Jon Secada

Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk continues its look at the major stories which helped to shape 2021.

AFTER a five-year hiatus, Jamaica Jazz and Blues returned to the entertainment calendar, albeit virtually.

The three-night event, staged from March 4 to 6, 2021, was licensed to Florida-based Adrian Allen of Steady Image Media Group, in partnership with event producer Marcia McDonnough of Touchstone Productions.

Allen explained that having been part of the festival's staging for 12 years, he decided to take the step to execute the festival in order to fill the void created by its absence.

“Marcia and I have been involved with 'Jazz' over the years and we just decided to take the step and execute this year's event. The most difficult part is that we have to work to bring back a festival which has not been held for a number of years. But on the flip side, staging events is what we have been doing for the past 12 to 13 years, so it was right up our alley. We understand the brand and know what people want,” Allen told the Jamaica Observer.

“We are looking to cover the younger, middle and older market segments, taking into consideration the traditional but not leaving out the younger market which is more familiar with the digital space,” he continued.

In addition to established acts, the show featured several acts from Jamaica's alternative music scene.

“This is all about our young people on show,” event promoter Marcia 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 these new acts,” she continued.

That list comprised band Quest, flautist Ketura “SoulFlautist” Gray, Iron Kyte, Ken Ellis, ATF Band, Rayven Amani, Roots Percussionist, and Eight The Band.

The 2021 staging saw performances from two-time Grammy winner Jon Secada, Jah9, Richie Stephens, Lila Ike, Sevana, Mortimer, and Tessellated, as well as from musicians Peter Ashbourne and his wife Rosina Moder, who were also included on the bill.

Launched in 1996, Jamaica Jazz and Blues (formerly Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival) was created to encourage tourists to visit Jamaica during a traditionally slow tourism period. 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 name, which had several venue changes while attracting healthy crowds and a number of popular acts like Al Jarreau, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Air Supply, Maroon 5, Mariah Carey, Peter Cetera, The Pointer Sisters, Celine Dion, and Babyface.

It was last held in 2015 in Trelawny.

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment bonittob@ jamaicaobserver.com

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