On Saturday afternoon, the following day, Pigeon Island came alive with a potpourri of French, Latin, Afro-Cuban and hip hop-flavored jazz on day three of the festival. It was the closest thing to a musical trip around the world in four hours.
Bluemangò, a group of musicians who come from St Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica, had appeared at St Lucia Jazz several times before but, this year, they took it up a few notches. Their set featured an eclectic mix of folk, French and kweyol jazz – both instrumental and vocal. Appearing as special guest performers with were trumpeter Jean Caze of Haiti, and Guadeloupe-born jazz singer Malika Tirolien.
Kenny Garrett was a throwback with his authentic jazz sound that must have pleased the purists on Saturday afternoon. It wasn’t long, though, before he broke into some hip hop-flavoured jazz that got the crowd moving and chanting. Garrett later stunned many in the crowd when he went into some beat boxing à la Doug E. Fresh.
Richard Bona, from the African state of Cameroon, is no stranger to St Lucia Jazz. The bassist and singer, who performed twice at the event before, sings in his native language. He recently made a foray into Latin-flavoured jazz and is now working with Mandekan Cubano, a group of musicians from Cuba.
Bona has a warm, soothing voice that’s almost hypnotic. You may not understand the words he’s singing but you are entranced by every note. He switches effortlessly from his natural singing voice to falsetto. He engaged the crowd in a call and response that was as much fun for the patrons as it was for him.
The festival came to the perfect climax on Sunday night featuring Grammy Award winning singer and actress, Vanessa Williams, who left it all on the stage during her 45 minute performance. She sang many hits from her repertoire including Save the best for last, which the fans were waiting to hear.
Thomas Leonce, chief executive officer of Events Company of St Lucia, the new producers of the show, told Bajan Vibes he was pleased with how the festival turned out.
“We will meet to review Jazz 2017 in terms of the hits and the misses. We would need to look at the number of artistes on the line-up for the various shows, the mix between straight-ahead and contemporary jazz, the ability of artistes to cross genres, marketing, promotions, and so on,” he