing Cullum's done’. His fans will offer their own superlatives of this exciting musician who admires people like Miles Davis and Tom Waits much because they “make all kinds of different records, they change and evolved over the years”.

The Pursuit shows that Jamie Cullum is changing and evolving into a more seasoned, matured, better musician.

1. Just One of Those Things
2. I'm All Over It
3. Wheels
4. If I Ruled the World
5. You and Me Are Gone
6. Don't Stop the Music
7. Love Ain't Gonna Let You Down
8. Mixtape
9. I Think I Love You
10. We Run Things
11. Not While I'm Around
12. Music Is Through

Friday, November 6, 2009

Smooth Jazz stars shone on Santa Catalina Island

Catalina Island Casino Ballroom

The stars of Smooth Jazz shone in the Avalon Casino Ballroom on Catalina Island at the 23rd staging of the Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival that is held each year over the first three weekends of October.

Organised and produced by Art Good, host of the syndicated JazzTrax radio show, the crowd that included this Blogger sailed across from the Californian mainland on the Catalina Express to imbibe on the very best of Smooth Jazz (California is awash in Smooth Jazz).

Although not a huge fan of Smooth Jazz, the show was a treat in itself and what stood out most was the high quality musicianship of all who mounted the ballroom stage. Not a misnomer, no dice roll, no gambling occurs in the The Avalon Casino Ballroom, a circular, 12-story building perch at the edge of Avalon harbour.

This year Catalina JazzTrax dates were October 2-18 and Good billed some 30 acts over the three weekends. Headliners of the multiple venue series included Marc Antoine, Peter White, Norman Brown, Nick Colionne, Eric Darius, George Duke, Kyle Eastwood (Clint's son), Gregg Karukas, Earl Klugh, Phillip 'Doc' Martin, Keiko Matsui, Pieces of Dream, and Najee.

We got to see former baseball star cum saxophonist Bernie Williams, guitarist Craig Sharmat, saxophonist Jackiem Joyner and show stopping saxman Kim Waters (who passengers applauded on the boat back to the mainland).

Offbeat highly recommends this beautiful Catalina Island and the 24th Annual Catalina JazzTrax Festival to be held First 3 Weekends of October 2010.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

California the definitive Smooth Jazz hub of the US

California could be dubbed Smooth Jazz hub of the United States. Smooth Jazz has its most success as a radio format and radio is the powerful force behind this fast growing music that is most popular among middle agers.

The Californian landscape is dotted with Smooth Jazz dedicate channels as we found out on a recent visit. The diehard stations are Radio Free KJLH 102.3 FM (Los Angeles), WAVE 94.7 FM (Los Angeles), The River 105.5 FM (Modesto), K Jazz 102.3FM (Palm Spring), Bridge 96.1 FM (Redding), KSSJ 94.7 FM (Sacramento), KIFM Smooth Jazz 98.1 FM (San Diego), Magic 106.3FM (Santa Barbara) KJZY 93.7FM (Santa Rosa), KMYT 94.5 FM (Temecula).

Offbeat must mention Saddleback College radio KSBR Jazz 88.5 FM, a radio station that airs New Age/World & Roots Reggae music, features much of Smooth Jazz live performance from various locations in the LA area (Kevin Melvin hosts a Smooth Jazz show on weekends).

A sub of jazz, Smooth Jazz had its influence in R&B, funk and pop and was established as a commercially viable music in the mid –late 1970. Among the early pioneers were Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour, Grover Washington Jr, and bands such as Spyro Gyro, Foreplay. The saxophone followed by the guitar are the featured instrument of Smooth Jazz.

From San Diego Melanie Maxwell, managing Editor & Publisher, brings news of the genre in a monthly magazine called Smooth Jazz News. And, while the premier American Smooth Jazz Award ceremony commutes to different US States, California’s highlight of Smooth Jazz is the over two decade running Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival produced by Art Good, host of the nationally syndicated JazzTrax radio show and staged over three consecutive weekends of October.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

'Sax sounds like me’, say YolanDa Brown

By Rachel Wakefield
The Guardian

YOLANDA Brown may not be a household name when it comes to identifying popular saxophonists yet, but she beat Courtney Pine to win Best Jazz artist at the MOBOs last year. And then she did it again two weeks ago at this year’s ceremony held in Glasgow, Scotland.

“It’s just wonderful,” she gushes. “I’ve now got two bookends.”

