All that jazz
Organisers ready for virtual festival this weekendSunday, February 28, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
It's all systems go as the organisers of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival prepare for this weekend's virtual staging which will run from this Thursday, March 4 to Saturday, March 6. The event, which has been on hiatus since 2015 when it was staged at the Multi-purpose Stadium in Trelawny, will be streamed via the festival's social media platforms each night and feature an array of local, regional and international acts.
Festival producer Marcia McDonnough, who along with Florida-based Adrian Allen has been granted the licence to stage the showcase, told the Jamaica Observer that all is set to roll come this weekend beginning with what she and her team have dubbed 'Stars on the Rise'.
“We kick off on Thursday night with a full slate of emerging acts. This includes the winners of our band quest, the competition which we launched to find those young acts who needed the push that a platform like this can afford them. This year we saw one of the best set of performers to ever come forth since we began this initiative in the days of the physical festival. What we will present on Thursday is a wide array of acts each showcasing different musical genres ranging from jazz to rock and reggae, all very talented, all ready to give really strong performances. We will also showcase young prodigy Joe Davis. He is an artiste originally from Montego Bay and he is really great. He had the opportunity to perform at one of the Biden/ Harris inauguration events in the United States and the thing that comes to mind when you see and hear him is 'young Stevie Wonder',” said McDonnough.
The festival continues on Friday with cabaret artiste Bunny Rose who will be doing a tribute to past Jazz Festival performers. His set will include tracks from John Legend, Billy Ocean, Jeffrey Osbourne. There will also be a special segment curated by local organisation Music Unites which will showcase some more young Jamaican talent . The main acts for that night will be Lila Ike, Mortimer and Jah9, who McDonnough said will be delivering a special performance form Tanzania which is where she currently resides.
The festival wraps on Saturday with a little Caribbean flavour, thanks to the injection of Teddyson John from St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago's Freetown.
“The performances are set to be great from these two acts, and while they are known in the soca world I believe our audience will be surprised to hear what they bring to the festival. A special moment will be the tribute to the late Toots Hibbert. Peter Ashbourne has put together a special orchestra for this tribute. The major performances on this final night will be Grammy winner Jon Secada, Richie Stephens, Tessellated and Sevana.”
McDonnough noted that nestled among the performances will be a number of features, giveaways and surprises. We will be looking back at past stagings of the festival and notable performances. There will be our hotel features with artistes-turned-YouTubers Wayne Marshall and Tami Chin as well as the feature Round Jamaica with Richie Stephens.”
Launched in 1996, Jamaica Jazz and Blues (formerly Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues) was created to encourage visitors to come to Jamaica during a traditionally slow tourism period for the island. The first staging had a stellar bill: Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, Toots and the Maytals, Ernie Ranglin, and guitarists George Benson and Buddy Guy. Air Jamaica eventually faded from the Jazz and Blues Festival, which had several venue changes while attracting healthy crowds and a number of popular acts like Al Jarreau, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Lionel Ritchie, Kenny Rogers, Air Supply, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey, Peter Cetera, The Pointer Sisters, Celine Dion, and Babyface.
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