Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jamaican trumpeter Sonny Bradshaw

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