As part of the celebrations for Creole Heritage Month, the Saint Lucia School of Music (SLSM) organised two concerts featuring jazz musicians paying homage to creole rhythms and musical style.
The first concert, with the assistance of Jazz in the South, was held on Thursday 22nd October in Laborie Parish Hall; the second took place the following evening at Musicbox at the Golden Palm Events Centre in Rodney Heights. The main act for both nights was the Jocelyn Ménard Quartet from Guadeloupe.
Richard Payne, the Executive Director of the SLSM, featured in both concerts. As the opening act at Musicbox he played the Bernstein piano accompanied by a student of the SLSM, 16-year-old Rashaad Joseph on saxophone, and by Nigel Nestor (who was working tirelessly everywhere and every day last weekend) on percussion. Young Rashaad seemed to have been born to play the sax and gave the audience assurance that the SLSM is nurturing future talent to a high level.
Richard Payne remained on stage to perform as part of the group Alibi also featuring Zack Popo on guitar, Francis John on bass and Teddyson John on drums and vocals, much to the delight of several ladies in the concert hall. The group honoured audience member Charles Cadet by presenting one of his compositions – the popular folk piece ‘Estafan’ from the play ‘Banjo Man’ – arranged by Payne in a creole jazz style specifically for the event. The group finished with a rendition of Machel Montano’s ‘Epic’.
Jocelyn Ménard hails from Montreal but moved to Guadeloupe to teach music, eventually opening his own school. One of his projects is the development of ‘Gwanada’ which he describes as Caribbean rhythms mixed into the blues and bop of North America with influences from his native Canada. Ménard’s philosophy is that music is not only about listening, it is also about awakening the soul. The quartet brought this home to the audience by impressing with every tune and with every solo section: sax, clarinet, piano, double bass and a magnificent display on drums.
The concerts were made possible with the the kind support of Alliance Française and Bank of Saint Lucia. They are an innovative way to celebrate our creole heritage and audience members clearly hoped that they will become an annual event.