A jazz pinnacle

Gabby showing his skill on pan.
Gabby showing his skill on pan.

An all-star Barbadian jazz cast brought the curtain down on the first leg of the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari, in the final show of the four day event. Held at the Naniki Lush Life Resort in Surinam, St. Joseph on Monday,†it was a cool afternoon of world class music from the moment it started with Calabaza led by drummer Errol Bradshaw, until it ended nearly five hours later with the 1688 Nonet (Plus Two), headlining Barbados’ own Gabby.

Some of the musicians and vocalists who performed at earlier events, including singers Nnenna Freelon and Patricia Lowe, got to sample even more of Barbados and its phenomenal musical talent.

Opening the daytime event was Calabaza, featuring Errol Bradshaw on drums, Andre Forde on pan, Richard Bill Evans on bass, Roger Gittens on piano,† Roger Edghill on percussion†and Jason Morris on sax. Characteristic of bands in Barbados, particularly in the jazz idiom, musicians play in multiple bands. Evans returned to the stage to play double bass with the Malcolm Griffith Quartet, and was joined by saxophonist Joseph Callender, Wendell Mason on piano and Griffith on electric acoustic, drums and vocals.

Jazz diva CiCi joined the quartet to render a few songs, including an original she described as “soppy, sweety, and great for romance”. Headlining †this group was Griffith, who constructed his set to pay tribute to Caribbean composers including Barbados’ own El Verno del Congo, Andre Woodvine and Irving Burgie. Joseph Callender and Andre Forde then changed shirts to join the 1688 Nonet (Plus Two), a section of the 1688 Orchestra largely comprising past and present students of the Barbados Community College’s music programme.

Organiser Tom Hinds and friends had a great time.
Organiser Tom Hinds and friends had a great time.

Headlining this group was none other than Dr. Anthony Carter aka Gabby, who chalked up yet another memorable performance with jazz interpretations of classics like Emmerton truly as we have never heard it before and in which trumpeter Shawn Layne did a solo that underscored the beautiful arrangement of the song; Bridgetown in a 6:8 timing; the jazz standard Summertime in which Gabby did wondrous things with his voice and band leader Stephan Walcott did a spouge arrangement; Riots in the Land which retained the folk and highlighted the jazz rhythm and Ol? Ash?, which underscored the Latin flavour of the calypso.

There was a near one hour wait to hear Gabby, due to a malfunctioning generator, but the music was really worth the wait. And if Gabby was great, what was even greater was the new arrangements of the compositions, all done by 1688 bandleader Stefan Walcott whose work was as much a highlight as Gabby’s jazz vocals.

Producer of the jazz event, Tom Hinds, is to be commended for reserving the final day of the inaugural concert series for an all-Bajan cast. The Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari continues in Antigua and St. Vincent in March and Grenada in April.††††

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