This cheeky sense of humour is indicative of YolanDa’s charming personality. The former head girl at Beal High School in Redbridge continues. “Gaining this award is very prestigious and to be nominated for a second time and win thanks to a public vote is overwhelming. As a musician you want people to hear what you’ve created; but you also want to know that they like it.”

What’s even more stunning is that this 27-year-old Gants Hill resident, born to Jamaican parents, has not even had an album out yet. The votes were all to do with her live performances; and judging by the clips on the internet this 5ft 3in “without my heels” musician really does give her all, playing the tenor saxophone which is nearly the length of her torso.

She references jazz, Afro-jazz, gospel, reggae, salsa, hip-hop, R&B, with consummate ease, even going back to Mento (Jamaican folk music) throughout her performances, but her style and phrasing always remains her own.

“Learning to play the saxophone was a natural thing for me,” she says. “I was searching for an instrument that came from within the soul.”

It all began for YolanDa at 13, when she was given a Yamaha student sax “and I played it all over the Christmas holiday. I just couldn’t stop. My family were really understanding that year.”

YolanDa got to Grade 4 in the first year of playing and then stopped the lessons. “For me it was never about getting grades,” she says. “The saxophone sounds and feels like me; it’s a very soulful instrument. I’m not a singer but the sound of my tenor saxophone feels like it’s coming from me. It’s been very therapeutic especially when I was growing up. It was an outlet for me to let my emotions flow. Now I use it to help connect with the audience when I’m on stage.”

It’s easy to see why the public rate this very personable performer; but it’s not the Champagne lifestyle that YolanDa is now looking forward too. She is currently in the final year of her PhD at the University of Kent. Prior to that she completed a Masters in Management Science, as well as a Masters in Social Research Methods, and her undergraduate dissertation was on: “Combining SSM (soft systems methodology) and DESM (discrete event simulation) in an athletics club.”

Not only that, she has her debut album coming out in spring next year.

So how does YolanDa balance her time as a professional musician with concentrating on her career-busting studying? “It’s not easy,” she states. “I’ll not glamourise it. If you have a passion for something, you will find the time and push yourself.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jon Secada expresses with new jazz album

Jon Secada has recorded the album he has wanted to produce for a longtime considering that he studied and obtained a Master's Degree in Jazz Vocal Performance at the University of Miami.
Since that time he has had a couple of occasions to exercise his jazz vocal skills: (1) Amor (1995) [Grammy Award], (2) Dave Grusin Presents West Side Story (1997) ["Somewhere"]. Now finally in 2009, Secada has given us an exceptionally entertaining and beautiful jazz album.
Not a smooth jazz album, it is a true straight-ahead jazz album. Expressions, a live recording- which gives it a very warm and intimate jazz club feel, is marked by a beautiful track, "I Do Love You" with a smooth scat performance by Secada. Jazz standards "Body and Soul" and "What a Wonderful World" are performed with sincerity and the vocal ability of a seasoned jazz vocalist.
Pop classics "Chances Are" and "Alone Again (Naturally)" are given the jazz treatment with Secada adding his imprint to them. Secada's own compositions: "Wishes", "Find Me In Your Dreams", "Angel", "Just Another Day", "Letter From A Friend", "Rainbows", "I Found A Reason" and "When Night Time Falls" are excellent jazz compositions and interpretations. Listeners will recognize, "Angel" and "Just Another Day" lyrically, but the arrangements and interpretations by Secada distance them from the originals and keep them in line with the straight-ahead jazz theme of the album.
Overall this is a wonderful, solid, and well produced jazz project, one that Frank. Sinatra, whom Secada recorded a duet with, would have been proud.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mickey Hanson: Jamaica's master trumpeter

Jamaican master trumpeter Mickey Hanson has recorded with Bob Marley, performed with Dexter Gordon, Hugh Masekala, Glady's Knight, Aretha Franklin, Denise Williams and other greats.

A student of Melba Liston, an American composer, arranger and trombone player,
in that first batch of Jamaica School of Music musicians which included the likes of Dean Fraser and Dwight Pinkney, Mickey has retained a high standard of performance that often leaves his audience in awe of the beauty of the music that he plays

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ernest Ranglin: Jamaica's best jazz guitarist

Jamaica's master guitarist Ernest Ranglin, has been involved in the development of all the styles of popular music in Jamaica, and is the country's best jazz guitarist. He played on many classic Jamaican recordings and performed with such artists as Jimmy Cliff, Monty Alexander, the Skatalites and the legendary Eric Deans Orchestra, a premier Jamaican Big band during the country's dance band era in the 40's and early 50's.

