Divas & maestros
shine at Jazz in the Gardens
THE BIMONTHLY Jazz in the Gardens Concert held at The Pegasus hotel has become a mainstay in the musical diet of a number of Jamaicans, and the organisers have taken note.
The recent staging not only had the audience rocking and singing to the melodious voices of musical icons, but also some rising artistes. All were backed by a band of highly acclaimed musicians. But there were some unexpected features – Grub Cooper singing jazz, as well as the expansion of the seating areas.
“Some say skybox, I say VIP Pavilion. You have to create a little more comfort for the guests,” said Ken Nelson of the organising team, in explaining the new elevated VIP Lounge, constructed behind the general seating area of the gardens. The well-decorated section boasted an allinclusive experience, and offered an overhead view of the medium-height stage.
Regardless of where they were seated, all the guests at the New Kingston-based event were served equal doses of performances from the likes of Myrna Hague, Grub Cooper, Karen Smith, Alex Welcome, Christina Smith, and Courtni Jackson.
Jackson was the first to serve up a treat with Ain’t Nobody Loves Me Better – her doting mother, Karen Smith, later bringing her water and wiping perspiration. After a powerful rendition of Whitney Houston’s If I Don’t Have
You, the up-and-coming vocalists passed the baton to another up-and-coming vocalist.
Christina Smith is not a household name in Jamaica. In fact, this young Canadian, only 19, was performing on a Jamaican stage for the first time; well, not if you count the venues for the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission competitions, where she performed as a young student at St Andrew Preparatory School, she proudly shared with The Gleaner.
She began her set with servings from the old school. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You was her appetiser. And with that, she continued her journey back in time, before returning to the very contemporary Let’s Get Loud. Alex Welcome’s performance picked up where Christina left off. He was clinical with his opening, It’s A Man’s World, and was just as efficient with Natalie Cole’s Orange Coloured Sky. He closed his very entertaining act with his all-time favourite jazz song, Summer Time.
Karen Smith closed the first half of the show. She was at her usual best, doing a medley of full-length songs.
Grub Cooper was “like you have never seen him before”, according to MC Michael Cuff. Performing jazz for the first time, the Fab 5 band member wooed his audience with songs such as The Way You Look Tonight, Get Up, Stand Up and Lovely Day.
Myrna Hague brought the curtain down on ‘Jazz in the Gardens: A Feast for the Senses, Maestros and Divas’.
She had the audience gorging on such delights as Memories, Falling in Love and a medley of other songs, before calling on Marjorie Whylie to accompany her on keyboard with Love is here to Stay.
Backing band Desi Jones and Friends also added the icing on top, touched with a dazzling display of their skills on their respective instruments.
The final show for 2016 is scheduled for December 26.
Marjorie Whylie and Michael Cuff.
Courtni Jackson (left) and mother Karen Smith.