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Hand it to the bands

Natanga Smith Hurdle

Hand  it to the bands

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IN BAJAN PARLANCE, the two bands do “bad, bad, bad” Saturday night at the CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank Sugar Isle Jazz Festival at The Plantation Theatre on Caribbean Night.
The Caribbean was represented by the Golden Apple Project, the local band, and the Caribbean All-Star Band, which included Trinidadian Len “Boogsie” Sharpe on steel pan. Earning an encore and standing ovation each, the two bands brought their own style, sound and concept to the stage.
First up was Golden Apple Project with David Carnegie on drums, Neil Newton on bass; Rhesa Garnes with vocals, Romaro Greaves on saxophone and Darien Bailey on keyboards. They had a tremendous set, switching from jazz to soca to reggae to ballads.
Garnes had a little hiccup on her first song Voice In My Head (Edwin Yearwood) as the music was drowning her out. In that song her voice at times lacked the emotional power the song required. She fared better on the jazzy selections and those of Cheryl Hackett and Donna Summer.
In the performance of Summer’s On The Radio, Greaves showed that he knows how to sax a song. His notes added more sugar to an already sweet arrangement. In keeping with the band’s habit of doing each song “Golden Apple Project style”, Garnes changed the Girl From Ipanema to a song about a boy from Bathsheba in a non-traditional jazz style.
Mention must be made of the sparkling solos, each of which was a mini performance in its own right. Do musicians know that their faces convey so much emotion and intensity?
Keyboardist Bailey got off his bench to hit certain notes, creating his own atmosphere. Toss in drummer Carnegie, whose sticks held up to the pressure, Newton’s plucking of each string and the very talented Greaves, who inspires you to draw a deep breath with every note he blows.
They deserved the standing ovation for the jazz rendition of the Carnival hit Bacchanalist.
Elan Trotman. Elan Trotman. Elan Trotman. Not only is his music easy on the ears, he is also easy on the eyes. He was included in the Caribbean All Star Band, put together four days before the event, along with “Boogsie”, Frankie McIntosh from St Vincent on keyboards, Maurice Gordon from Jamaica on guitar, local lads Wayne Poonka Willock  and James Lovell on percussion, Rico Anthony from Antigua on drums and Trinidadian Ron Reid on bass, who rounded out a fabulous octet.
The arrangements allowed each player to distinguish himself.
Trotman squeezed every note out of the tenor sax and titillated with the soprano sax. Dipping and shaking as he brought out each warble with the latter, he held a note so long it took your breath away. “Sweeeeeet” said two different audience members simultaneously.
Gordon produced memorable moments, finding a gimmick or two to add drama. The theme of the band was cooperation and when “Boogsie” came on stage to rapturous applause, he added a different element to the band. He had those steel pans rocking in their stands. Poonka and Lovell combined to do baaaadd on the drums, playing congas and timbales, respectively.
Trotman stole the spotlight in the last song Just The Two Of Us, sometimes layering over the beat, other times floating all over it and checking in just enough to bring things back to the stage, even when he went into the audience. Standing ovation.
The band played Could This Be Love and indeed it was. Kudos to both bands for cohesive ensemble performances. And what a display of music it was.