He was also a member of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation Orchestra, a pioneering group of some the best musicians of the day. In the early 60's he arranged and played on Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop", Jamaica's first pop hit produced by Chris Blackwell of Island Records, with whom, he also recorded his early jazz Albums, Wranglin and Reflections.

In 1973, he was awarded the Order of Distinction by the Jamaica Government, for his contributions to music, and a Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of the West Indies, in 2002, for his contribution to the development of music in Jamaica. Ranglin has recorded over 20 albums.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jamie Cullum: Leaping At Monterey Jazz

As a child in the U.K., Jamie Cullum was obsessed with music from an early age, grew up with rock and pop and now studies jazz. He has just a touch of Sinatra in his voice, and, according to NPR's JazzSet host Dee Dee Bridgwater, he's all over the piano — under it, inside it, leaping off of it. A bit of an aerialist, quick-witted, charming and hyperkinetic. Cullum apparently did a totally focused set, a little of his usual stunts, in this his Monterey Jazz Festival debut.

A rave review declared Cullum as refreshing and entertaining, " it seems to mean even more when he slows down and sings a standard".

"People who have seen me play live and read things I've written will already know that I've got a very eclectic taste, but singing a song like 'What a Difference a Day Makes' — well, it is one of the hardest things you can do," Cullum says.

Fans of Jamie Callum, like this Offbeat blogger, through the courtesy of NPR Music, can hear the Monterey Jazz debut @

Friday, September 4, 2009

Avishai Cohen: A jazz visionary of global proportion

New York base, bassist/composer Avishai Cohen, born April 20, 1970 in Israel, a musician who has been called a “jazz visionary of global proportions” by DownBeat, and was declared one of the 100 Most Influential Bass Players of the 20th Century by Bass Player Magazine, is renowned around the world as an influential double bassist and profound composer, and has received a deluge of critical praise for his recent recorded output and live performances.

In February of 2005 Razdaz Recordz released At Home, an album that was arguably Avishai Cohen’s most compelling and striking new recording to date. That is until the artist conceived of, and recorded his newest CD, the spectacularly beautiful, Continuo

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Karrin Allyson: Has Jazz, Will Travel

Karrin Allyson is one of the busiest jazz vocalists in the US and international scene these days. Starting her musical journey studying classical piano, Allyson discovered jazz and jazz singing in college and thus claimed her future.

Over the years, Allyson has honed her singing, songwriting and piano skills and has recorded twelve CDs, this has led to three Grammy nominations in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category; the latest nomination coming in 2008 for her Imagina: Songs of Brasil CD.

A native of Kansas, Allyson tours extensively playing in traditional jazz venues all over the world as well as at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the 92nd Street Y in New York City where she now makes her home. She sings in French, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish, as well as in English and the songs she performs are drawn from a variety of genre including bossa nova, blues, bebop, standards and vocal performances of several instrumental jazz compositions.

Allyson's vocal qualities are distinctive, her emotional range is wide and she is a devoted, lyric-driven storyteller.

From All About Jazz

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Can jazz be save and who's listening?

The audience for America’s great art form is withering away.

In 1987, US Congress passed a joint resolution declaring jazz to be “a rare and valuable national treasure.” Nowadays the music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis is taught in public schools, heard on TV commercials and performed at prestigious venues such as New York’s Lincoln Center, which even runs its own nightclub.

Here’s the catch: Nobody’s listening.

No, it’s not quite that bad—but it’s no longer possible for head-in-the-sand types to pretend that the great American art form is economically healthy or that its future looks anything other than bleak.

The bad news came from the National Endowment for the Arts’ latest Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, the fourth to be conducted by the NEA (in participation with the U.S. Census Bureau) since 1982. These are the findings that made jazz musicians sit up and take notice:

In 2002, the year of the last survey, 10.8% of adult Americans attended at least one jazz performance. In 2008, that figure fell to 7.8%. Not only is the audience for jazz shrinking, but it’s growing older—fast. The median age of adults in America who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 46. In 1982 it was 29.

Older people are also much less likely to attend jazz performances today than they were a few years ago. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 9.8%. In 2002, it was 13.9%. That’s a 30% drop in attendance.

