Joe steals the show
Emerging acts open Jazz and Blues festSaturday, March 06, 2021
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
THE perennial question about the future of Jamaican music was answered on Thursday on the opening night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, the virtual edition.
The night — which was branded 'Stars on the Rise' — showcased a full slate of emerging acts, continuing the tradition of the talent stage which was started during the physical staging of the event.
For just over three hours, an impressive string of young acts, chosen via the festival's Band Quest Competition, showcased their talents for a global audience via the event's social media pages and proved that the future of the music from the island is indeed in solid hands. With a range of music that included reggae, rock, jazz, and R&B was on show from the young acts.
It was prodigy Joe Davis, who was most impressive.
The youngster — who has just been accepted to the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts in the US — served warning that he is one to watch for the future. If one was taken by his diversity of the musical styles within his set and smooth vocals, then his talent on multiple musical instruments was simply jaw-dropping.
Davis simply hopped from keyboards, to bass, then drums and melodic, without missing a beat, and provided great entertainment. His song selections included his own Opposites Repel, and a jazzy rendition of Close to You by The Carpenters, before closing with the classic Stevie Wonder hit Superstitious.
The reggae rock band Iron Kyte was in full flight when they took to the jazz stage delivering a strong set with their brand of music. The track Rebel in Me was noteworthy. So too was Rayven Amani and the band Mission Driven. The lead singer had a presence on stage as she dropped a solid roots-reggae set which included Heathen, Black Without Apology, Start a Riot and My Darling, which are all original works before rounding out the performance with John Holt's classic Stick By Me.
8 the Band is another set of young singers and musicians to watch for the future. This boy band, formed at Jamaica College, have certainly grown and matured not just from boys into young men, but musically and artistically as well. Their impressive tone shows that they have put into the work and slick choreography only helped to accentuate a rounded playlist. The youngsters dabbled in 1960s pop with I Want You Back by the Jackson 5; 70s disco with September by Earth Wind and Fire, early reggae from the Wailers with Simmer Down; and rocksteady thanks to Alton Ellis' I'm Still in Love. But they also stamped their brand on the performance with two works from their own pen — Schoolboy Anthem and Universal Love.
Guitarist and vocalist Ken Ellis shared his talents with the jazz audience. His performance was highlighted by a smooth number featuring vocalist Hector Lewis better known as Roots Percussionist. Lewis would return to close the show. He was uncharacteristically without his array of percussion instruments, but instead showed his vocal talents including his track Love Saviour which was a dedication to his late mother, singer Barbara Jones.
Flautist Keturah Grey added to the diversity on stage. She brought her skills on the popular wind instrument to the fore and even threw in a few number on the saxophone for good measure. The tribute to Jamaican popular music which included her rendition, on flute, of Tarrus Riley and Shenseea's Lighter was impressive.
The organisers can take kudos for the prompt 7:00 pm star; crisp, clear visuals and sound, and a strong entertainment package.
The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival was set to continue last night with performances from Bunny Rose, Earth and the Fullness, Moon, Becky Glacier and Lila Ike. The festival concludes tonight with Sevana, Richie Stephens, Tessellated and international act Jon Secada, among other artistes
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