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St.Lucia: West Coast Jazz – Good Enough for Main Stage!

On Monday morning I was inviting our entire editorial department to next year’s West Coast Jazz based strictly on last Saturday’s event. My enthusiasm had little to do with the $30 ticket price, even though it made what I was recommending to my colleagues all the more attractive. Most of the main events of Soleil Jazz were staged at our plush hotel resorts and, no doubt, patrons enjoyed the music as much as they did dressing to impress, not to say the chance to sample some expensive gourmet cuisine. For others such as me, for whom dress codes are like shackles, who enjoy getting up and walking around a whole lot more than being glued to chairs, however great the music, the fringe events were precisely the ticket.

I found myself at Quantum Gardens in Massacre, with ease of access to a parking facility (Total Construction Supplies) and shuttle service. The initial hours didn’t attract a full house but that made it easier to lie back on a blanket under an umbrella as the music flowed my way from the stage. The opening act, Charles Cadet Youth Orchestra, played in tribute to its founder Petronilla Deterville. The repertoire comprised modern jazz and soca sounds, and occasional solos. Amy Stephens offered the only voice rendition, a self-penned song. It was proudly announced that most of the Charles Cadet Youth Orchestra reside in Anse la Raye.

Despite, the obvious talent of the Charles Cadet Youth Orchestra, my favourite moments were courtesy of Antonious Henry, for the past 25 years a member of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Band. The Anse la Raye resident, via his saxophone renditions, certainly delivered again on the occasion. Oh, but it was when Henry’s daughter joined him for a personalized duet of  “Unforgettable” that my boat was truly rocked. Wherever they were, the original performer Nat King Cole, and his daughter Natalie, must’ve bowed in appreciation.    

Other acts included Rob Zii & Phyness, who performed popular and original jazz and Latin jazz numbers, and the Adrián Oropeza Trío from Mexico. The three men—Adrián Oropeza on drums, Israel Cupich on double bass and Daniel Wong on piano—performed in a series of Soleil Jazz Festival fringe events last week, even hosting their own show for two nights.

Deboson, a band from Cuba also performed at Quantum Gardens on Saturday. Evalucian entertained during the latter hours, when patrons were out in full capacity.

The performers from Latin America were all in keeping with the West Coast Jazz theme: “Latin Xperience”.

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