'Jazz' ends on high note

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 03, 2014    

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THE 18th Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival ended on a wet note Sunday morning, as the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium was drenched by rain.

Minutes before closing act Beres Hammond took the stage, patrons were sent scampering for cover as the squalls bucketed down. The weather, however, did not dampen spirits of thousands inside the venue.

Once the rains ceased and the band struck up the first notes for Hammond, the infield became filled with patrons.

At 2:00 am, Hammond burst onto the stage and the stadium erupted. For the next hour and 20 minutes it was hit after hit and the cold, wet, weary patrons forgot the soggy conditions and danced on the greens.

Hammond's set did not feature his trademark rapid-fire style, but nevertheless fans enjoyed the delivery, and his performance truly capped a night of great sets.

Perhaps one of the surprises was veteran American R&B trio, The O'Jays.

With slick choreography, and amazing harmonies Walter Williams, Eric Grant and Eddie Levert had the venue rocking to their music from the 1960s and 1970s.

Clad in white, they dropped Give The People What They Want, Smile On Your Face, Stairway To Heaven, I Love Music, Love Train and the anthem Money, on the 'Jazz' set who loved every moment.

Another high point was Aaron Neville, who performed Everybody Plays The Fool, Don't Know Much, Don't Go, Change Gonna Come, Ain't No Sunshine and Tell It Like It Is. He earned the first true standing ovation of the festival.

Chaka Khan was another who wasted no time getting to the hits. From her opening track, I Feel For You, it was hits non-stop to the final heady notes of I'm Every Woman. In between she gave Everlasting Love, Sweet Thing, Tell Me Something Good and Through the Fire. She had patrons asking for more with many noting that her stint was too short.

Many missed the performance by the long-haired Crystal Gayle who performed in the early hours of the night. But those who were already inside got a taste of her country and pop catalogue.

Gayle was seamless as she did Everybody Needs Someone to Love, I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love, Long and Lasting Love and Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue.

Local trio One Third, one of the night's opening acts along with Della Manley, returned to offer much-needed support for former Toto front-man Bobby Kimball. During their run on the local television talent show Digicel Rising Stars, One Third performed the Toto hit Africa and it was fitting to see them back Kimball who also performed the Toto hits Rosanna and Georgy Porgy.

After three nights, organisers have already hinted at changes for future festivals to attract larger crowds.





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