JAZZIN’ IN JAHMEKYAH!

(Originally published at OnePaper.com)

On a Fathers’ Day more than one decade ago, a group of Jazz lovers decided that they were going to add a little something extra to the Jamaican musical landscape. Musician and Journalist Sonny Bradshaw dubbed his creation “The Ocho Rios Mini Jazz Festival: Greatest Names in Jamaican Jazz”, intending to provide just that one day of family entertainment. The response to the event was predictable: since that first day, the Jamaican Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival has grown to embrace 8 days of Jazz and fellowship.

Jazz is actually quite popular in Jamaica; for many years, the island has been churning out some of the world’s top musicians. Their influence has been felt on pop cuties like “My Boy Lollipop” (Ernest Ranglin’s arrangements), lover’s rock by saxist Dean Fraser, and alongside colleagues such as Miles Davis (Dizzy ‘Son’ Reece); the late Frank Sinatra said of Monty Alexander, “The kid is a gas!”

There is so much Jazz talent in Jamaica that Bradshaw didn’t stop at the yearly Jazz fest: he mounted a Jamaican Jazz Hall of Fame as well as The Sonny Bradshaw School Band Competition. In this way, respect is paid to trailblazers while the next generation gets the nurturing that it needs. “Jamaica Friends of Jazz” has also been formed as a way of increasing opportunities for Jazz artists in Jamaica and sharing industry news. Membership is free; for more information, send correspondence to The Jazz Centre 22 East Kings House Road Kingston 6 or phone: (876) 927-3544.

For more information regarding the Festival, its history, travel and lodging, click here.

Note: The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival now maintains a Facebook page.