Even among college-educated adults, the audience for live jazz has shrunk significantly, to 14.9% in 2008 from 19.4% in 1982.

These numbers indicate that the audience for jazz in America is both aging and shrinking at an alarming rate. What I find no less revealing, though, is that the median age of the jazz audience is now comparable to the ages for attendees of live performances of classical music.

What does this tell us? I suspect it means, among other things, that the average American now sees jazz as a form of high art. Nor should this come as a surprise to anyone, since most of the jazz musicians that I know feel pretty much the same way. They regard themselves as artists, not entertainers, masters of a musical language that is comparable in seriousness to classical music—and just as off-putting to pop-loving listeners who have no more use for Wynton Marsalis than they do for Felix Mendelssohn.

No, I don’t know how to get young people to start listening to jazz again. But I do know this: Any symphony orchestra that thinks it can appeal to under-30 listeners by suggesting that they should like Schubert and Stravinsky has already lost the battle. If you’re marketing Schubert and Stravinsky to those listeners, you have no choice but to start from scratch and make the case for the beauty of their music to otherwise intelligent people who simply don’t take it for granted. By the same token, jazz musicians who want to keep their own equally beautiful music alive and well have got to start thinking hard about how to pitch it to young listeners—not next month, not next week, but right now

This article is reprinted from All About Jazz magazine, the world largest jazz music website @

Sunday, July 26, 2009

White House celebrates the music of Stevie Wonder

Twas an evening of celebration with President and Mrs. Obama at the White House in honor of legendary musician Stevie Wonder's receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song on February 25, 2009. Telecasted by PBS, the concert included performances by Wonder with a cavalcade of popular musicians, including Tony Bennett, India Arie, Diana Krall, Paul Simon, performing a selection of Wonder's hit songs.

The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, named in honor of the legendary George and Ira Gershwin, recognizes the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world's culture. The prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. Paul Simon was the first recipient of the Gershwin Prize in May 2007.

Join the PBS presentation @

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jazzy "A" graders: Brown, Martin & Brown

Published: Jamaica Gleaner
Sunday | July 5, 2009

The jazz genre appears to lure and engage more musicians that are academics than any other genres, at least of popular music. Recently the United States (US) National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released survey results suggesting that jazz musicians are largely male, middle-aged and well-educated.
"The study shows that jazz musicians tend to be male and well educated, with about 45 per cent holding a bachelor's degree or higher," says the NEA. And, likewise, many women in jazz have similarly come from the crest of academia...
Photo: YolanDa Brown

Full story @

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Purple Rain to close Montreaux Jazz Festival

The purists deem as sacrilegious the idea of pop concerting on traditional jazz festivals. But while they gripe Europe's most prestigious jazz festival as confirmed US pop icon Prince for a two-show set to close this year's Montreaux Jazz Festival.
Called a "musician of genius" by the organizers, the Purple Rain composer will be joined by Rhonda Smith, Renato Net and John Blackwell for two shows.

As reported by Reuters, Prince "last played at the Swiss event two years ago and then showed up at 3 a.m. to jam with his band at a late-night jazz cafe. That year, tickets sold out in a record 10 minutes for his performance at Stravinski Auditorium."

The 43rd staging of Montreaux, which began July 3 to end July 18th, also features Black Eyed Peas, B.B. King, Dave Matthews Band, Angelique Kidjo, Wyclef Jean and pianist Herbie Hancock in concert with Chinese pianist Lang Lang

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First Lady Hosts White House Jazz Workshop

Michelle Obama kicked off a series of musical workshops at the White House inviting 150 talented students from Middle and high school from across the country fanned out inside the White House for lectures and performance tips from professional jazz musicians.

The entire Marsalis family -- father Ellis and sons Branford, Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason participated, along with Cuban jazz master Paquito D'Rivera and D.C.'s own Davey Yarborough, passing along jazz tips and the larger lessons they've learned from music

The first lady referred to Jazz as "America's greatest artistic gift to the world."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NPR Music's Evolution of a song: 'Strange Fruit'

Billie Holiday fashioned the haunting, poetic meditation "Strange Fruit" into a jazz landmark. She thus unwittingly invited scores of singers to try their hands at the song. Among those who did, Diana Ross, Nina Simone, Cocteau Twins, Cassandra Wilson, Sting and India.Arie

The story behind the song "Strange Fruit" is well-known in jazz circle. Shocked by a postcard bearing a photograph of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith in Marion, Ind., Bronx schoolteacher Abel Meeropol put pen to paper. Full of unforgettable imagery, his poem "Bitter Fruit" was published under the name Lewis Allan in 1936. He later supplied a melody so it could be sung at political rallies, but jazz icon Billie Holiday and her pianist Sonny White refashioned the simple tune.

