Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wynton Kelly was a superb accompanist with Jamaican roots

Son of a Jamaican mother and a Trinidadian father, Wynton Kelly was born in Brooklyn, New York December 2, 1931 and he started his professional career as a teenager, initially as a member of R&B groups. After working in the big band and small groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, he was a member of Miles Davis' Quintet from 1959 to 1963.

Wynton Kelly, the uncle of fiery bassist Marcus Miller and grand niece of Lil'Kim, was one of the most prolific sideman pianists of his era, performing on scores of jazz albums, and led albums under his own name for the Riverside and Vee-Jay labels. After leaving Davis's group, along with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, he formed a trio which worked regularly during the 1960s.

A superb accompanist, loved by Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley, Wynton Kelly was also a distinctive soloist who decades later would be a strong influence on Benny Green. He grew up in Brooklyn and early on played in R&B bands led by Eddie Vinson, Hal Singer, and Eddie Davis. Kelly, who recorded 14 albums for Blue Note in a trio (1951), worked with Dinah Washington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Lester Young during 1951-1952.

After serving in the military, he made a strong impression with Washington (1955-1957), Charles Mingus (1956- 1957), and the Dizzy Gillespie big band (1957), but he would be most famous for his stint with Miles Davis (1959-1963), recording such albums with Miles as Kind of Blue, At the Blackhawk, and Someday My Prince Will Come. When he left Davis, Kelly took the rest of the rhythm section (bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb) with him to form his trio. The group actually sounded at its best backing Wes Montgomery.

Wynton Kelly died in April 1971

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Desi Jones: Most sought after drummer on Jamaica jazz scene

Jamaican drummer Desi Jones, leader of the Skool band and celebrated drummer of the international reggae band Chalice, was in 1976 introduced to the legendary trumpeter and big band leader Sonny Bradshaw, and purely by chance.

“I was playing congas for the Eddie Thomas Dance Group at CARIFESTA and the drummer for the Sonny Bradshaw Seven met in an accident. I was then introduced to Mr. Bradshaw by [saxophonist] Dean Frazer as a stand in. He took the chance and allowed me to play for the band that day. Later in the year I was offered the job and I took it," Jones reminisced.

Today Jones is an expert drummer and with Chalice being inactive, is probably the most sought after drummer on the Jamaica jazz scene. Still, musically, his style runs the range of reggae, jazz, Latin and Jamaican traditional beats, a diversity that led him to Skool since 1988.

"I get inspiration from the knowledge that with just a simple beat I can make people dance. The drums can also make a person's mood change from joy to sadness," he said.

Although he has never released a solo album, Desi Jones, produced, arranged and played on a number of CDs for Mutabaruka, Carlene Davis, Peter Ashbourne, Dr. Kathy Brown, Skool Band and (the album) The Art Of Reggae Drumming".

Pianist Dr. Kathy Brown seeks opportunities to perform overseas

The little girl from mid-island Jamaica played the family piano at age 5 and by late teen she knew exactly what she wanted to be in life, a musician. Her parents being academicians counseled on the fickleness of the music business suggesting instead a career in medicine.

KathyBrown was performing small gigs throughout medical school all the time honing her piano playing skills, then she discovered jazz and found her niche. “My music is definitively a crossover between jazz and indigenous forms of music whether it is reggae, Latin and afro-Brazilian styles”.

Today, KathyBrown M.D. pianist, composer, bandleader, recording artist is a consummate jazz pianist with a CD Kathy Brown: A Musical Journey and lead her KathyBrown & Friends band, a favourite on the Jamaican jazz landscape.
The Jamaican pianist’s intense desire to play overseas got on the road in August 2007 when she was invited to play at the Island Soul Festival in Toronto, Canada. And, so began a musical journey that has taken her to Suriname, Antigua & Barbuda, Grand Cayman, Austria, New York, and Florida where she appeared with outstanding cabaret singer Sabrina Williams at Bistro Soleil on Marco Island, Naples prior to a raved performance at the Jazz Gallery at Miami jazz radio WDNA 88.9FM.

Dr. KathyBrown appeared several times at the Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival opening for Roy Ayres (2007) and Latin music heartthrob Jon Secada (2010), Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival, and Port Royal Music Festival. She has shared stage with Jamaica’s great guitarist Ernest Ranglin, famed trumpeter Mickey Hanson, Japanese multi-reedist Hiroaki Honshuku, and veteran bassist for Monty Alexander and music producer Glen Browne.

With jazz a spatter on the Jamaica music landscape, KathyBrown, the All About Jazz musician, avidly seeks opportunities to perform her “true crossover” of “different music style” to audiences overseas.