Adrian Frater, News Editor
The story of Jamaica's music was elegantly gift-wrapped and delivered with beauty, charm, and charisma as the 2014 edition of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival got going in a blaze of glory at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium on Thursday night.
From the vocally compelling Christopher Martin to emerging superstar Chronixx, dazzling veteran songbird Marcia Griffiths, and the 'Dancehall Doctor', Beenie Man, who made a memorable house call as Moses Davis, it satisfied from start to finish.
While all the acts, including veteran show band Chalice, were exemplary, the night essentially belonged to the evergreen Marcia Griffiths. She was supported by Nadine Sutherland, Tony Gregory, Daville, Tony Rebel, legendary songwriter-performer Bob Andy, Judy Mowatt, and dub poet Cherry Natural.
After being introduced by a Cherry Natural poem chronicling her longevity, Griffiths, who is celebrating 50 years in music, hit centrestage with the clock closing in on midnight. With the 809 Band in good nick, Griffiths opened her set regally with Shining Time.
With the spotlight settling on her black and white dress, it was fun and frolic as Marcia glided around the stage, wrapping her golden voice around Give Love A Try, Feel Like Dancing, and Dreamland, which had the audience joining in like a well-schooled choir.
Those who remained seated were eventually forced to vacate their chairs for Electric Boogie, strangers forming spontaneous 'boogie trains'.
After adding more musical delight with I Shall Sing, Closer To You, and Remember The Days, in which she showed crisp deejaying qualities, Griffiths made way temporarily for Nadine Sutherland, the first of her guests. Sutherland quickly made her presence felt, masterfully delivering Griffiths' hits, including Truly.
Griffiths, who changed outfits while Sutherland was paying her tribute, returned clad in a gold dress, along with Tony Gregory. Together, they took the house down with You are Mine before Gregory kept the tempo at a peak with Gypsy Girl.
Daville joined Griffiths for All My Life and Tony Rebel followed, gelling sweetly with Griffiths on Land of Love and Fire Burning.
It was a historic moment when Bob Andy joined Griffiths and they rolled the clock back to the 1960s. With a video of them performing together in the big-heeled shoes and Afros on the backdrop screen, they effortlessly dazzled with classics We Belong and the lyrically militant Young, Gifted and Black.
Griffiths, who was presented with a plaque for service to music by the festival's organisers, went nostalgic when her I-Threes colleague, Judy Mowatt, joined her on stage. Together, they delved into Bob Marley's catalogue, delighting with No Woman No Cry, Buffalo Soldier, Iron Lion Zion, Could You Be Loved, and Exodus. For the last, guests who had performed earlier returned to put a lid on Griffiths' excellent set.