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14th Annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival

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Jinkies, the definition of “jazz festival” continues to mutate, in this case containing artists who either actually play some variety of jazz or who have heard the word “jazz” used in conversation. Nonetheless, it’s a fine lineup and will doubtless be a great time for one and all.

The Jazz Channel and St. Lucia Tourist Board present the 14th annual St. Lucia Jazz, April 29th-May 8th, 2005. Called (by themselves) the “best party in the Caribbean,” St. Lucia Jazz attracts over 10,000 visitors a year.

St. Lucia Jazz features multiple shows daily, including acoustic, new age and straight-ahead jazz, soul, fusion, R&B and reggae. Unique to St. Lucia Jazz are the festival¹s “fringe” events, which are held in a variety of locations and venues around the island, which provide an opportunity for travelers to experience the entire island and its culture along with musical performances. For example, concerts will take place in the venue of Balembouche, an old colonial plantation and cultural heritage site, and free performances at noon on Derek Walcott Square in the capital of Castries.

The lineup to date for St. Lucia Jazz 2005 includes R&B artists New Edition (with Bobby? is Whitney coming too?), The Isley Brothers featuring Ron Isley, Chanté Moore and Kenny Lattimore; great UK reggae band UB40, dancehall legend Beenie Man; veteran jazz saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders, son of John and saxman Ravi (“don’t call me Chi”) Coltrane, trumpeter Chris Botti, vocalist Kevin Mahogany, smooth jazz guitarist Earl Klugh and smooth saxer Dave Koz.

The venues (click for map):

    Pigeon Island – Home of St. Lucia Jazz, Pigeon Island is one of the Caribbean’s most historic landmarks and certainly one of the most beautiful spots in St. Lucia. Connected to the mainland by a causeway and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, Pigeon Island serves as the ideal venue for the 2 closing days of Jazz. While its rich history dates back to the pre-Columbian times, Pigeon Island is most famous for its role in the 1782 Battle of the Saints. Patrons to this venue, will want to explore its 44 acres of sloping grasslands, dry tropical forests, beaches and twin peaks, wandering around its landscape and taking hikes up to the Fort Rodney to see where the Atlantic Ocean joins the Caribbean Sea. Many entertainers have said that this is the most beautiful venue that they have ever performed at and many have returned.

    Gaiety on Rodney Bay – is a new venue to St. Lucia that brings the level of performing arts and entertainment to a new plateau. This new venue is ideally located between Pigeon Island and Gros Islet with the ability to seat almost 2500 persons. Gaiety on Rodney Bay boasts plush seating in a luxurious atmosphere offering jazz patrons the option of cabaret seating or tiered balcony seating. The advanced acoustics of this venue will guarantee superb performances, which bring out the best of the jazz artists performing at this venue.

    The Great House / Derek Walcott Theatre – a small intimate theatre is named after one of St. Lucia’s nobel Laureates, Mr Derek Walcott. Nestled among the palm trees, this theatre is picture perfect, offering the ideal setting for intimate jazz performances.

Take an interactive tour here. A little island history here:

    Since 1979 St Lucia has been a stable independent democracy within the British Commonwealth. But after a few days on the island you’ll discover influences and nuances hinting at its colourful past.

    St Lucia was first inhabited by the peaceful Arawak Indians, but they were conquered by their old enemies, the fierce Caribs. Columbus navigator was the first European to discover St Lucia in 1499. Then the British came and in 1667 the French arrived. St Lucia was alternately British and French for the next 150 years, before it was finally ceded to the British in 1814.

    The war has left fortresses and relics behind. For example, Pigeon Island National Park and Fort Rodney. From the former British officers’ mess, it is easy to imagine the cannons firing at French warships as they tried to slip past the fortified hilltop… You can also visit Morne Fortune, a site of a key battle, and Marigot Bay, once a vital wartime base and now a beautiful yacht haven. Diamond Falls and Mineral Baths, built by the French king, Louis XVI, to refresh and heal his troops stationed on St Lucia, are fascinating. As is historic Soufriere, the old French capital.

    We still have many British characteristics and, although English is the official language, French patois is widely spoken by the locals. In spirit, the island is influenced by many cultures. St Lucians drive on the left and have a passion for cricket. But the Caribbean influence surfaces in the drinks – rum and locally brewed beer, in the music – calypso, soca, reggae, in the richly flavoured Creole cuisine, in the carnivals, festivals and days of national pride, and in the open-air markets. (ckick over for more)

Are there any Caribbean islands left that DON’T have jazz festivals?

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    oh man, a great practical joke would be to switch tickets on the Dave Koz fans and send ‘em to the Pharoah Sanders show.

    ouch.

  • Eric Olsen

    culture AND ear shock, no?