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BARBADOS - jazz music

Janelle Headley

Janelle Headley opening the evening of Bajan jazz.

- Thursday 13, January-2005 by Wade Gibbons and Katrina Bend

Janelle Headley opening the evening of Bajan jazz.

She’s the one Barbadians should keep their eyes on.

Janelle Headley’s debut performance at the Barbados Jazz Festival on Tuesday night at Heritage Park, St Philip, was dynamic and well received by the 2 500-plus patrons.

She not only added her unique spin to some standards and gospel songs, but offered two original numbers that showcased the smoothness, strength and wide range of her voice.

Covering Beautiful Dreamer, a song by one of her favourite modern-day artistes Jill Scott, Janelle conveyed the positive message of the song, which was to do all good things yet undone.

It was enhanced by the gently rolling bongo drums of Wayne Poonka Willock, before Adrian Boo Husbands joined her in a call-and-response session on his trombone.

This “conversation” evoked laughter and thunderous applause as the two tried to outdo each other.

Although Headley dislikes being branded as someone who possesses a “jazz voice”, she truly fits the bill.

Her scatting was in keeping with the tradition of the genre.

Moreover, she poured all of her emotions into each piece, displaying a range of moods.

Her originals were So The Cycle Goes and I’m Yours – the latter written at an unhappy time in her life.

With it, she admonished the audience to “let go” when they had reached the end and invite God into their lives to make it better.

Headley elicited a standing ovation when she rendered the gospel number, Up Above My Head. So enjoyable was this that the audience called her back for more, and she again delivered.

Her offerings included the standards You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To, Afro Blu, and Night and Day; a tuk band fusion of Jill Scott’s He Loves Me, and God Bless The Child by her favourite jazz artiste, Billie Holiday.

The supporting band comprised David Carnegie (drums), Stefan Walcott (piano), André Daniel (keyboards), Shane Foster (guitar), Julian Griffith (base), Wayne Poonka Willock (percussion) and background vocalists were Alison Applewhite and Adrian Fletcher.

Tamara Marshall, by her own admission, drew from a body of foreign work, which again brought attention to the fact that Barbadian artistes need to record more in order to truly establish an identity.

She showcased one of the finest voices in this region. Her take on Billie Holiday’s 1945 classic Billboard charting, Lover Man, Where Can You Be, was a total treat. Voice control on this one was at its premium.

Marshall brought a different flavour to Arlen and Harburg’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow, made popular by Judy Garland in the musical The Wizard of Oz. Her version was much more rhythmic and Caribbean in texture, but traditionalists might have preferred her to stick to type.

She was again solid in renditions of Who Could Ask For Anything More and It Had To Be You. Her saucy, ‘calypso-esque’ Barbados Mama also went down quite well with the audience.

For all the vocal quality heard on the night, the defining moment – not unexpectedly – came from bass player Rickey Aimey.

Aimey’s superlative Lunch at Margarita’s brought deserving acclaim from patrons. For energy, texture and intricacy, it was an absolute tour de force. If only more local musicians would take this original route.

Adding to the night’s entertainment were two 18-year-old Cuban instrumentalists – Carlos Perez and Alejandro Rodriguez – who made cameo appearances.



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