(Originally published at OnePaper.com)
TORONTO, ONTARIO – The stage is set with all varieties of live instruments; the ensemble cast represents all corners of the United Nations and the sound is a fusion of Caribbean flavours mixed with the smooth layering of jazz rhythms, old and new. This is where Kalabash changes all the rules and delivers aural aromatherapy to its listeners.
Kalabash is a contemporary jazz sextet that was formed in 1993 with two goals: first, to feature the steel drum as a lead voice in a jazz ensemble, and second, to experiment with a fusion of the folk and popular rhythms of the Caribbean with the improvisatory form and rich harmonies of jazz.
“The music has an air of unhurriedness and is imbibed with a mellow, soulful vibe, which makes it ideal for easy listening.” (Trinidad Guardian April 20 – 21 2001)
Their self-titled debut album is a cornucopia of beautiful aural rhythms comprising jazz standards, jazz-fusion gems, and originals that often use the rhythms of the Caribbean as a starting point. Given that two of its members are Trinidadians – Darren Sheppard and percussionist Anthony Pierre, credited with being the “catalyst” behind the group – and others have links with the region, it is clear that the moods and moments of Caribbean life are threaded through the music like an invisible thread.
The group has established themselves as one of the hottest contemporary jazz groups in Toronto by working non-stop: The Molson Stage, Harbourfront- Du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival (1994); The Super Dome, New Orleans for Essence Magazine’s 25th Anniversary Music Festival (1995); The Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival (1995, 1996); and a one hour spot on BRAVO Television’s “Jazzman” series (1995) featured extensively on “BET on Jazz”; regular shows at Toronto’s popular Bamboo Club Jazz Nights (1998-1999); and most recently, a concert with famed Jamaican folklorist and jazz pianist, Marjorie Whylie at University of Toronto Faculty of Music (2000).
Deciding to return to their musical roots, the band traveled to Trinidad last month to launch their debut CD to rave reviews and packed houses. “When Kalabash began its performance… it was as if a burst of warmth cascaded into the venue; the intensity and beauty of the music continued throughout the three-hour show… ”
“A greater Caribbean flavour was evident in the show’s second half as Kalabash highlighted the songs on its album. That flavour came through in songs like “Pan Rebellion”, which Darren Sheppard originally arranged as a Panorama tune for Fonclaire; and “Bash”, an up-tempo track which alternates between calypso and jazz.” (Trinidad Guardian, April 20 – 21st 2001)
The musicians featured on the CD are: Orin Isaacs, Wilson Laurencin, Darren Sheppard, Tony Pierre, Demo Cates, David Williams, Andrew Craig, Colleen Allen, Rich Brown, Brian Gagnon and Mark McLean.
Samples from the new LP by Kalabash may be heard via a special page at FeteNet.com (These samples no longer exist on the web site; samples may now be found on Kalabash’s official web site)
(Courtesy of www.fetenet.com; Kalabash unveiled their CD to the Canadian public on May 20th at Berlin Nightclub, 2335 Yonge Street [Eglinton]) Official contact: Joan Pierre Telephone: 416-590-9309 Fax: 416-590-9605 Email: email@example.com