This year’s Saint Lucia Jazz is off and running but in smaller venues, and with a purer sound for those who love the music genre. This is the third and final year of the pilot model for the music festival organised by government since taking office in 2016.
Whether government will continue with this new model is uncertain at the moment as organisers plan to go back to the drawing board after jazz week is over to ascertain their next move going forward.
However, for now, the jazz festival is in full swing opening with West Coast Jazz in Anse la Raye, and shows in Choiseul and Laborie over the past weekend.
To government ministers, especially Culture Minister Fortuna Belrose, last weekend was quite a treat for those people who patronized the various jazz venues.
“It was wonderful. We had a great experience. What I think was really good in Laborie, Anse la Raye and Choiseul was the cleanliness of the environment,” Belrose said, giving kudos to the residents of the three communities for an impeccably clean environment within which the shows were held.
Unlike previous years there has been no lavish opening of Saint Lucia Jazz, where some big name performer in the soca, reggae, dancehall or pop music genres would have headlined. Also absent is the buzz of jazz music in the air and the busy atmosphere that takes over the country during that time of the year, especially in the shopping centre of the City of Castries.
Aside from the three communities mentioned there have been no organised jazz sessions in other communities across the island, something that was a feature on the calendar of past organisers.
Belrose made mention of some of the communities left out of the picture this year saying that as government takes another look at the festival, expanding jazz into other communities is a possibility, something that may well take place next year.
“We are coming to the end of the pilot phase which will give us the template for moving into more communities across Saint Lucia,” Belrose said.
Despite all this, Belrose is insisting that the shows so far were of a high-quality, with exceptional performances from local and international acts.
With the festival progressing smoothly, according to Belrose, anticipation continues to build for this weekend’s events.
“The communities are taking ownership and our young people are beginning to see and dream of the opportunity to be on stage,” Belrose said, adding that this is exactly government’s objective, which is to make jazz something young people can have a desire for, which can inspire them to get onto the big stage and perform. An example of that is the performance of the Marchand Youth Orchestra last Friday in Anse la Raye with a sterling performance.
“That’s why the venues are smaller this year and why we reached out to the young people across the country this year who have some talent to be part of the celebrations,” Belrose said.
A venue that over the years seemed synonymous with the festival was this year axed from the organizers’ list of venues.
“The Pigeon Island National Landmark is not a venue this year for jazz,” Belrose told reporters yesterday. While this may come as a blow to many jazz lovers who over the years soaked up the strains of jazz music on the final day, usually Mother’s Day, at the Landmark, government this year decided on a new venue for the Saint Lucia Jazz curtain dropping.
The new venue, called Shangri-La, located where La Feuille meets Bonne Terre and Caye Mange is a garden type, outdoor property that organisers say was not meant to replace the Pigeon Island Landmark, but rather is in keeping with intimate venue concept.
Organizers believe that Shangri-La is ideal for the Mother’s Day Gospel Jazz Brunch that is planned for the venue come Sunday featuring the Baylor Project, Shirleyann Cyril-Mayers and God’s Anointed Music Ministry.