On a quest to jazz it up

On a quest to jazz it up

Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 22, 2021

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THE Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival has always had a place for the new and emerging artiste, allowing them a space to showcase their talent. Over the years, a number of young acts have made their way across this stage, using it as a bridge to bigger and better things.

This year is no different. On the festival's opening night, March 4, a total of seven young, Jamaican acts will take to the stage during the event, which has adopted a virtual format during to the current global health crisis.

The seven were chosen following an initiative known as Band Quest.

Once it was announced that the festival would return to the local calendar, albeit virtually, one of the first features to be announced was Band Quest. The organisers sent out an open call for local bands to submit expressions of interest.

According to reports from the organisers, the call yielded responses from 20 bands and the initial plan was to chose just six of these bands. However, based on the high quality of the entries the producers could not eliminate one of the bands and as a result seven bands will perform on the show from Band Quest.

The lucky performers are flautist Ketura “SoulFlautist” Gray, Iron Kyte, Ken Ellis, ATF Band, Rayven Amani, Roots Percussionist, and Eight The Band.

Speaking at the festival's media launch on Tuesday, Jhada Dwyer of the boy band Eight The Band noted how much of an honour it will be to play at the festival.

“We play every genre and so it is a great honour for us and we are super excited to show the world what it is that we have to offer. We are ready and we hope you will enjoy our performance,” he said.

The sentiment was the same from the ATF Band.

“We are just truly honoured to be part of this. We have watched this festival over the years and have dreamed of the day when we could do this and now we get out chance, We are so looking forward to sharing our music with the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival audience,” noted band member Herbie Harris.

Rayven Amani noted that she has been a loyal patron of the event from its earliest beginnings and so now that the tables have turned, she too is looking forward to sharing what she described as a “very powerful set”, completed with music that patrons know and love as well as the band's original music.

Band Quest is not the only avenue for young talent to get on the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival stage. Event promoter Marcia McDonnough noted that renowned Jamaican musicians Peter Ashbourne and his wife, Rosina Moder, through their Music Unites programme will be curating a set featuring four acts from Jamaica's alternative music scene for the festival.

“This is all about our young people on show,” McDonnough shared at the media launch. “The truth is our audience has evolved. Our regular 'jazz' patrons will be introduced to some new music while we will be introducing the festival to a new audience. Music is ageless and therefore we are sure that the regulars will enjoy this new acts,” she continued.

The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival was last staged at the Trelawny Multi-purpose stadium in 2015. This year's staging will see performances from two-time Grammy winner Jon Secada, Jah9, Richie Stephens, Lila Ike, Sevana, Mortimer, and Tesselated. The organisers have promised to announced additional acts in the coming weeks.

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