It was Christmas 2012.
Single mom, Cheryl Alexander, lived with her four children in a small house in Jacob’s Hill, Wallerfield blocked around with plywood and galvanise sheets.
Holy Cross College, on Calvary Hill, Arima, is expected to groove to the sounds of jazz on May 11 when A Mother’s Day All Star Tribute to Ralph MacDonald is being staged. This event is embellished with some of the best jazz exponents money can afford including trumpeter Etienne Charles, Barbadian saxophonist Arturo Tappin, American bassist Marcus Miller, panman extraordinaire Robert Greenidge, Kris Bowers, Barbados’ Nicholas Brancker, Gary Fritz, Buddy Williams, American songstress Nadirah Shakoor and Dennis Collins. Admission is a mere $250 (US$40).
The concert is being staged by the past pupils and PTA of Holy Cross College. Past pupil Neil Walcott said that this is the first jazz event to be staged by organisers. Previous fund-raisers include Soca on the Hill at Carnival and Chefs on the Hill at Christmas.
“We have been planning this jazz show for the past three years,” said Walcott. “I am a lover of all music and met Etienne Charles some time ago. Seeing him on Carnival TV I got his number from Hans Des Vignes, and we had a meeting.”
Walcott said that Charles has been of tremendous help to him and the committee.
Asked why the event was called A Mother’s Day All Star Tribute to Ralph MacDonald, Walcott explained: “Ralph MacDonald’s Grammy Award-winning Just The Two of Us is from my era in music as a youth. The idea for the theme was actually Etienne’s who has a passion for MacDonald’s music. When the I found out that MacDonald had Trini roots the committee thought that it would be an honour to MacDonald and his family to do a tribute to him.
“I find that our government should have done more for Mac Donald especially for all that he had done for T&T via his music. I have approached Minister of Arts & Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas to even contribute a plaque in MacDonald’s memory.”
Special guests of honour at the concert are MacDonald’s widow Grace and his son Atiba.
Walcott added: “We have a hard working committee for this fund-raiser and we have been getting tremendous help from past principal Peter Estrada, leader of Los Tocadores parang group. The committee also includes Mark Maharaj, Dave Maharaj, Phillip Raphael, Brenda Bynoe-Pierre and Anslem Thompson.”
A Mother’s Day All Star Tribute to Ralph MacDonald—The American cast
Marcus Miller is widely considered as outstanding American jazz composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist, and is best known as a bass guitarist. Throughout his career, Miller worked with renowned trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Herbie Hancock, singer Luther Vandross, and saxophonist David Sanborn, as well as maintaining a successful solo career. Miller is classically trained as a clarinetist and also plays keyboards, saxophone and guitar.
Miller has won numerous Grammy awards as a producer for Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, David Sanborn, Bob James, Chaka Khan and Wayne Shorter. He won a Grammy award for Best R&B Song in 1992, for Luther Vandross’ Power of Love and in 2001 he won for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for his fourth solo instrumental album, M2.
In 2012 Miller was appointed an UNESCO Artist for Peace supporting and promoting the UNESCO Slave Route Project.
Nadirah Shakoor is best known for her work in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, which she joined in 1995, and is still touring with it as its featured female vocalist. She was also a female vocalist of the hip hop group Arrested Development, of which she was a member from 1993 until 1995. Nominated for a Grammy Award for AD’s second album, Zingalamaduni, Shakoor has also toured or recorded with Madonna, Al Jarreau, Paula Abdul, Quincy Jones, Jasmine Guy, Howard Hewit, and others.
Born in Los Angeles, California in 1989, Kris Bowers is an acclaimed pianist and composer who was once described as a “prodigy.” He studied classical piano and jazz while attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and performed in numerous festivals while still a teenager. In 2011, Bowers won first place in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition. That same year, he showcased his versatility by appearing on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaborative album, Watch the Throne. This year, Bowers released his experimental jazz, R&B, and electronic-influenced debut album Heroes + Misfits on Concord.
Ira “Buddy” Williams is an American jazz drummer who has played with Grover Washington, Cedar Walton, David Sanborn, Kirk Whalum, and others.
Dennis Collins is the American vocalist who rendered Mac Donald’s Just the Two of Us, while New Yorker Gary Fritz is a much sought-after percussionist.