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Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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‘Refreshingly different’ concert from Élan Parlé
Many changes, improvisations and experiments have taken place in jazz music since its inception in the 1920s. But even today the genre cannot be defined in a few simple words. Once described as “folk music of the machine age,” jazz is really music that flows from the heart and appeals to the soul.
This Is Élan Parlé—The Concert Experience, hosted by Curtain Call Consulting Co, and staged at Queen's Hall in St Ann's last Saturday evening, validated the concept in an event that charted the popular fusion band’s musical history from its inception in 2000 to the present.
“Refreshingly different,” was how one happy patron summed up the two-hour showcase by Elan Parle, an aggregation that puts a contemporary jazz perspective to the musical and cultural traditions of T&T.
The playbill featured favourites from its wide repertoire of original compositions, as well as selections from its highly anticipated new album, I Am Élan Parlé: Port-of-Spain, all cheerfully executed by leader/composer/arranger Michael “Ming” Low Chew Tung on keyboards, Anthony Woodruffe on saxophone, Dean Williams on guitar, Rodney Alexander on bass, Richard Joseph on drums, and Modupe Onilu on percussion.
Patrons had the rare opportunity to hear from Low Chew Tung, the stories behind some of the original songs and rhythms that they have come to love over the years that fuse Caribbean, jazz and world beat motifs into seamless and “spirited conversations,” (the loose translation for Elan Parle).
The programme opened promptly at 7.30 pm with the band doing the appropriately themed Lift Off from its album Caribbean Renaissance, and followed with Outta Da Blue, in which bassist Alexander performed a dazzling solo that had patrons cheering loudly. Mating Call was followed by Mama, Johnny, Grover's Groove, Baby Are We Grooving Yet, Sambo, and Jacket, which featured a light-hearted, entertaining musical face-off between guitarist Williams and saxophonist Woodruffe.
After the interval, vocalist Kerwin Trotman joined the aggregation to engage the audience in a robust sing-along as he rendered David Rudder's Calypso Music and Long Time Band, with Low Chew Tung sharing the information that Rudder was “the man who holds the soundtrack to my life,” and Trotman and himself had cut their musical teeth in performing with ace musician Pelham Goddard and Charlie's Roots. The session was an uptempo one with lots of audience interaction, and featured joyful selections such as Just Another F Jam, Kaiso Love, Selafrika, and Port-of-Spain and East And Bull from the band's soon-to-be-released new album. Élan Parlé has been a dominant figure on the local jazz scene since 2000. The band has been a staple at the Tobago Jazz Festival and the San Fernando Jazz on the Hill.
It has also performed in festivals such as the Virgin Gorda Jazz on the Hill in the British Virgin Islands, St Maarten SummerFest Jazz Night, the Grenada Spice Jazz Festival, St Kitts Music Festival and the St Vincent and the Grenadines Blues Festival, to name a few.
The concert, seven years after its last in 2006, paid tribute to Élan Parlé founding member Wayne Cotoy, who died of cancer in 2004.
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