Msc, Lecturer, CISPS
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New concepts to old favourites
Last Saturday night, at the Daaga Auditorium on the campus of UWI, St Augustine, patrons showed sincere appreciation for calypso music presented in a new format of motifs and textures through the collaborative sound of jazz.
The occasion was Foreday Mornin’ Entertainment’s production of Love Yuh Own II—The Concert Experience, featuring performances by Black Stalin (Dr Leroy Calliste), Vaughnette Bigford, and a guest appearance by Brother Valentino (Emrold Phillip), accompanied by guitarist Theron Shaw and his band, TS Project.
In its first showcase, at the Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook after this year’s carnival, the production won rave reviews for the “re-interpreted and re-harmonised” Caribbean jazz styling in which the music was presented, while losing very little of its original flavour.
Early evidence of the trend surfaced when Bigford appeared as first performer on Saturday. Using her rich, earthy vocals, and engaging stage presence, she offered her unique jazz stylings to the late Ras Shorty I’s Who God Bless, Richard “Nappy” Mayers’ Ole Time Days, Kenneth Marlon Charles’ (KMC) Soul on Fire, and Brother Valentino’s Birds That Fly High, never losing any of the original melodies in the arrangements, all done by Shaw who “delights in experimenting with local music, producing brilliantly organic hybrids,” according to an information leaflet offered to patrons.
Performing mainly in the jazz idiom, Bigford confessed to recently gaining an appreciation of local music, of which this country abounds, she stressed.
During her ten-year career, she has collaborated with many top-tier musicians, and appeared at several music festivals at home and abroad.
Brother Valentino, recently returned from Zimbabwe where he visited with a T&T cultural contingent, gave a remarkable rendition of the late Andre Tanker’s Smokey Joe, accompanied only by Shaw on guitar.
A record of the collaboration is being produced as it is the only selection Valentino has not composed that he performs. His other choice was the evergreen Life Is A Stage.
Featured performer, five-time national calypso monarch Black Stalin, treated the audience to interesting new concepts in style to endearing old favourites. His insightful social commentary Love Yuh Own, sung way back in 1973, from which the production got its title, was delivered with deep conviction that encouraged listeners to join in and sing the hook-line “if ah did know, ah woulda hold on to mih steelband and calypso.”
When he sang Bun Dem (1987), the audience, again, was loud in singing the chorus. His 1979 hit Play One was enhanced with skilful playing by Nigel Supersad on double second pans. His duet with Bigford of Freedom Song was pure magic. Caribbean Man, Better Days Are Coming, Cyar Tun Back Now, We Can Make It If We Try, Come With It, and Black Man Feeling To Party, all explored exciting individual styles of presentation.
The TS Project musicians were Theron Shaw (guitar), Nigel Supersad (double second), Rodney Alexander (bass) James Fenton (percussion),
Jill-Ann Walters (keys) and Khalen Alexander (drums). Chorus singers were sisters Malene and Shanna Joseph.
Strong in the belief that there is much to be explored in our own music, Foreday Mornin’ Entertainment attempts to provide a regular platform for these artistic expressions, which, they say, ultimately celebrate us all as a people.