Though the connection to “jazz” is tenuous – this is really about artists who get played on “smooth jazz” and “quiet storm” radio stations, which is something different from “jazz” jazz entirely – there are worse ways to spend a few summer days than at the very first Cayman Jazz Fest, which runs June 17-19 on Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean.
Roberta Flack, David Sanborn, Bob James, Freddie Jackson, BeBe Winans, (Cleveland’s own!) Eddie Levert, Cuban big band Charanga Habanera, and contemporary Caymanian artists will all gently rock the beautiful Pageant Beach location.
The schedule is as follows:
Thursday, June 17
Free Lunch Time Concert
7pm – 12am:
Friday, June 18
8pm – 1am:
Saturday, June 19
6pm – 11pm:
Notch & Club Dred
The band Intransit has been around since the year 2000. During that time the band has performed at every major venue on Grand Cayman and due to its busy schedule, has found it difficult to even get to the sister islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
Intransit has quite a following and is known as the first call band for any major occasion. This is due to the fact, that the members are in the top echelon of musicians on the music scene in the Caymans.
Leader, saxophonist, percussionist and backup vocalist of the band Gary Ebanks, is Caymanian and has been around the scene for quite some time. Though only starting to play music in his mid twenties, he had studies with the internationally know saxophonist, arranger and educator Bobby Watson and also bassist Curtis Lundy both of whom actually inspired him to start playing music while studying architecture at the University of Miami. Gary has worked in Florida and New York with local bands. He also led his own groups in New York. This is a period that he considers his growth period, while looking all the time to return to his islands to help develop the scene and expand the musical concepts of the musicians on the islands. He has been at the forefront of the development of jazz in the Caymans since the early seventies. Gary is also a prolific composer. He has several tunes which have had airplay and can also be heard on many local recordings.
Bassist and lead vocalist of the band Roger (Bugs) Wilson is Jamaican, but has spent the last fifteen years in the Cayman Islands after arriving there with a touring band from Jamaica. He is a well known and respected bassist in Jamaica having worked with Shabba Ranks, the Mighty Diamonds, Lovingdeer (Wild Gilbert album) and Kimani Marley to name a few. This makes him a first call for groups coming to the islands who are in need of a bassist. Bugs toured worldwide with his fellow Jamaican artist before putting down roots in the Caymans. When he teamed up with Gary in the early ninetys, it was his first excursion into the idioms of the jazz world and has spent most of his time since, working with Gary in many different musical configurations, from duos, to nine piece groups.
Bugs is also a composer with several recordings to his credit and has played on almost every major record coming out of the Cayman Islands.
Robert (Bobby) Ebanks, also Caymanian and drummer for the band, has been playing forever. He started on pots and pans when he was a child and has never stopped. He too is first call in the islands and has played with almost every major band in the Caymans over the years. His playing can be found on most of the major albums recorded in the islands.
He has come to the jazz scene late, only starting to work in the idiom, over the past three years, since the formation of Intransit. Since then he has become an avid fan and works extensively to expand his vocabulary and repertory. The keyboard chair of the band varies according to who is available, and Gary says “we work with whom we can find, the pool of musicians here is very small and the best are always busy. We are lucky to have a consistent trio. The band and its writing is starting to come together though, and so we are looking to record, get a booking agent, and do some travelling.”
Intransit a name given by one of its admirers, has a very eclectic choice of music ranging from its own roots music of reggae and calypso, to top forty and jazz, with jazz being the overall binding tool. Everything is presented with jazzy flavors.
Love Culture Band was formed in 1998. The band consists of five extremely talented young male musicians. Love Culture performs all original pieces with a blend of genres. Sometime Love Culture would make you feel Reggae, then Jazz then Hip Hop, but always conscience. Positivity with a purpose is the theme of their music and Love Culture has mastered the art of allowing you to feel this positive vibe.
Love Culture consists of:
Daniel “Danny Boy” Augustine – Drummer
Samuel “Bingy” Rose – Bass/ Background vocals
Gordon “Gideon” Solomon – Guitarist/ Lead vocals
Joel “Junior” Rose – Saxophonist/ Background vocals
Stuart “Daddy Stu” Wilson – Guitarist/ Lead vocals
[I think everyone should have a nickname]
The new millennium gives rise to the long awaited debut album from vocal sensation, Notch. One of the hottest solo artistes to emerge on the international scene, this Caymanite is destined to be a shining start of reggae music. With an unmistakably smooth and commanding voice, Notch has evolved the Jamaican roots of the reggae sound into a majestic tree providing refuge and bearing fruit with a complete range of melodic, conscious reggae. His first CD, “Reggae Man” is produced in Jamaica by Paul Kastick and Benjy Myaz of Groove Society fame and features a musical line-up of the Who’s Who in the reggae garden: Dean Fraser and Rass Brass, Steely & Cleevie, Christopher Birch and Robbie Lynn amongst others. “Reggae Man” contains a full cross section of all existing reggae grooves – from ska to Dancehall – and Notch masters them all.
Hearing this music, it is soon obvious something have been missing in the reggae offering all these years.