Adapted from Jazz Notes, NPR Music

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dr. Kathy Brown chit-chats on Miami based jazz radio

Jamaican jazz keyboardist Dr. Kathy Brown chit-chatted on Saturday with Florida based radio 88.9FM WDNA jock Howard "Flagga" Duperly as the 'Serious Jazz' radio broadcasts live interviews from RIU Club Hotel Ocho Rios as part of its coverage of the Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival from the Jamaica's tourist resort.

Brown, a medical doctor, jazz pianist, recording artist, fielded posers from the Saturday afternoon Reggae Ride host on the musician's double career of medicine and music or vice versa.

Signicantly, in a chat aired to millions of WDNA FM listeners, the 'jazzy doctor' repeatedly emphasized a yen to perform her Caribbean tinged, contemporary jazz styling overseas whether be in jazz clubs or jazz festivals.

Dr. Kathy Brown, a staple on the Jamaican jazz circuit, released the seminal, CD Mission: A Musical Journey in 2007 and is currently working on material for her sophomore set.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Miami jazz station returns to Ocho Rios Festival

Miami based jazz radio station 89.9FM WDNA returns to Jamaica’s North Coast for the third consecutive year to broadcast the week-long Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival. The station crew, on-air personalities, technical staff and come-along guests will be in residence at the RIU Ocho Rios Hotel, June 18-22.

The come-along guests comprise 88.9FM WDNA listeners who purchased packages to Ocho Rios and Mr. David Singh and family who is the grand prize winner of the jazz station on-air contest. Singh is the recipient of round trip airfare courtesy of Air Jamaica, an all-inclusive 5-day, 4-night stay at the RIU Ocho Rios, as well as admission to all the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival events.

Howard Duperly, WDNA FM’s sales & marketing manager and Reggae show host, informed Offbeat that the 88.9FM WDNA party to Ocho Rios currently totals 25 persons. In addition to live broadcasts of the station's very popular Latin Quarter shows with Cary Alexander, Hal Roland and Andy Harlow, the party will attend many of the Jazz Fest activities.

88.9FM WDNA “Serious jazz’ is the only source for prime time jazz, Latin jazz and world beat music in South Florida, a market of over 4 million people.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival bowls off June 14

The Ocho Rios Jazz Festival bowls off Sunday, June 14 and for those intimately familiar with the British Commonwealth game of cricket the weeklong fest is concocted in cricket paralence.

So, jazzfest headman and chief selector Cecil “Sonny” Bradshaw picks a formidable side involving players from France, England, USA, and the Caribbean. Under the banner The Preservation and Promotion of Black Classical Music-Jazz, the Ocho Rios Jazz fest fixture begins in open air settings at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, following Jazz & Coffee in the Blue Mountains the evening before.

The matches begin with an All Jamaica Jazz 11 Team – dubbed Piano- Keyboard Giants comprized of two seasoned batsmen Harold Butler and brother Leslie Butler (Miami), team captain Marjorie Whylie, special spin bowlers Foggy Mullings and Obeah Denton ,four-pronged fast bowlers Dr. Kathy Brown, Andre Campbell, Courtney Sinclair, and Ozou'ne, opening batsmen Jon Williams and Peter Ashbourne, and fielding in the slip is vocalist extraordinaire Myrna Hague

Reserve players: Byard Lancaster (Sax/Flute), Sonny Bradshaw
COACH (Band) - Desi Jones & Skool
UMPIRES (MC): Don Topping, Fae Ellington, Anthony Cuffe

The jazz games move to homeground Ocho Rios for the rest of the week of activities the includes free public concerts, school band competition, leading up to the climax closing day show in Priory, St. Ann. Side shows are being held on the East (Port Antonio) and South (Treasure Beach) and West (Negril)coasts of Jamaica.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dee Dee Bridgewater: consumate jazz vocalist and ambassador

Born Denise Grant in Memphis on May 27, 1950 to father Matthew, a trumpeteer and teacher, few entertainers have ever commanded such depth of artistry in every medium as Dee Dee Bridgewater. And, even fewer still have been rewarded with Broadway’s coveted Tony Award (Best Featured Actress in a Musical The Wiz), nominated for the London theater’s West End equivalent, the Laurence Oliver Award (Best Actress in a Musical Lady Day), won two Grammy Awards (1998’s Best Jazz Vocal Performance and Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocal for “Cottontail” Slide Hampton, arranger “Dear Ella “), and France’s 1998 top honor Victoire de la Musique (Best Jazz Vocal Album).

