Small audience, tight sets at Jazz

Small audience, tight sets at Jazz

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 30, 2015

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OPENING night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival was dubbed Tribute to John Holt, but patrons were hard-pressed to hear the music of the legendary artiste who died in October last year. With an all-Jamaican line-up, except for Trini Oscar B, the rendition of Holt's popular tracks were few and far between at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium on Thursday.

That aside, the performers, for the most part, delivered tight sets with George Nooks, Josey Wales and Judy Mowatt managing to get the small audience on their feet to dance to their popular songs, despite the night's chilly winds.

The Holt Tribute got off to a flying start thanks to veteran Errol Dunkley.

Dressed in full white, he dropped Don't Know Why, You're Gonna Need Me, I Wanna Know, Black Cinderella, before launching into his monster hit for 1979 OK Fred, which was written by Holt.

His performance segued into that of Cornell Campbell, whose laid-back style of performance was in stark contrast to that of Dunkley, and caused the vibe inside the stadium to dip. Despite this, he delivered some of his memorable tracks. He performed Bouncing and Queen of the Minstrels -- his Studio One hit -- among others in his set.

The vibe would return once George Nooks stepped onto the stage. He brought back life to the venue with Left With a Broken Heart, Always on My Mind, So Much Love to Give, Zion Gates and Tribal War.

The night's sole female act Judy Mowatt again proved why she has endured decades in the music industry, whether gospel or secular.

Her voice was crisp and clear from the moment she took to the stage till the end of her 40-minute set. In between, the audience was treated to rendition of Thank You Lord, Want to be More, Unconditional Love, We'll Sing our own Song, her powerful empowerment anthem Black Woman and Many Are Called.

In tribute to her 'Brother' John Holt, she sang Tide is High. She was well received.

The Holt factor was raised when the late singer's son, Brian, took to the stage and performed his father's Wear You to the Ball. He was later presented with a plaque by the festival's organisers expressing appreciation for the life and work of John Holt.

The vocal trio, The Tamlins gave another signature performance with their tight harmonies carrying on the night air. Among the Holt tracks they performed was Happy Go Lucky Girl, before dropping their show-stopper Baltimore.

But the sole encore of the night was left for legendary toaster Josey Wales. The Colonel was in his usual form and entertained his audience to the max. Undercover Lover, Bobo Dreadlocks, Leggo Me Hand Gateman had the audience going, and at the end of his set they would not let him go.

Last-minute addition to the line-up Johnny Clarke delivered his second great set on local soil in as many weeks. The hitmaker from the 1970s just kept reeling out the tracks -- Rock With Me, Move Up, None Shall Escape the Judgement. His set was a bit too long and with patrons being battled weary on night one, they began filing out.

This left a sprinkling of patrons to enjoy the soca set by Oscar B. The former frontman for Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires did not bear this in mind, as he delivered with his Vybez Band.

The festival culminates tonight with The Pointer Sisters, Charlie Wilson, Peter Cetera and sibling band Morgan Heritage.


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