Notch first hit the reggae scene at the age of 11 while fronting up “The Juveniles” whose debut single “Mystical Lady” maintained the #2 spot on the JBC top 10 for 6 weeks. Consistently writing music since that tender age, he has amassed a catalogue of unpublished treasures. The band’s debut album “Sing in Harmony” and its follow up single “Baby Lover” created such demand that 13 year old Notch found himself on tour in the Southwestern United States gaining a wealth of performing and touring experience.
Since then Notch shines brightly while sharing stage with, or opening for, internationally acclaimed reggae artists such as Shaggy, Maxi Priest, Beres Hammond, Third World or UB40. In 1998 Notch headlined at Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica taking the stage at 4 am! He lived up to the honour and set the crowd on fire with his encore performance, proving then and there, he is the man to watch. His performance was aptly billed and could only be followed by the likes of Gregory Isaacs, the late Dennis Brown and the Dr. Beenie Man welcomed in the sun that morning.
Currently Notch performs live in Cayman, as lead vocalist for Local Motion a reggae “big band”.
Notch. You’ll know the voice. Remember the name.
AfterDark offers a mixture of adult contemporary styles including R&B, soul, jazz and reggae fused with ethnic and world rhythms.
Seasoned musicians, group members Karen Edie, Joel Walton and Devon Edie blend their varied musical interests and experiences to generate soul-stirring performances. The vocal styling of Karen is a throwback to soul divas of yesteryear combined with influences from some of today’s favourite contemporary artists. According to Cayman Activity Guide, Karen’s vocal deliveries “create a unique and powerful performance which always leaves the audience begging for more. If you could imagine a female Bob Marley with a greater vocal range and far more diverse and complex repertoire ire, you would have a tiny glimpse into the profound vocal style of this incredibly gifted artist.”
Best known for his work with CMX International, keyboard player Joel also partnered with Karen as part of the contemporary jazz ensemble MoDanJaz, which regularly performed for special events island-wide, and released a collection of Christmas favourites titled “It’s Christmas” in 1999. Devon’s exceptional saxophone playing abilities has popularised him as one the best horn players in the country having also performed throughout the islands for major events.
AfterDark rocketed to success on the local music scene only a year and a half ago when they debuted at The Office Lounge. The group has since enjoyed sensational runs at Mezza, the Hard Rock Café and Breezes by the Bay restaurants. On a larger scale, the trio has opened for visiting international recording artists Keith Sweat, Faith Evans and Floetry, among others.
Solidified by an appreciation for the music they provide, the opportunity to be a part of the intimacy AfterDark creates is an experience not to be missed.
BET Jazz, which is also sponsoring the show, has this article on the islands:
- So, you want a fun Caribbean vacation with all the geographical splendor but without the hassle of stampeding tourists. Well, the Cayman Islands might be your answer. Just 480 miles south of Miami, the Cayman Islands consist of three isles: Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, in a tropical paradise totaling 100 square miles of white sandy beaches, crystal blue waters and warm sunshine. And if you want a nice music festival to take your visit to the next level, you should definitely schedule your vacation between June 17 and June 20 for the 1st Annual Cayman Island Jazz Festival.
….The Cayman Island Jazz Festival is but one of the fascinating attractions of Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands. There are plenty outdoor activities such as golf, snorkeling, horseback riding and parasailing. Or you might simply decide to bath in the warm, golden sunrays. If you’re a nature buff, the Butterfly Farm is a must-see. This otherworldly tropical garden is a palette of the colorful, velvety creatures from around the world. There, you can witness, first-hand, the life cycle of these beautiful insects, as they emerge from their eggs and begin their cycle from caterpillar to chrysalis to elegant fliers.
From the tiny wildlife to gorgeous plant life, Grand Cayman’s Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park is another spectacular 65 acres, filled with exotic flowers. For a great sense of the islands’ history, you owe it to yourself to visit the National Museum, which holds more than 4,000 artifacts pertaining to the island’s rich heritage. Other noteworthy attractions on Grand Cayman include, the Old Savannah Schoolhouse, the Cayman Turtle Farm and the Pedro St. James Historic Site.
Grand Cayman’s George Town also boasts a vibrant nightlife and wonderful shopping districts. The Caymans are also duty-free destinations, which translates into big savings on liquor, crafts, souvenirs, clothing, and jewelry. When night falls, the city lights up with an array of dance clubs and bars, ranging from hip-hop and disco to reggae and calypso. Much like the crystalline blue seas surrounding Grand Cayman, the island is one of the most immaculate in the Caribbean.
The Caymans have close to 100 restaurants, from roadside grills and fast-food joints to five-star establishments. Caymanian cuisine is heavily influenced by Jamaica, so expect lots of delicious jerk-chicken, curry, plantains, breadfruits and various seafood dishes.
Traveling among the three islands is relatively easy. Just simply book inter-Island Travel through Island Air. Both Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are filled with luxurious beach resorts, fishing lodges and shopping areas. So, if you’re looking for that fun, low-hassle Caribbean vacation, the Cayman Islands is the place to go.
U.S. residents do not need a passport to enter the Cayman Islands
English is the official language
Average summer temperature is 85 degrees
June is during the Cayman Islands’ rainy season (mid-May thru Oct.)
Like I said, there are worse ways to spend a few days in the summer.