Personal commentary on a few jazz projects and events in Trinidad and Tobago by jazz musician and activist Chantal Esdelle. Sound Connection 2010, Playing solo at Ibiza and seeing Ruth, Keisha Codrington and the Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan and Jazz Festival
October was both an artistically productive and personally enriching month for me. Being a believer, I’m thankful to God for this. I was able to get the Sound Connection 2010 recording project to happen and through it record my jazz group Moyenne’s second album, record Len “Boogsie” Sharpe, and record John Arnold and the Kariwak Players. On the performance side of things Moyenne had a good run at the Trinidad and Tobago Steelpan and Jazz Festival, and I got to do some solo work at a cabaret-style gig. I also celebrated five years of marriage (eight years in the relationship), and the birthdays of several family members.
Sound, solid, supportive, long standing relationships made all of this possible.
Sound Connection 2010
The Sound Connection Project was the biggest example of the significance of these relationships. A seven-year relationship with Alexis Vazquez’ team in Cuba proved to be a platform on which an easy sibling-like relationship materialized between me and the audio engineers from MUSICUBA-EGREM. Fito, Luis and Reinier did not just come and work for me, they worked with me on the project. Victor and his team from Audio Works went all out to make sure we had the equipment we needed. Marsha Pearce’s input was evidence that old friends are like gold, especially when they’re intelligent, sharp, and resourceful. Judith did not give up and Briana lent her support willingly. All the while Robert drove around, stocked the green room, got coffee and, just generally made our residence at CLR James Auditorium a comfortable one.
Moyenne was magnificent. The process of preparing for our recording during Sound Connection made me notice, yet again, that these musicians value their relationship with me. Kevin, Junior, Dougie, and Darren, showed up, in every sense of the word, for rehearsals, for the recordings, with their compositions….playing with them is always a joy and a blessing.
Playing solo at Ibiza and seeing Ruth
Early in the month Moyenne got an offer to share a cabaret gig with Ruth Osman and her group (not sure if the billing is still Ruth Osman and Jacoustic). It seemed like too much for too little. So Moyenne decided to let Ruth do the gig I would just do a few solo pieces on the night. It was wonderful seeing Ruth’s crew, Anton, Marva, and James, play because I know them all and I know that their deciding to play and finding a place to do it was no easy feat, plus they did it well. The gig was cool for me too. I got to play jazz and calypso standards that the audience enjoyed and James gave me some excellent support on the congas. A few people were like, wow, you can really play. That felt odd, you mean they didn’t notice I could play before that? Perhaps more solo playing is needed.
Keisha Codrington and The Trinidad and TobagoSteelpan and Jazz Festival
Ricky joined Moyenne for this gig since Darren was in Toronto. It was sweet. You know what I loved….that I played my first instrument, the piano, not a weighted Yamaha or Roland keyboard, but a grand piano. It makes such a difference to the music. Cesar Lopez and the Habana Ensemble followed. They were phenomenal. Wow, would be a sufficient critique of their work. Then Cesar introduced a young woman he first met when she was eight, he found her a significant musician then, and so was pleased to have her perform with them now, at age sixteen. He introduced Keisha. I thought, we’ve all been hearing her make magic on the steelpans since she was eight and she continues to get better and better. She was patient and thoughtful in her performance, leaving room and taking room demonstrating her skill and as Natasha put it, her ear. As usual I wish her and the Codrington Pan Family nothing but the best.
No projects, at least not big ones. I’ll finally collect my bound thesis, its been ready since early this year. Perhaps I’ll have a quiet month reading it and figuring out how to turn it into a book……….
Names that weren’t spelt out fully in the article
Fito (Adolfo Martinez Rodriguez), Luis Gonzalez Duran, Reinier Lopez Gonzalez, Victor Donawa, Marsha Pearce, Robert Young, Judith Marchan, Brianna McCarthy, Kevin Sobers (steelpans in Moyenne), Junior Noel (percussion in Moyenne), Douglas Redon (bass in Moyenne), Darren Sheppard (drums, in Moyene) Ruth Osman, Anton Ricardo, Marva Newton, James Fenton, Ricardo Ruiz (drums in Moyenne), Natasha Joseph (leading steelpan player and arranger)