We went to a jazz concert in Trafalgar Park recently. It was a quiet performance, as that goes, because you couldn’t hear the music until you were at the venue. The cars were parked orderly outside and the audience inside were almost as quiet as those at a speak easy.
It was mostly a jazz loving crowd, of course, but the mix was tolerable. We saw Glynn Manley, Beth Hyde, Maxine Henry-Wilson, Claude Nemhard, Pat Francis, Tania Nethersole, Enith Williams, Ishta Govia, Sheila Graham and Rosie Chung.
Pianist Stephen Scott did not disappoint. He explored great jazz standards and improvised freely in a relaxed way. He was often clever and sometimes mischievous in the way he introduced music techniques. His renditions always ended logically, resolving emotional avenues he trespassed. Bass player Curtis Lundy was steadfast in his rhythm and role, fitting the piano’s quiet spaces perfectly.
The duet’s Summertime grooved casually into an inventive key change, giving the iconic tune a freshness we savored. Soon after, they really started to swing. Ben Goldson’s Killer Joe made popular by Quincy Jones from the early 1970s got a little verve and managed to make the duet sound full and robust. Concert organizer Herbie Miller,called their rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s Single Petal of a Rose blissful.
The audience was attentive and enervated. Scott’s chord runs entertained and lit bright moods. Once he slid into a call and response with the bass. Lundy, meanwhile, was not bashful as he pulled some strings that showed his enormous talents as a musician.
Scott told us the night was a sample of what would come at a later, longer concert. He was happy to be in Jamaica and it infected the mood of his music. “I usually don’t speak when I am a sideman on someone else’s gig,” Scott explained. “But I am moved to break that protocol to say how pleased I am to be playing for a group of people all of whom look like me.”
It was heartfelt and the audience loved him for it. Miller had invited Lundy for this private performance as a way of piggy backing on an Ocho Rios Jazz Festival appearance. Miller heads a new group called JASS (Jazz Appreciation and Study Society), so many of its members were in the audience. And boy did they appreciate that wonderful concert!
Miller’s music lineage goes back a long way. He owned the Blue Monk Jazz Gallery (Kings Plaza) in the early 1980s. Performing there two sets a night Thursday to Saturday and three on Sunday were jazz greats such as Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, Kenny Burrell, Trinidad bassist David “Happy” Williams and the inimitable Monty Alexander. Miller promises that JASS will be bringing us more lovely evenings like this.