Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Jazzed up farewell to UWI's 70th

Published:Tuesday | July 31, 2018 | 12:00 AMMichael Reckord/Gleaner Writer
Desi Jones
Marjorie Whylie
Peter Ashbourne
Arturo Tappin performing at Sunday's Chancellor's Jazz Farewell at the Oriental Gardens, UWI, Mona.
Myrna Hague

When Barbadian singer and saxophonist Arturo Tappin played Bill Clinton, a lover and player of the saxophone, the former United States president was "impressed". This was relayed to The Gleaner on Sunday, shortly before Tappin took to the stage set up in the UWI, Mona's Oriental Gardens for an evening of jazz.

Dubbed the Chancellor's Jazz Farewell, it marked the culmination of a week of activities celebrating the university's 70th anniversary. Also on stage were some of the island's top musicians, including Peter Ashbourne (on violin and keyboard), Marjorie Whylie (keyboard), vocalist Myrna Hague and the backing band, Desi Jones and Friends. Those friends were Dale Haslam (bass), Ian Hird (flute and saxophone), Armardo (keyboard) and Okiel McIntyre (trumpet). Emcee Fae Ellington guided the proceedings with her usual effervescence and wit.

After noting the beauty of the surroundings - the greenery, colourful flowers and majesty of the surrounding hills - and declaring the garden "the best place to be on Earth", Ellington called Ashbourne to the stage. On the violin, he played the jazz standard Lullaby of Birdland, then went to his keyboard to deliver a lively original number, Open Ralph. Ashbourne said he had written it quickly and in an emergency, dedicating it to Jamaican-American actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.

Whylie next delighted guests with the jazzy 'Invitation' and two of her own pieces - a gently flowing River of Peace, written in 1990, and a bouncy Creole Dance filled with Caribbean rhythms from Trinidad and Tobago, which was written for an early National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) show.




Promising that all her songs would be love songs, Hague delivered a slew of well-known songs, including Call Me, Falling in Love with Love, Stormy Weather, Days of Wine and Roses and Who Can I Turn To. Her amiable manner, textured tones and her classy presentation earned her prolonged applause. After the break Tappin was ushered on for what was scheduled to be a 60-minute presentation, delivering about a dozen pieces. It was an indication of his professionalism, proof of which was shown in every item he performed. Tappin demonstrated that he is what the emcee declared him to be - "one of the Caribbean's best musicians".

Among his pieces were the opening number, Mack the Knife, You Make Me Feel Brand New, Just the Way You Are (which he dedicated to his cousin, Senator Donna Scott-Mottley), Pressure Drop and How Deep is Your Love. One of the liveliest pieces, which Tappin sang in Creole, was described as being about a man who was rebuffed when he asked a young woman for a kiss. Hague joined him on stage to sing, while he played on his tenor saxophone Bob Marley's Waiting in Vain.

Just as President Clinton was impressed by Tappin's playing, so, too were members of Sunday evening's audience. They showed this by their applause and cheers, as they left their chairs and danced to some of the tunes and asking for more when Tappin initially left the stage.

He returned for a final number, the calypso Ole Lady Walk a Mile an a Half, which pulled even more people from their seats to dance.