Matthew Grant exposed young Denise to his love of jazz at an early age. The youngster enjoyed the many records her father played her, especially those of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley. By the age of 16 she was in a vocal trio that specialized in R&B and rock cover versions.

Dee Dee made her phenomenal New York debut in 1970 as the lead vocalist for the band led by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, one of the premier jazz orchestras of the time. These New York years marked an early career in concerts and on recordings with such giants as Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach and rich experiences with Norman Connors, Stanley Clarke and Frank Foster’s “Loud Minority.”

In 1976 she landed her first recording contract with Atlantic Records. Her first release was simply entitled “Dee Dee Bridgewater.” Her 2007 release of “Red Earth,” is her ode to Mali and Africa, and singing in the spirit that calls on her African ancestry and with reverence for jazz tradition at its best.

Dee Dee Bridgewater was named ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1999 joining the battle against world hunger.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Clifton Anderson's many Decades of music

Clifton Anderson was born in Harlem, New York City. He grew up surrounded by music. His Jamaican father was a church organist and choir director, and his USVI mother a singer and pianist. It was no surprise that Clifton exhibited an affinity for music at an early age. When he was just seven years old he got his first trombone, a gift from his famous uncle Sonny Rollins.

In 1983 Clifton joined his uncle, Sonny Rollins. Since, he has been a member of Sonny’s group and has toured extensively with him, performing throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, Canada and of course the United States. Clifton has also appeared on ten Sonny Rollins recordings.

Clifton has worked with diverse musical giants: from Frank Foster, McCoy Tyner, Clifford Jordan, Stevie Wonder, Dizzy Gillespie, Merv Griffin and The Mighty Sparrow to Lester Bowie, Paul Simon, WyClef Jean, and Dionne Warwick among others. Clifton’s credits also include the Broadway shows Dreamgirls and Nine.

Aired in Jamaica on Dermot Hussey's Riffin prog, Anderson's newest work Decade, is dedicated to the memory of his departed mother.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Duke Ellington among greatest composers, musicians

Edward Kennedy Ellington, Born on April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C., by the time of his passing in 1974 he was considered amongst the world’s greatest composers and musicians.

The French government honored him with their highest award, the Legion of Honor, while the government of the United States bestowed upon him the highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He played for the royalty and for the common people and by the end of his 50-year career, he had played over 20,000 performances worldwide.

He was The Duke, Duke Ellington.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Diana Krall's Bossa 'n' Quiet Night

Bossa Nova versus jazz reaches another critical mass with Diana Krall's Quiet Nights. And what a long way Krall has come since "Peel Me a Grape." Couched in pop literary terms, there is nothing coy about Quiet Nights.

This is Krall in full maturity sending husband Elvis Costello an audio love note... and what a love note it is. If music were a season, then Bossa Nova would be late summer—warm and humid; languid and lazy.

Krall's Bossa recital contains both Bossa classics ("The Boy from Ipanema," "Este Seu Olhar" and the Bacharach/David classic "Walk on By") and jazz classics cast in Bossa bronze ("Too Marvelous For Words," "I've Grown Accustomed to His Face," "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" and "Everytime We Say Goodbye"). All are given a breezy treatment by Krall's quintet with strings.

Krall, as a vocal performer, is placed front and center with little to draw one's attention from her. Krall's voice is breathy and spare, as is her piano playing. Sexy is not the adjective to describe this recording. A word deeper and more dense, where the physical and spiritual mingle, is necessary; a word not yet invented

Track listing: Where Or When; Too Marvelous For Words; I've Grown Accustomed To His Face; The Boy From Ipanema; Walk On By; You're My Thrill; Este Seu Olhar; So Nice; Quiet Nights; Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry; How Can You Mend A Broken Heart; Everytime We Say Goodbye.

Personnel: Diana Krall: piano, vocals; Anthony Wilson: guitar; John Clayton: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums; Paulinho Da Costa: percussion.

