Sunday, June 8, 2014

First Full Day in Grenada - Jazz and More

Cruiser on keyboards, Professor Brown on soprano sax

Friday, June 6th 2014 -We went back to the Grenada National Museum for their First Friday show.  We got there at 6pm, a tad late for the 5:30 show.  The room was dark and a man was lecturing.  Hum?  This isn't jazz.  However there were instruments set up in the front of the small room.  Had we already missed the jazz?  Hum?  We stood in the back listening and accessing the situation, not wanting to commit to seats just yet.  Professor Leonard Brown from Northeastern University, Boston MA is here in Grenada for two weeks with a group of college kids on The Afro-Caribbean Music Research Project Grenada 2014.  He was speaking about this program and the importance of Afro-Caribbean music for all black people.  It was interesting so we took seats in the front row - committed ourselves BIG time.
Most songs were instrumental only but this guy sang some on "Summertime"
Soon he wrapped up his presentation and the front of the room filled with musicians and the jazz started.  Oh man did the jazz start.  It was.......amazing.  No, that can't even begin to describe it.  We were blown away. turns out that none of these musicians had every played together before. This was a sit-in jam session and then some.  However it didn't seem that way as they all gelled together as if they had been practicing and playing together for years.  I counted 11 musicians.  All were from Grenada with the exception of Professor Brown (from Boston) and the keyboard player, who we learned after the show, is a cruiser from Bulgaria living on his boat at Hog Island Grenada for hurricane season.  He sails with his keyboard onboard his boat.
Jazz with a hip hop singer
On a break, a young group of five local musicians played jazz hip hop.  It was okay and interesting to listen to.  There was also a poetry reading by a young Grenada woman.  I am not a huge fan of poetry, probably because I haven't given it a chance.  At the very least, I don't enjoy reading it.  However her poem was very good.
Poetry reading of an original piece
Then the jazz musicians hit the stage again.  Whoa!  A few more showed up for 13 total.  Two soprano sax, an alto sax, tender sax, trombone, trumpet, clarinet, bass, guitar, drums, keyboard, percussion, harmonica/flute.  They played old rival type church hymns like "When The Saints Go Marching In" and such.  There was also a terrific jazz interpretation of Gershwin's "Summertime".  After each tune the musicians had HUGE grins on their faces.  They seemed to be enjoying this even more than the crowd if that was possible and trust me, we were all digging it!
Young jazz singer when everyone else wants to be another Rihanna
On another break, a young local woman got up to sing jazz with a few of the jazz players.  There was also another poetry reading by yet another young female poet.  Her poem was about the poor treatment of young Caribbean women in the Caribbean culture.  Very powerful.  The encouragement of arts in youth came through very strongly throughout the evening.

The Bulgaria keyboard player kicked off the final set by himself playing a two heavy duty classical pieces.  OMG!  Nether of us is up enough on classic music to tell you what the two pieces were but you would all recognized them if you heard them.
Trumpet solo and a corner FULL of brass
Did I mention that this wasn't a big room.  The 13 musicians filled the entire front of it.  Sitting in the front row on folding chairs we were 3 feet from the action.  When and where would we ever be at such an awesome jazz show and be THAT close?  Maybe if we became jazz roadies and had to run out and fix some microphone issue during a show.  Other than that, never!
Trombone solo
It finally wrapped up around 9'ish.  We shook hands with several of the musicians and told them how much we enjoyed it.  They thanked us back and said they too had a great time.  We also visited briefly with Professor Brown.  He of course knows of Kansas City Jazz and actually helped with the early stages of the Jazz Museum that is there.  We discussed the sad state of jazz in America today.
Guy sitting on the stage acted as band leader.  His shirt said "Customs" on the back.
We finished up the evening by having a late dinner at the museum cafe.  Such a wonderful night.  

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