Thursday, 2/16 we presented a lunch time concert at Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts with these fine musicians including drummer Desi Jones, bassist Dale Haslan (both of whom toured with Jimmy Cliff), guitarist Maurice Gordon and Edna Manley school piano faculty Orville Hammond (playing flute). We presented repertoire from my MIX UP MIX UP project (reggae jazz) and one of Maurice's original cha cha tunes. (Unfortunately Maroghini can't make it(!) but it was great to jam with him today in rehearsal.)
Unfortunately I don't know of any video footage or even pictures of our show at Edna Manley School on Thursday, at the Vera Moody concert hall, with a beautiful Steinway GRAND on stage. But it was great - we did about an hour set including mostly my tunes and arrangements, Reggae Jazz syle (MIX UP MIX UP repertoire), Manteca and one of Maurice Gordon's cha cha tunes. Everyone down here gets a kick out of the tunes I named "Half Chop" and "Full Chop". "Chop" has grave meaning: if you do some thing bad, you'll get a half chop. If you do some thing really bad you might get a full chop....with a machete!
Yesterday, seems like a year ago, I got in my car and headed to the Edna Manley school for a 10am Master class on Afro-Cuban playing and as I was taking a right hand turn, mind you the roads are opposite as they are in the US, BOOOOOOM! I got slammed into by two you'ts on a small motorcycle who were completely dangerously trying to pass me. WTF. No one was hurt (badly), I was fine, but the c'yar all mash up serious. Many foreigners would not dare drive inna JA because it's a bit crazy. Anyway...perhaps the universe says I had to pay to play.
'dem mash up me c'yar!
Shook off the adrenaline rush from that and walked on stage to do the master class. It was quite awesome. We had the piano players seated behind me on stage so they could really see and play, while everyone else was in the chairs on the floor. I'd say MOST of the popular music that is studied and played is, you guessed it, reggae and its many sub styles, so getting into Latin music was a new direction for many of the students. I had a great back up band, including Maroghini and a couple of students and faculty who had experience with SON. We got right into playing montuno's in 2-3 clave direction and everyone ate it up. Perhaps the high point was when I asked everyone to stand up and learn the basic salsa dance step. Just about all the piano students ran back behind the curtain not wanting to dance, but the crowd started yelling at them to come forward and go for it. Some did and we were joined by a whole lot of students on stage to dance. It just so happened that in the audience was Keith Anthony head of "Salsa Jamaica" (for some 20+ years) and he came up and lead the dance with style and enthusiasm. THEN, he made an offer to hire a Latin dance band for his events...now, this is a WIKKED opportunity! I pushed that as hard as I could, looking at the piano players and saying, "Are you kidding! Put that together and get the gigs! There's no better way to learn!" We ended with me fielding questions of which I received many that revealed the great insight and depth from the students and a couple of faculty.....and one in particular was about the seemingly male orientation in Latin music, which is true, generally it's dominated by men but I explained that this is changing and I looked at all the young women in the audience and said, "Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't play this music....or any kinds of music!"....thunderous applause!
As is the case in Jamaica, you go from the sublime to the subdude (or worse!) in a second: I get in me mash up car (that still drove) and had to deal wit dat - police station, car rental. Turns out the you'ts on the motorcycle had no insurance which is often the case with motorcyclists in Kingston, so, basically, I got screwed. Ouch!
Some of the participants in my Afro Cuban master class
The piano players were set up on stage behind me so they could directly observe and play
These 10 BLOG posts are from my amazing trip to Jamaica where I was conducting research for the Newbury Comics Faculty Fellowship grant I received (from Berklee College of Music, where I am associate professor of piano and teach a class on Bob Marley) to produce a reggae education video.