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Jazz patrons ‘love it up’ on the Greens

Published: 
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Show-stopping panman Dane Gultson wowed the audience.

The 2016 Jazz Artists On The Greens, held on the spacious sports ground of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) compound in St Joseph on Saturday, afforded a large audience another opportunity to experience jazz music while reclining on mats, blankets and lounge chairs, sipping wine and other spirits, and consuming mouth-watering victuals. 

Founded in 2003, Jazz Artists on the Greens, produced by Production One Ltd, has grown from strength to strength, widening its audience and its base of regional performers. 

Showtime was 6.15 pm, more than an hour behind the advertised 5 pm. That, however, did not seem to matter to patrons, who arrived early to stake out their spot; those with tables and large coolers sat at the back. Groups of friends sat on blankets and passed around sandwiches, stuffed vol-au-vent pastries, fruit, and in one group, even delicious crispy-skin pork.

Many sipped wine and Prosecco from exquisite wine goblets. 

Opening act was vocalist Jason “Fridge” Seecharan, ably backed by guitarist Clifford Charles and his band. Seecharan sang a creditable rendition of Teddy Pendergrass’ 1978 release When Somebody Loves You Back, followed by a satisfying take on McFadden and Whitehead’s Ain’t No Stopping Us Now from 1979.

A founding member of now defunct singing group H2O Phlo, Seecharan had stage-side patrons joyously executing the intricate dance steps of the Electric Slide by the time he was into Barry White’s 1974 song, Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe.

Former Divine Echoes vocalist Moricia Cagan was next. She was at her best in delivering back-in-times songs such as I Will Survive (1978 song written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris), One Day I’ll Fly Away (from American jazz singer Randy Crawford’s 1980 album Now We May Begin, written by Joe Sample and Will Jennings); Wanna Make Love To You (sung by Nadie La Fond, and written by Richard “Nappy” Mayers in 1977); and Hey Pock A-Way (sung by The Meters way back in 1974).

Dean Williams with members of his TriniJazz band was up next. Williams has been featured beside the crème de la crème in Caribbean entertainment, though he may be best remembered as the only lead guitarist in the world to perform on moko jumbie stilts onstage while he was a member of soca band Xtatik. The group performed a mix of original and standard jazz selections, and introduced Llettesha Sylvester to fill the venue with her very popular range of stylish R&B selections. Another musician featured by Williams was saxophonist Tony Paul, a versatile wind musician who showed why he is in demand for many high-profile events. 

Headline act Cuban trumpeter Alexis Baro—here again by popular demand—brought the audience to their feet. One of the great things about the audience at this event is their ability to listen to and appreciate the craft and professionalism of the musicians even if they don’t know the music. They lapped up Baro’s Latin jazz sounds, especially the tunes Guilty Pleasure and Koytus from his latest album—also called Guilty Pleasure. 

Closing the show was pan player Dane Gulston, who inspired some patrons to sing and dance. Gulston, known for his energetic performances, did not disappoint on Saturday evening. He performed with a brilliant backing band and vibrant dancers. And, in true superstar style, Gulston even had a “costume change.” 

A highlight of Gulston’s set was veteran calypsonian Lord Superior (Andrew Marcano), who’s been in show business for more than 60 years. The women at the front of the crowd loved his rendition of Mighty Spoiler’s Bedbug. 

It might not have the scale of St Lucia Jazz Festival or even the Tobago Jazz Experience, but Jazz Artists on the Greens certainly entertains its loyal fans. The WASA Grounds on Farm Road, St Joseph, is a picturesque venue, and the acts deliver an enjoyable evening of jazz. 

Speaking to some of the patrons, you realise the picnic atmosphere is what many people look forward to at this event. Many said they wished the Tobago Jazz Experience offered this more relaxed vibe: “We don’t like the separation of the crowd into VIP and general at that event,” said one patron. “It would be so nice if chairs were optional and people could spread their blankets near the front. That kind of ambience is everything.”

(with reporting by Franka Philip)

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