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It was a proud moment for Barbados on Saturday when saxophonist Arturo Tappin received a top Jamaica award. Tappin was the only non-Jamaican in the group of six music professionals to receive the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence during the annual Independence Gala, which was held on the lawns of Jamaica House, Kingston. The gala was being staged under the theme: The Legend, The Icon, Marley, and the Barbadian was part of the three-hour long presentation to showcase Marley's musical genius. Above Prime Minister P.J. Patterson (left) presenting the award to Arturo.
Saturday 15, January-2005 by Ricky Jordan
And that’s exactly what happened Thursday night as featured artist, Arturo Tappin, ended the Barbados Jazz Festival’s dinner set with a spouge number and a calypso medley at the Colony Club.
Diners, clad in black suits and evening dresses, flocked close to the stage like bees to honey as Tappin sweetened the dinner menu with his sugary saxophone.
Underlined by the spicy drumming of Buddy Williams – an incredible American musician who plays kaiso and spouge as if it’s second nature – ’Turo rocked the place with Sach Moore’s I Am A Proud Barbadian and a medley of Mighty Sparrow’s hits.
The former rendition would certainly have been a delight for the night’s sound engineer Norman Barrow, who played bass when I Am A Proud Barbadian was originally done by the Sandpebbles some 30 years ago.
While the Bajans were getting in the party mood, however, it must have been the cue for the festival’s headliner Alicia Keys to exit.
Earlier, she too had risen from her dinner table to dance – to a jazz number – but otherwise sat chatting with friends and relatives for most of the show.
By the time she and her party had gone, ’Turo was launching into a Sparrow medley that included May May, Drunk and Disorderly, and Jean and Dinah.
Earlier in the night, ’Turo showed a side other than the party mood. He actually seemed sentimental as he spoke about longstanding friends and the strong West Indian connection to Brooklyn, New York, which is now his home.
But his strongest sentiments were reserved for family, as he dedicated a song to his late father and jazz aficonado, Art Tappin, who in his view “did Frank Sinatra better than Sinatra”.
The song was When Somebody Loves You, and ’Turo rendered it beautifully.
The admiration for him was almost tangible; coming as it did from the audience and his bandmembers Aziza (piano), Stanley Banks (electric bass) and Williams.
Williams had high praise for him, stating that Roberta Flack knew talent and that was why she had chosen Arturo.
“The diva knows how to surround herself with the best and those who will be the best...we in the music world need this brother,” Williams said of the “home boy”.
Arturo in turn said he was introduced to Flack by his cousin, Deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley, at the Waterfront Café.
“I dropped Feel Like Making Love and she (Flack) asked what I was doing in Barbados. The rest is history,” he related.
Having said that, he introduced Donny Hathaway’s The Closer I Get To You, in which he and Aziza conversed intimately and deeply; she layering the chat with a lush piano, and he replying on the tenor sax.
But Tappin kicked some dust too, stirring up a heap of memories with his interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke.
This featured an awesome display by the ultra-funky Banks, whose bass seemed to take on a life of its own while Banks danced with a tambourine on his left foot. It was stirring stuff!
Other renditions were Feel like Making Love, Turo’s introductory song with which he emerged from the audience, Kitchener’s Old Lady Walk A Mile and A Half, and Aziza’s La Costa which she penned back in the 1970s for Natalie Cole.
With such great music, who cared about dinner?
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