Adapted from All About Jazz

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Myrna Hague's authoritative display of beat and swing

by Herbie Miller

How distinctive her voice. Reigning jazz diva, Myrna Hague, has always stayed in touch with her roots. She performed recently at the Jamaica Pegasus Jazz in the Garden series as the featured vocalist with the Jamaica All Star Big Band.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jazz Jamaica for Rhythms of the World Festival

The headline acts for this year's Rhythms of the World Festival have been announced.

On the main stage, the 2002 BBC Jazz Band of the Year, Jazz Jamaica will play Saturday, July 4 at the Hitchin Priory, London venue.

In 1991, inspired by the rhythms of traditional Jamaican music and largely improvisational nature of jazz, original Jazz Warrior, and veteran jazz double bassist, Gary Crosby turned a musical concept into a joyful reality. Crosbys concept was to create a quintessential fusion of mento, ska, reggae and jazz, playing classic and modern jazz standards alongside Jamaican folksongs. The result was Jazz Jamaica.

Crosby developed the Jazz Jamaica concept by introducing a stream of talented young jazz musicians, so increasing the size of the pool of Jazz Jamaicans, and enabling him to push the boundaries of the music played. Collectively, Crosby and his musicians represent the finest exponents of this unique musical fusion known as skazz, a fusion loved and appreciated by everyone, of all ages and colours around the globe.

In 2002, Jazz Jamaica All Stars were winners of the BBC Radio Jazz Award for Best Band.

The multicultural, world class line-up of Jazz Jamaica, which embraces the legacy of the Motown label, is led by Gary Crosby and boasts an all-star lineup including leading hornsmen Denys Baptiste (tenor sax), Soweto Kinch (alto sax), Abram Wilson (trumpet/vocals), Harry Brown (trombone); the rocking rhythm section comprises Gary Crosby (double bass), Alex Wilson (piano/keys), Robin Banerjee (guitar), Oreste Noda (percussion), Rod Youngs (drums); and featuring the powerful, soulful vocals of Juliet Roberts, and rising star vocalists Zara Macfarlane and Wesley Lucas.

"This year's festival will continue the tradition of bringing musical diversity from the local community as well as introduces music and artists from around the world", says performance director Steve Smither.

Musicians from United States, Madagascar and Niger will perform on the July 4 and 5 festival.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rotary's Jazz on the Green reviews

Jamaica Gleaner photo

the Rotary Club of Spanish Town (Jamaica) fundraiser Jazz on the Green was held Sunday, March 15, 2009 on the lawn of Jamaica House, office of the Prime Minister

With a jazzcast of overseas and local line that include

Jason Wilson & Friends (Toronto)
Saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis (London)&
Ernest Ranglin
Desi Jones & The Green House Effect
Fab 5
Christopher McDonald
Edna Manley College School of Music Yr 3 Ensemble w/Ibo Cooper
Charmaine Limonious

Read the post show review in the Jamaican dailies

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Canadian Jason Wilson for Jazz on the Green

Canadian Scotsman Jason Wilson returns to the annual Rotary Club of Spanish Town fundraiser Jazz on the Green to be established on a new green Sunday, March 15. Predominantly, a crossover reggae performer dubbed by Canadian media as "reggae visionary" or the "future of reggae", Wilson, au fait on jazz, is a current nominee for Canada's prestgious Juno Award for 'Best Reggae Album" for his double CD set The Peacemaker Chauffeur that Dermot Hussey described poignantly as episodic. The album was featured earlier this month on Hussey's Riffin on Jamaica's Newstalk 93 FM.

On previous appearances Jason Wilson played Jazz on the Green on the traditional Cherry Garden green the 09 edition is set for the lawns of Jamaica House in Kingston.

Dr. Ernest Ranglin, Wilson's mentor, London-based saxophonist, clarinet player and keyboardist Pee Wee Ellis, other local players, Desi Jones and the Green House Effect, Chris McDonald, Charmaine Limonius, Pam Hall, Fab Five and The Edna Manley College School of Music year three ensemble are billed to perform.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Loverly wins Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy

Cassandra Wilson's tribute to the great American Songbook Loverly (Blue Note)won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal at the 51st Grammy Awards presentation in Los Angeles, California. She had won the category in 1997.

