JAZZ JAMAICA Old Fruitmarket. Glasgow, Fri 6 Jul.
live Millen, the director of the Glenmorangie
Glasgow Jazz Festival, will be excused the odd painful wince as the Jazz Jamaica gig draws close. Back in 1996, Olive booked the band to headline at the Dunoon Jazz Festival, only to find a series of travel delays meant that they missed the last available ferry from Glasgow, and consequently the gig.
There should be no such problems for their late-night gig at the jazz festival, where their exuberant fusion of jazz and jamdown will turn the Old Fruitmarket into a Jamaican dance hall. The band play some serious music, but the accent is definitely on fun - as Gary Crosby says, their mission is a simple one: ‘to make people dance and enjoy themselves’.
Jazz Jamaica have been around for a decade now, and came out of a London music scene where a new generation of young black jazz musicians, led by Courtney Pine and the Jazz Warriors Big Band, were generating a lot of publicity. Those musicians had all grown up with reggae as a pervasive musical influence, and readily acknowledged its importance in their musical development. It was bassist Gary Crosby (very much part of that new jazz scene and continuing the tradition now through the Tomorrow’s Warriors band) who took that influence a stage further in 1991.
Crosby’s inspiration was to combine his jazz leanings not only with reggae, but also various other elements drawn from Jamaican music, primarily mento, calypso,
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and especially the bouncy, energised ska of musicians like Jackie Mittoo and The Skatalites. The resulting mixture, playfully dubbed ‘skazz‘, proved to be a joyous compound of dancefloor mayhem, interwoven with more complex musical elaborations.
Initially, Crosby turned to a well-established horn section with strong roots in reggae, soul and jazz, featuring Rico Rodriguez (trombone), Eddie ‘Tan-Tan’ Thornton (trumpet) and Michael ‘Bammie‘ Rose (saxes), with Clifton ‘Bigga' Morrison on keyboards. He added the fresh talents of several young jazzers from the London scene to this nucleus, including guitarist Alan Weekes and drummer Kenrick Rowe, and turned them loose on material which drew on both Jamaican and jazz sources, with electrifying results.
The personnel has changed somewhat over the years, although Thornton, Weekes and Rowe (and, of course, Crosby himself) are still in place, but the principle remains the same, and has lost none of its bubbling, effervescent appeal along the way.
Nor does change mean regression — the current line- up features a horn section with MOBO award winning saxophonist Denys Baptiste alongside saxophonist Soweto Kinch, trombonist Harry Brown and Eddie Thornton, while Ahmed Ben lmhotep (first heard in these parts with Courtney Pine) is on keyboards, and Tony Uter on percussion. Their other trump card is vocalist Juliet Roberts, who adds yet another dimension to their colourful musical canvas. Prepare to party. (Kenny Mathieson)
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ADDITIONS TO T ON THE Fringe for August include The Bluetones, Spearhead. Alfie. The Avalanches and The Dirty Three. See Book now on page 50 for full dates and venue details.
EDINBURGH AMERICANA singer/songwriter Dean Owens is to play a free acoustic set at Virgin Megastore on Princes Street, Edinburgh. The show, on Monday 16 July at 4pm is to launch the retail distribution of his latest album The Droma
WEEZER HAVE BEEN forced to pull out of their appearance at this year's T in the Park. The band apologise to fans but blame ‘promotional commitments‘ was the reason behind the cancellations. It is likely however, that the band will organise dates for later in the year.
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