Despite the daunting responsibility of saluting the Skatalites in an effort to inspire a return of horns in Jamaican music, the Pembroke Hall Allstars Band was up to the task at Redbones Blues Café last Friday evening.
The fledgling nine-piece unit out of Pembroke Hall High School paid tribute to musicians who helped shape Jamaica's rich music heritage. In the opening segment, they did shining renditions of Skatalites classics such as Garden of Love, Guns of Navarone, Something Special and Swing Easy.
They were followed by vocalist Emmerson Henry, the first of two guest artistes.
Henry, whose set was built around Marley songs, got the approval of Minister of Education Ronnie Thwaites, who was in the audience with son Daniel and other relatives.
Thwaites unexpectedly walked on stage and hugged Henry while he performed Thank You Lord. Appropriately, Henry did the anthem, One Love, then his original Batting on a Bowlers Wicket.
Returning to the Marley songbook, Henry ended with a light-hearted jab at American sprinter Justin Gatlin to the music of Simmer Down.
The second stanza belonged to. saxophonist Damon Riley, who continued the Skatalites tribute with Freedom Sounds, Eastern Standard Time, Rockfort Rock and Schooling the Duke.
But it was his execution of Redemption Song, for which he earned a standing ovation, that stood out.
Proceeds from the show go to the Pembroke Hall High School's music programme. Their band won the inaugural Jamaica Best School Band Contest in 2014 and were runners-up this year.
-- Basil Walters