LAUNCH OF ST. LUCIA JAZZ 2012Original post, February 08, 2012 Update 2, May 02, 2012
On Thursday, January 26 2012, the twentieth edition of St. Lucia Jazz was launched live on radio and television – for the first time. Stakeholders of the festival gathered ‘in-studio’ at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort on the Pigeon Island Causeway to await the much-anticipated announcement of the line up for the purportedly pared down event.
As background, St. Lucia Jazz actually started in 1991 as the St. Lucia Jazz Festival, as it was called then. It was – and still is – a marketing ploy to boost tourism in the off-season.
In the ensuing 20 years of its existence, St. Lucia Jazz has become a world-class event that has featured the biggest and heaviest names in Jazz, Cadence, zouk, reggae, pop, R&B and everything in between. Name them and they have been to (Anita Baker, Boys II Men, Kenny G, Rihanna, Santana) and performed at (Boo Hinkson, Luther Francois, Shane Ross, Teddyson John) St. Lucia Jazz.
Speaking at the launch, St. Lucia’s Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis stated that the country has “…every reason to be proud… It has not been an easy road. We have many challenges.”
Referring to the idea of carrying the launch live, the Director of Tourism rationalised that the goal was to “…reach out to people who cannot participate in the Jazz Festival.”
As for the festival, Director Lewis revealed that St. Lucia Jazz has now opted for a wider embrace of the so-called fringe events – he prefers to call them “community events” – by bringing together the ancillary community organisations that have produced those ‘outfests’ at venues in Castries, the East, South and elsewhere on the island under one banner, one festival, St. Lucia Jazz.
This fresh approach comes with some well-needed changes to the format, the point being that St. Lucia Jazz is no longer living up to the original objectives. To address this issue, a different track is proposed, one that focusses on a tighter festival. The result is a reduction in the number of acts to address the problem of the increasing length of the festival days. With shows ending as late as 10:00 pm at the Main Stage on Pigeon Island for instance, it is felt that the character of the national park has been so stultified as to eliminate the lure of a picnic and the child and elderly-friendly atmosphere it fosters.
Regarding the so-called Community Events like Jazz on the Square, it was noted that they have steadily outlived their usefulness. Singling out the Derek Walcott Square (Jazz on the Square), complaints abound that it is hot, parking is limited and the businesses in the area have not embraced it. Apparently, the surrounding business houses are harping on the noise and the perceived disruptions to their mercantile activities. So…the action has been moved to Pointe Seraphine just outside central Castries.
The St. Lucia Jazz producers claim to recognise that the Jazz Festival is not living up to the original objectives, hence the formation of a core group of people who were tasked with the responsibility of doing some brainstorming. They have concluded that the Jazz Festival is not living up to the original objectives and that the focus should be on tightening it up. Therefore, the decision was made to reduce the number of acts in part because the increasing length of the festival days has stultified the event.
Looking further forward into the future, St. Lucia Jazz believes some bold steps need to be taken if for no other reason but to reinvigorate the festival and transit this marquee event to something that is more truly St. Lucian.
The expectation is that they will continue to enjoy the logistical support of the sponsors, particularly Platinum Sponsor, Digicel, which has just renewed its association with St. Lucia Jazz for a second three-year term. Digicel’s Country Manager for the Eastern Caribbean, Geraldine Pitt, told the launch party that Digicel is “excited to put on a show as never before” this year, stressing that their sponsorship is gratitude for the support of the St. Lucian people to the company. That relationship, she noted, strengthens the company’s resolve “to provide an avenue to market the event throughout the Caribbean… This is the commitment of Digicel!”
The launch was impressively choreographed and MC’d in spirited fashion. However, if I am afforded one pet peeve, it would have to be the appearance of Mervin Wilkinson and 1090 who was a waste of time, playing pop and reggae at the launch of a Jazz Festival. The chatterboxes on Scruffy TV agree.
