Last night I was privileged to see the jazz/reggae music group Jazz Jamaica in action at Snape Maltings. What a treat.
This British (cum Jamaican) crew of around 8 talented percussionists and winner of the BBC Jazz Awards ‘Best Band’ in 2002, sent the room into a frenzy/feet-tapping mess as their playful and up-tempo beats got the audience on their toes. At one point, around 40 people were dancing, although to varying degrees of aptitude. One particular enthuisastic, and potentially drunk, audience member beginning to get vocally enthralled too- though rightly so, as a female Jamaican star joined the act to sing some big notes, challengingly over the sound of the trumpets and drums. Wearing only a crop-top at the age of around 70, she was sufficiently impressive alone and was aptly introduced by the lead player and double bassist, Gary Crossby as “enough to make anyone want to go into music”.
The act described in their myspace page as “quintessential fusion of mento, ska, reggae and jazz, playing classic and modern jazz standards alongside Jamaican folksongs” were established in 1991. This unique mix, fuelled by the group’s immense talent (I particularly liked the guitarist and ‘typically Jamaican’ dreadlocked saxophonist) and improvisational nature of jazz, created skazz- jazz + ska = a party for your ears. They played a mix of well-know classics- improved remarkably by the Jazz Jamaica treatment, and pieces they had written themselves- all notable for their multicultural and powerful sounds. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of the Allstars’ Liquidator, which incidentally happens to be linked to another favourite of mine- Chelsea Football Club- coincidentally it is their theme tune.
Come you blues and keep playing Jazz Jamaica.