Fresh Sound / New Talent


Jamaica Gleaner (review from Ocho Rios Jazz Festival)
By Winston Wilson, Jr., Staff Reporter

SATURDAY'S INSTALLMENT of the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival pleased the small turnout in no small way, first with the high quality of the musical presentations and then with persons being honoured with awards. It was Saturday, June 16 -- the penultimate day of the Ocho Rios 11th Annual Jazz Festival. A concert and awards night was held at the Windsor Ballroom, Renaissance Jamaica Grande Hotel, Ocho Rios. Performances swept the night from the Doron Johnson Jazz Ambassadors, the Terrence Blanchard Group, Ernie Ranglin and Irene Reid. It was hard to put a premium on anyone in particular since they all inspired.

Doron Johnson and company started the evening with Copenhagen and continued through the rest of their set with numbers from Louis Armstrong's repertoire. With Johnson on piano, Michael Blanco on double bass and Ted Baker on tenor saxophone, the instruments united to give the sweetest, most enchanting thrill. I Found a New Baby, Stars Fell On Alabama, Trinkle Tinkle and What A Wonderful World found new wings and soared to new musical heights. The trio have been playing together since only May 2001, yet they delivered with delightful maturity and skill.

The jazz ambassadors explored phrasing and tempo, answer and call, as each musician got his moment in the sun. Johnson's fingers kissed the piano keys like the sunset that had beckoned the night. Blanco dwarfed the double bass with his musical prowess. His expert fingers coasted on the strings to make exciting stops in the most interesting places. Baker gave up both drones and short, sweet notes. The audience occasionally interrupted the group with spontaneous applause.

Terrence Blanchard puffed his cheeks and blew and his trumpet released pleasant notes one after the other. He was fiery and urging, smooth and soothing as he made the audience tap or nod along and couples snuggle closer. A true master of his instrument Blanchard was accompanied by, Edward Simon (piano), Derek Nievergelt (bass), Bryce Winston (tenor saxophone) and Eric Harland (drums). Good music was the theme of the night as raw beauty escaped the instruments to caress the patrons. The first half came to a close with rousing applause.

A spirited, sexually explicit performance from Irene Reid closed the night. Myrna Hague, Ivy Graydon, Jackie Jackson, Fab 5, Peter Asbourne, Desmond Jones, Dean Fraser, Karen Smith, Winston Blake and Byron Lee were given special Millennium Awards for their roles in the development of Jamaican music. Past presidents of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians, Seymour Mullings, Horace Abrahams, Robert Peart, Headley Jones and Sonny Bradshaw were also honoured.