Press Release: Jamaica Music Museum collaborates with Ocho Rios Jazz Festival

In fulfilling one of its core outputs to contribute to the diversity of Kingston as a UNESCO designated creative music city, The Jamaica Music Museum (JaMM) will partner with The Ocho Rios Jazz Festival to present “Twin Double: The Art of Two”, a concert of two performances showcasing jazz renditions of standards from the Jamaican and American popular songbooks. The event is set to take place at the Institute of Jamaica’s recently acoustically enhanced performance Hall at 7pm on Saturday, June 9.

The concert will feature duets by the acclaimed American double bassist Curtis Lundy supported by the distinctive piano stylist Stephen Scott. They will share the evening with local jazz chanteuse Myrna Hague accompanied by the venerable Marjorie Whylie on piano.

Messrs Lundy and Scott and Mms Hague and Whylie are musicians with the capability of stretching the very boundaries of jazz, as well as the capacity to distil well-known and familiar songs to their elemental emotions. In addition to “jazzing up” the music of celebrated Jamaican composers Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Andy, each duo will also highlight the music of distinguished American songwriters including the eminent Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, as well as Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers, among others. These are internationally renowned composers and lyricists whose contribution to the canon of twentieth century popular music have become well-known standards.

Curtis Lundy came to prominence in the band of the great jazz vocalist Betty Carter, who nurtured several young musicians before they eventually gained individual renowned. As stated by his biography, he “is one of the most prolific in-demand bassists on the modern jazz scene”. Rather than a disciple of the free jazz movement, Mr. Lundy upholds the tradition of the mainstream, straight ahead, hard bop school. In that style, he is regarded as a world-renowned upright bassist. He is a Grammy Nominated Artist and BMI awardee, who is also a composer, arranger, producer and choir director. He is, according to Ben Ratliff of the New York Times, recognized for his ‘melodic definition [and] deep, long-lasting tones’.

As bassist, Mr. Lundy distinguished himself in the bands of Johnny Griffin, Pharaoh Sanders, John Hicks, Wallace Rooney and David Murray. In addition to recording under his own name, the bassist co-lead one of the most exciting post-bop groups in the 1990s with saxophonistBobby Watson. Mr. Lundy’s arrangement of ‘Walk With Me’, recorded by the ARC Gospel Choir, was sampled by rapperKanye West and became theGrammy Award-winning hit ‘Jesus Walks’. Curtis Lundy has been described by Jazz Times as “one of the most spiritually uplifting bassists on the jazz scene today.”

Stephen Scott played piano from the age of five and in his formative years was considered a child prodigy. As a teen, he attended New York’s High School of the Performing Arts where he was introduced to jazz. He was particularly drawn to the music of Wynton Kelly and Red Garland before taking private lessons at the Juilliard School of Music. In 1986 Mr. Scott received the Young Talent Award from the National Association of Jazz Educators [2] and within the year was hired as accompanist to Betty Carter. [3] He went on to play in bands led by artists such as Terence Blanchard, Ron Carter, Lou Donaldson, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove, and Joe Henderson(appearing on the Grammy-winning tribute to Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life [4]). He also performed and recorded with Jon Hendricks, Bobby Hutcherson, Bobby Watson, Branford Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis and Sonny Rollins. [7]

Mr. Scott, who also plays electronic keyboards, has led his own small groups on record from 1991, and has become an outstanding figure in modern jazz piano. His apprenticeship with Betty Carter and others has allowed him to developed a distinctive style, thus setting him apart and ahead of many of his contemporaries. Reviewing Mr. Scott’s recording, The Beautiful Thing About Jazz, All About Jazz says he “brings order to the improvisation surrounding the themes. The group moves effortlessly through two compositions by a Wayne Shorter, Kenny Dorham and Ornette Coleman to showcase the range of this young lion.

Myrna Hague is simply the leading jazz and cabaret voice in Jamaica. A genre defying artist, Miss Hague’s repertoire moves effortlessly between standards, bebop and popular Jamaican songs. Her annual opus, Simply Myrna, exemplifies the creative force she embodies. Marjorie Whylie’s prodigious musical artistry is both critically and popularly acknowledged. Her peers consider her a national treasure, an artist whose cultural and musical knowledge spans the range of classical, jazz and Jamaican vernacular music. A consummate accompanist, Miss Whylie too seldom performs in duet for the public so her appearance in that setting with Miss Hague is a welcomed feature on this year’s festival.

The Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, which was conceived and introduced by the late Sonny Bradshaw, is now in its twenty ninth year. His widow, Myrna Hague-Bradshaw, has kept the festival going as a tribute to her late husband over the past nine years. Regarding the partnership with the JaMM, she rhapsodized: “The collaboration is a natural progression, just like one of those chord sequences that Sonny was pleased to hear a musician execute on one of his arrangements. Embracing the JaMM is like welcoming an outstanding new musician into the band, I think it will work splendidly”, she riffed. JaMM director/ curator, Herbie Miller intoned, “as for me, I see the partnership as an augmentation that will challenge musicians to develop their craft; improve their creativity, extend the jazz sensibility toward its most expressive improvisational imaginings and inspire renewed public interest in the music as an art form”.

Admission is $1500 for adults and $750 for students under 18 with ID. The event is made possible with support from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, The Institute of Jamaica, and sponsors Freight Handler’s Ltd.