Other Jazz category Winners;

Contemporary Jazz Album: Randy in Brasil, Randy Brecker (MAMA Records)

Jazz Instrumental Solo: BE-BOP, Terence Blanchard, soloist; track from Live at the 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival (Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary All-Stars) (Monterey Jazz Festival Records)

Jazz Instrumental Album Individual or Group: The New Crystal Silence, Chick Corea and Gary Burton (Concord Records)

Large Jazz Ensemble Album: Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (Planet Arts Recordings)

Latin Jazz Album: Song for Chico, Arturo O'Farrill and The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (Zoho)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The future of jazz radio

And, while jazz radio has no past or presence and the future dims on jazz radio in Jamaica, the future brightens at online Accu Radio on, one of the myriad music channel on the Internet radio.

"AccuJazz has over two dozen personalizable channels of great jazz, with a new channel added every week. With channels ranging from classic to modern and straight-ahead to avant-garde, AccuJazz has more options than anyone else.

Yeh mon, just click on a channel and start listening. Hear jazz by composer, region, and decade, its a whole new ball game.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bajan/Caribbean talent front and centre at 2009 Jazz Fest

By John Stephenson

The recently-concluded Barbados Jazz Festival, featuring non-jazz headliners - notably British pop icon James Blunt, and Neo-Soul diva Angie Stone, represents a curious and interesting departure from previous editions of the festival.

By way of a ‘trojan-horse’ styled marketing initiative that front-ended non-Caribbean acts, the festival actually boasted a high quotient of Bajan and Caribbean talent.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the history of jazz festivals is littered with successful box-office non-jazz acts. If the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival (organised by the astute Swissman Claude Nobs) can headline pop and rock acts such as Chaka Khan and Carlos Santana, who is to argue with GMR International (organisers of the Barbados Jazz Festival) for giving James Blunt top billing?

Offbeat Notes: Here in Jamaica where radio stations shun that music created in New Orlean by Black musicians, where jazz is generally deemed tasteless and unpalletable, who can argue with Walter Elmore for billing predominantly non-jazz acts on Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2009?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Duke E Jazz Fest Provides Jazz Band for Obama

Duke Ellington Jazz Festival provided Jazz Band for Private Event for
President-Elect Barack Obama During Inauguration

Members of Duke Ellington Jazz Festival Artistic Advisor Paquito
D'Rivera's Quintet performed at an early dinner buffet for
President-Elect Barack Obama and his friends and family on Sunday
evening, January 18, at the Blair House. The Obamas lived at Blair
House prior to moving into the White House on Inauguration Day, January

5th Duke Ellington Jazz Festival: June 5 - 15, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kathy Brown in her full element

Published: Monday January 12, 2009
Media: Jamaican Gleaner
Writer: Fabian O'Hara
A streak of sweat ran down her face, pausing on her chin. She was in her full element.
Kathy Brown, pianist, composer and singer, showed her mettle as she backed for internationally acclaimed vocalist A.J. Brown. This in mid-November at a noontime concert in downtown Kingston.
The pianist has also shared stage with the likes of.....
Full story:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kingston's E-Park big band for Jazz & Blues Fest

E-Park Band, formed in 2005 with a glitter of Jamaica's music greats
like Dean Fraser, Glen Browne, Peter Ashbourne, Dwight Pickney, Michael Fletcher gets its moniker from its original bandstand at Kingston popular leisure spot Emancipation Park.

The band filled a vacancy created by the absence of a regular performing big Band Band in Jamaica.

Under the musical directorship of legendary pop, jazz pianist and conductor Peter Ashbourne, the rotating 11-piece band that attracts an all-star cast, is contingent on five rhythm section players and six wind instrumentalists , the smallest number of musicians that can successfully simulate the big band sound.

Cabaret star Karen Smith and crooner Michael Sean Harris make up the vocal contingent to enhance E-Park's repertoire that include jazz, Show, cabaret and popular music, both instrumental and vocal.

Turnkey Productions, organisers of the annual event, has sought to uprooted E-Park from the New Kingston Park to seed the Big Band at the fertile Aqueduct grounds in Montego Bay for a Saturday (January 24) showing at Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival.

E-Park Big Band

Hopeton Williams and Vivian Scott: trumpets
Romeo Gray/Calvin Cameron: trombone
Ian Hird: alto sax, flute
Nicholas Laraque/Everton Gayle: tenor sax, flute
Dean Fraser: baritone, alto sax
Desi Jones: drums
Glen Browne/Michael Fletcher: bass
Dwight Pickney: guitar
Othneil Lewis: keyboards
Peter Ashbourne: piano, conductor