Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
There was nothing surprising about the prompt start of a concert featuring the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Mass Band and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Band. By nature of their roles, they are expected to conform to punctuality.
But what, perhaps, was refreshingly surprising was the arsenal of musical items from the groups. Reggae, jazz, folk, pop and classic were all well delivered.
The special joint JDF and JCF concert was held at the Shell Band Stand located on the grounds of the Hope Royal Botanic Gardens last Sunday. The audience, seated on chairs, or blankets placed on the evenly cut lawns, was called to attention with musical fanfare, and the first spell of light raindrops.
The musical feast began with a reinforcement of the magnificence of the venue with Jerome Moross' The Big Country.
Subsequently, Dmitri Shostakovich's Festive Overture, and the Albert Hird-arranged No Man is an Island followed.
Also contributing to an entertaining first half were medleys of the sounds of jazz from the late Glenn Miller, popular Jamaican mento tunes, The Symphonic Beatles and Michael, in tribute to Jackson who passed in 2009.
Conductors were Woi Albert S. Hird and DSP Winston Woolcock.
However, while all the selections of the first half of An Evening of Music were given the expected instrumental treatment, part two showed the JDF and JCF men and women in a different light.
Most of the instruments aside and a change in costumes, it was time to deliver songs such as Night Nurse, My Girl, Book of Rules and Lion Paw.
Corporal Mervin Chin, Inspector Damian McCarthy and Shaneka Murray were the vocalists. But, alas, the programme ended prematurely as it began to rain. But that did not prevent those who ignored the looming showers from enjoying the show.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Jevene Bent and Member of Parliament Andre Hylton were in attendance. Both enjoyed the performances.
Bent, who was attending her first Shell Bandstand concert, lauded the bands for their combined effort and thought "there were lots of talents".
She really enjoyed the concert, but was somewhat disappointed that there were no gospel selections.
"I would have loved to have heard some gospel," she said.
Hylton described the concert as excellent. And also said, "I think we should do this more often. It is so nice to see persons of different age groups sit down on their mats on the grass and just enjoy the show. And the quality of music and the variety of music is really something to experience. I quite enjoyed it."
Series of performances
The special joint JDF and JCF bands concert was organised by the Nature Preservation Foundation (NPF). The concert served to launch and promote the 2013 series of performances by the individual bands, as well as to announce that Her Excellency the Most Honourable Lady Allen is the first patron of the Hope Royal Botanic Garden in almost two centuries.
In the absence of Lady Allen, who was on a prior engagement, Ambassador Evadne Coye acknowledged the patronage on her behalf.
Other plans for the last large remaining green space in Jamaica's capital was shared with The Sunday Gleaner by Leslie Chung, chairman of NPF.
"There is a 10-year development plan for the gardens which we are about to initialise and it will commence with ground breaking for the Chinese Gardens, which is a gift from the People's Republic of China," she said.
There will also be a new maze that will be futuristic in design. A cocktail reception was also held to show appreciation to all who contributed to the development of the 237-acre garden.