Now for the line up
OPENING: April 30: Mindoo Phillip
Moon River Jazz: (Canaries)
Tuesday, May o1: Ronald Tulle Jazz Project
JAZZ IN THE SOUTH (Labowi Promotions)
April 28: Coconut Bay Resort & Spa: Sisterhood (Barbara Cadet), Loula Trio featuring Ricardo Francois |April 29: Black Antz Jazz Combo, Rupert Lay Quartet, Etienne Charles
Tuesday May 01: Rudy John Beach Park – Cameron Pierre (Dominica/UK) featuring Fred Nicholas (Dominica) Ricardo Francois, Emerson Nurse (both St. Lucia); Miki Telephe (Martinique); Alibi (St. Lucia) featuring Richard Payne, Teddyson John and Francis John; Loula Trio featuring Ricardo Francois; Laborie Steel Pan Project (St. Lucia)
Thursday, May 03: Saint Lucia School of Music, Castries, 4pm – 7pm - Master class with Cameron Pierre, UK-based Dominican guitarist, a stalwart of the British jazz scene since the 1980s, who recently released his fourth CD, ‘Radio Jumbo’.
Friday, May 04: Independence Square, Vieux Fort - Mushy Widmaier (Haiti);
Alchimik’s (Guadeloupe) Cancelled; Sisterhood (St. Lucia)
Sunday, May 06: Coconut Bay Resort & Spa, Gil Tony’k (Martinique) featuring Tony Chasseur and Gilles Voyer; Sakésho with Andy Narell (US), Mario Canonge (Martinique), Michel Alibo (Guadeloupe) and Gregory Louis; Rupert Lay Qtet (St. Lucia); Black Antz Jazz Combo (St. Lucia)
Ocean Club Jazz: (Ocean Club, Rodney Bay, May 02-07)
Wednesday, May 02: St. Lucia School of Music Sextet
Thursday, May 03: Emerson Nurse Quintet
Friday, May 04: Carl Gustave Band
Fond D’Or Jazz: (Dennery)
Saturday May 05: Fond D’Or Nature & Heritage Park – Exile One, Arturo Tappin, Boo Hinkson, Derek Yarde Project
WATERSIDE JAZZ (Caribbean Events at Duty Free Pointe Seraphine, May 07, May 09, May 11)
Monday May 07: - Clifford Charles, Frantz Laurac Quartet, Alibi featuring Richard Payne
Friday May 11: Nicholas Brancker
MAINSTAGE: (May 09-13)
Wednesday, May 09: Gaiety on Rodney Bay – Ronald “Boo” Hinkson
Thursday, May 10: Gaiety – Luther Francois followed by Mario Canonge
Friday, May 11: Main Stage, Pigeon Island National Landmark – Derek Yarde Project ‘DYP” – En Kweyol
Saturday, May 12: Pigeon Island National Landmark – Alison Marquis Nonet featuring Andy Narell
Sunday, May 13: all-star cast of Richard Payne (St. Lucia), Joel Widmaier and Jean Caze (Haiti), Sonny Troupe (Guadeloupe) and of the The Wespe Pour Ayiti Project; Hugh Masekela
Jazz on the Grill: (Fire Grill and Lounge Bar, Rodney Bay, May 07-09, May 11, May 14)
Monday, May 07: St. Lucia School of Music
Tuesday, May 08: Rob Zii & The Vibe Tribe
Wednesday, May 09: Carl Gustave & BMF Band
Friday, May 11: Luther Francois, Emerson Nurse Band
Monday, May 14: The Encore (Jam Session)
JAZZY RHYTHMZ: (JQ Rodney Bay Mall, May 07-11, May 14)
Tuesday, May 08: Boo Hinkson and Friends
TEA TIME JAZZ: (La Place Carenage, May 09-10)
Wednesday, May 09 – The Black Antz Combo
Jazz on the Bay: (Rodney Bay, May 04)
CARELLIE JAZZ, May 01: Carellie Park – Sisterhood, Ricardo “Ricky” Francois, Royal St. Lucia Police Band, Cornell Phillip