Jamaica Jazz and Blues Night 1: High note signals festival's magical return
A high note from the winners of the Band Quest signalled the magical return of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival after a five-year hiatus.
The organisers continued the tradition of providing a space for new and emerging artistes to showcase their talent, and this they did. Opening act, the 8 Band, a tight, versatile and smooth all-boy aggregation, took command of the stage and started their set with the Jackson 5 song Want You Back and flowed to Earth Wind and Fire’s September, followed by Maroon 5’s Misery.
They then changed up the notes and took it local with classics including Simmer Down by Johnny Clarke and Alton Ellis’ I’ m Still In Love. The group closed their set with their own single, Universal Love, which viewers loved. The members of 8, all past students of Jamaica College, received big nods of approval from the viewers for their on-point harmonies, great original music, and for playing ska as it ought to be played.
Making a dramatic entrance was Rayven Amani and Mission Driven, their energy high as they performed. “I am black without apology”, was their anthem as they set the Jamaica Jazz and Blues stage alight.
The band comprises keyboard players Jalon Higgins and Dean Mitchell, who is also a music teacher at Pembroke Hall High School; bass player Travis French and drummer Christopher ‘Juica Drumz’ Henry, who are both students at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts; past students of Alpha Boy’s saxophonist Daniel ‘Richie Sax’ Richards and trombonist Jordan Moncrieffe; guitarist Keith Wilson; and supporting vocalist Juvell ‘Annaje’ McKenzie.
The theme for this year’s festival is 'Bringing Back the Magic'.
The three-night event continues Friday and Saturday night. Some of the confirmed acts are John Secada, Richie Stephens, Jah9, Sevana, Tessellated, Lila Ikè, and Saint Lucian soca artiste Teddyson John and the Teddyson John Project.