A Foggy night of jazz
IT was a ‘Foggy Night’ in more ways than one on opening day of the 25th Jamaica Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival at Ashe Performing Centre in St Andrew, Saturday.
With grey clouds hovering, the handful of jazz lovers, headed by former Prime Minister PJ Patterson, enjoyed an evening dedicated to late politician/pianist Seymour ‘Foggy’ Mullings.
A former deputy prime minister of Jamaica, Mullings performed regularly at ‘Jazz’. He died in 2013 at age 82.
Hosted by Festival Director Myrna Hague, the event began with pianist Marjorie Whylie reflecting on Mullings’ contribution to Jamaican music, as well as his deep knowledge and understanding of jazz.
«I met Foggy when I was 15 years of age at a jam session at Champion House (a Kingston restaurant and hang-out) at the corner of Lyndhurst Road and Maxfield Avenue. At the time I was learning to play the vibraphone, being tutored by Teddy Mowatt,» Whylie told the audience. «I was totally captivated by Foggy’s gentle, creative, sophistication, spreading the chords across both hands… it was jazz my 15-year-old ears understood and fingers itched to follow his lead.»
She did ‘Foggyesque’ interpretations of Polkadots and Moonbeams, and the standard My Favorite Things.
The grand dame of the ivories ended her stint with a Latin medley that included Gallandar, Brazil and East of The Sun.
Keyboardist Lloyd ‘Obeah’ Denton (formerly of the Riddim Kings Band), displayed his diversity, adeptness and sensitivity on Tenor Madness, My Favourite Things and Body and Soul.
Haitian singer Zina gave an impressive performance of the Etta James classic At Last and the Gershwin gem Summertime.
The Ralph Holding Quartet was on point with straight ahead offerings. Led by Holding on piano, with Tony Moss on bass, Big C on drums, and Mark Gooden on sax, their delightful selections comprised timeless numbers such as People Make The World Go Round, Natural Mystic, Foggy Day In London Town and Killer Joe.
South African singer Lorraine Klaasen had the full attention of the gathering. Supported by Desi Jones on drums, Dale Haslam on bass, Chris McDonald on keyboards, Congo Bill on percussions, guitarist Maurice Gordon and Winsome Benjamin on vocals, Klaasen admitted: «I am not a jazz singer, I am an African singer.»
She brought proceedings to a thrilling close with the Click Song, Jolinkomo, Mina Nawe, Malaika and Unomeva. Honouring her mother’s request, she also did All of Me, Lady Is A Tramp, Teach Me Tonight, and And I Love You So.
The Jamaica Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival was established in 1991by Hague’s husband, the late band leader Sonny Bradshaw as a one-day showcase. It grew to a week-long event geared at fans of traditional jazz. Bradshaw died in 2009 at age 83.
The festival continues with Jazz Brunch at the Hotel Four Seasons in St Andrew tomorrow.
Ocho Rios Jazz Tribute For Seymour ‘Foggy’ Mullings
Mention the late Seymour ‘Foggy’ Mullings and the first thing that comes to mind is his role as a politician as a member of the People’s National Party, where he left an outstanding legacy as touching the lives of thousands of persons while he served as member of parliament in North East St Ann.
What many persons might not know is that the late consummate politician, who served as minister of finance, agriculture and foreign affairs and foreign trade and also deputy prime minister, had another burning passion: that of music.
When the curtains go up on the 25th Annual Jamaica Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival this evening at the new and intimate setting of The Ashe Performing Arts Company’s Cargill Avenue location, patrons will be treated to history lessons on the brilliant musical career of the late politician.
Mullings, who earned the nickname ‘Foggy’ through a musical rendition during his school days at Jamaica College, worked as a jazz pianist from the 1940s to the 1960s, playing with the likes of legendary Jamaican musicians like trumpeter Sonny Bradshaw, saxophonist Bertie King, and bassist Cluett Johnson. He was also organist at the Anglican Church in Cayman. Mullings also served as president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians and was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997.
Bringing Mullings’ music to life on stage will be inimitable keyboardists Ozou’ne and Lloyd Denton. The commencement of the celebrations of the 25th milestone of the festival will also showcase the return of South African diva Lorraine Klassen, bringing her vibrant vocals to the opening night along with the distinguished musician and cultural researcher Marjorie Whylie. Drummer extraordinaire Desi Jones and Friends will be in charge of musical accompaniment and direction.
Browne For Jazz Brunch
After what is expected to be an exhilarating opening night, patrons can ease into Sunday morning with Jazz Brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel at 11 a.m., where the sweet sounds of more jazz will emanate from prolific guitarist Robert Browne, who promises to entertain with a fusion of the jazz genre with reggae and rock.
Other events to take place during jazz week are two free Jazz Jams (June 2 and 5) at the Four Seasons Hotel and a free music seminar and workshop for music students and teachers titled ‘History of Jazz in the Caribbean’, scheduled for The Mico University College on Thursday, June 4, at 10 a.m. The event will be facilitated by festival director Myrna Hague Bradshaw, and curator of the Jamaica Music Museum at the Institute of Jamaica, Herbie Miller, and other visiting performers in the festival.
The festival will close on Sunday, June 7, at the Hope Botanical Gardens, 12 p.m.
to 6 p.m.
Sponsors for the festival include The Jamaica Tourist Board, KOOL FM, Ashe, Hotel Four Seasons, Labels and Supplies, and The Gleaner Company.