Monty Alexander & Ernie Ranglin, more than a concert
On Sunday, time stood still when Monty Alexander and Ernie Ranglin delivered a concert that left an indelible mark on their audience. Held as a fundraiser for The McCam Child Care and Development Centre, the concert attracted a very large turnout that included actor Alwyn Scott and renowned storyteller Amina Blackwood-Meeks.
Scott told The Gleaner: "The show was fantastic. Those two are such icons. And the fact that after so many years they still have that energy [and] are able to perform for sustainable periods and engage the audience in that way was wonderful. It was a really significant night tonight, beautiful."
According to Blackwood-Meeks, it was a learning moment. "There is so much to learn about how pioneers cannot be displaced or dislodged. There is so much to ponder. Where are their contemporaries? It was just so much fuller than the brilliance of the music. It was just a great evening."
The evening began with 86-year-old Ranglin. His entrance to the stage of The Jamaica Pegasus hotel ballroom transfixed the audience. With skill and passion, he not only demonstrated a love and passion for his art, but was able to pull everyone into his musical experience. He began, aptly, with his jazz composition Memories of Senegal, following it up with a tribute to Usain Bolt titled 9.58.
Vocalists Gem Myers and Jermaine Blake (individually) joined Ranglin and his four supporting musicians to deliver finger-snapping renditions of My Boy Lollipop and It Hurts to Be Alone. Both songs were arranged by the guitarist.
Part two of the programme was a continuation of excellence when Monty Alexander took over. He began by stating, "There was a time when we used to make records, but we don't anymore. The only records we make now is prison records." On that note, MC Fae Ellington ushered him to his piano to speak the language of music. And when he got going, it was pure magic - occasionally interrupted by the pianist sharing engaging childhood stories. Between the stories, he was support by his Harlem Kingston Express, which treated the audience to songs such as People Make the World Go Round, Marcus Garvey Words Come to Pass, Look Up and Duke Ellington's composition, Love You Madly.
And that was just what was achieved in the closing section of the programme when Ranglin joined him on stage. Ranglin, it seemed, had saved the best for last. As they both played King Tubby, followed by Love Notes, Ranglin seemed to be having an intimate conversation with his guitar - tweaking notes and sound with great imagination and skill.
Too soon the evening ended, but not before the presentation of plaques to Alexander, who came to Jamaica directly from Montreal for the show, and Ranglin, who was scheduled to depart the island yesterday.