Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor
It's been awhile since the city of Kingston has been treated to a serving of pure jazz by capable musicians who know their music as against those who played from memory of the feel-good factor. Not since entrepreneur and musicologist and music historian Herbie Miller's fabulous Blue Monk Jazz Club located in Kings Plaza. That was way back in the 1980s!
Many purists starved as they are of the true commodity are willing to embrace any offering that boldly proclaim jazz.
Kingston, however, and her reservoir of jazz lovers go way, way back. Indeed, the city's passion for jazz harkens to the days when Jamaica's own musical identity was starting to take its own shape, and commensurate with the evolution of the time, jazz music and performers led to a new cadre of dancers - the tap dancers - whose leather shoes, polished to perfection and soles adorned with steel studs and platelets made for quite the entertainer, wherever jazz music was en vogue.
Indeed, one recalls when jazz at the Surrey Tavern was an event not to be missed, especially when legendary Sonny Bradshaw and the incomparable Myrna Hague were in command performance.
Alas, the jazz at the Surrey Tavern ran its course, and this gave way to the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, but since the days of the Blue Monk and the Surrey Tavern, jazz jamming in the nation's capital has not been the same.
Well, two Wednesdays ago, the Embassy of Spain, in association with the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation and the Arts Foundation of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, hosted an evening of Jazz Flamenco Fusion at the Courtleigh Corporate Centre and Auditorium that was truly fabulous musical experience of the fabulous order, and then some!
Now, the featured musicians were the CMS Trio, Perico Sambeat, a classically trained flautist, and a self-taught saxophonist; Javier Colina, reputed to be one of the very best double bass players on the European scene; and Marc Miralta, on drums, and my luvs, how! All visiting from Spain and renowned for their fusion of jazz with different rhythms and musical experiences, such as Flamenco and Cuban music.
Now marry their repertoire with a flamenco dancer in the celebrated personage of Sara Barrero Ferreiro, a native of Barcelona, Spain, and the Jamaican sensuality and frivolity of Marlon Simms and Kerry-Ann Henry, and what do you have? A musical explosion here!
Well, my dears, the CMS Trio did not disappoint, as the obviously consummate musicians and professionals to boot captured their audience with their pathea-laden notes that simply communicated the history of jazz. The supreme and accompanying irony being here is a music that was first the experience and soul of inner-city blacks of the Americas circa early 1900s that was co-opted and some say made popular by white European musicians, and now being played in Kingston, Jamaica, by a trio of Spaniards, some of our early colonisers!
Talk about coming full circle!
And for those who think that when it comes to music, 'white people have no soul', then they need to sit in on one of CMS Trio performances, as dears, last Wednesday evening, the Courtleigh Corporate Centre and Auditorium bore witness to the soul of drummer Marc Miralta; Javier Colina, who made the Double Bass not just talked, but sighed at intervals; and Perico Sambeat, who was showed flashes of early Miles Davis brilliance, on his sax. They took their audience on a musical odyssey as they served up variations of Monk, Cole Porter, to Consuelo Velazquez, and the musical pièce de résistance being Miriam Makeba's signature, Pata-Pata that got the audience in the groove!
Dears, it was like that and then some, as the musicians brought their A-game and played it well. And while Marlon Simms and Kerry-Ann Henry got in character the minute they accessed the stage for their two appearances, it took an encore to bring out the "slampata" stamping, skirt-swirling, drama enhancing attitude of the temptress, with echoes of the Toreador, a La Bizet, from Flamenco dancer Sara Barrero Ferreiro. And precious angels, when she got in character, she was a beauty to behold and then some, as she made for a fabulous finale to an evening compèred by the inimitable diva of radio, Paula-Anne Porter-Jones.
With among those out were Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips and wife, Mrs Sandra Minott Phillips, QC; Minister of State Arnaldo Brown, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; The Most Hon Glynne Manley; Spanish Ambassador Her Excellency Señora Celsa Nuño and husband Alex Crowther; the esteemed Pat Ramsay; Paul Issa; ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Brazil, Antonio DaCosta Silva Neto, and his charmingly beautiful wife, Sylvia Ruschel; Maurice and Valerie Facey; Peter and Beverly Rousseau; Lois Sherwood; the charming Jane Issa; principal of the Edna Manley College Nicholeen DeGrasse-Johnson and Patrick and Marguerite Lynch.