Family Tree Grégory Privat Trio
Martiniquan pianist Grégory Privat reveals in his new album of music, Family Tree, the subtle links between the Caribbean trove of rhythms and melodies and the grand vocabulary of jazz. Supported this time by bassist Linley Marthe originally from Mauritius and fellow Martniquan Tilo Bertholo on drums, Privat with his fluid playing centres the idea that the roots of jazz are firmly planted in the Caribbean creole culture that was present at the genesis of jazz. The music finds inspiration in the beguine, the bèlè and gwoka of his native Martinique and Guadeloupe. Bassist and drummer Marthe and Bertholo respectively, despite their creole backgrounds, evince the African DNA of the new world rhythms that a Caribbean perspective has produced. Privat is a fine musician with solid classical and jazz training who on this album finds the core impulse of a iconoclast to dynamically paint anew the heritage and beauty of jazz that is found in these Antilles.
Double Take Elan Trotman’s Tropicality
(Island Muzik Productions)
“First impressions are the most lasting,” is a popular proverb that makes the case for a grand debut to cement a perfect memory. Well, certainly not this time as Barbadian saxophonist Elan Trotman has recast a number of his previously released songs from his many years as a recording artist and given them a second look, a double take if you will. He has refreshed the sound and arrangements of his Caribbean-rhythm infused smooth jazz to make them shine through—to Caribbean ears at least—with the positioning of the steelpan in a more forward position. His vocals on Bill Withers’ classic “Lovely Day” are direct and make one smile at the simple charm of this song. “Tradewinds” is the antithesis to a dull day in the tropics; lilting and easy to dance to. His band of fellow Berklee College of Music alumni, Tropicality, has the musical chops to make this new impression far from diminished.
All Because You Love Me (Single) Stephen John
Love songs don’t get more universal than this. Universal in the sense that this praise song addresses more than feelings of love between people, but speaks to that relationship with God that has John and his collaborators, “walking, smiling, dancing, singing.” A funky bass ostinato creates a hypnotic groove that carries John’s velvety voice—so reminiscent of R&B crooner Maxwell—along on a even pace so that the message is not hidden by the rhythmic effervescence so popular in modern praise and worship music. The production is modern and looks to an audience that understands less is sometimes more. Spoken word verses and a fabulous bridge vocal by Derron Sandy, Diamonique Roy and Faith Otey respectively address the subject of love in terms that speak to Caribbean people, and in the timbre and accent that suggests that this single can bridge regions and can make plain the non-discriminatory way we love, we walk, we dance and we sing.
What Can We Do Again? (Single) John John feat. a_phake
Trinidadian neo-soul singer John John has successfully taken on one challenge for a number of Caribbean musicians to write and sing a song that addresses issues that are larger than our Caribbean space to include the wider Americas, but still remain relevant to our instant circumstance. The question asked in the title of this powerful single—What Can We Do Again?—is made after observation of the desperation of Black souls in the Americas. “We prayed for all these years / We wasted all these tears,” is a lament of keen scrutiny by an impatient generation. The song asks a hard question and gives one solution: unify. Co-producer and co-writer, a_phake (Ravi Maharaj), strips down the song with bare accompaniment on a guitar passing through an echo reverb to add a haunting dimension to the lyric. A lyric that challenges past actions and questions current biases that have plagued people of colour in the Americas for some time is one in need of answers.
- These reviews appear in the January/February 2017 issue of Caribbean Beat magazine.
© 2017, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.