Garrett, John Novello with Freewinds Band
@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festval
May 13 2006
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review in order of stage appearance.
The scenery near this venue entrance alone is enough to take
your breath away. Your senses are bombarded by the smell of chicken,
fish and other freshly prepared delicacies on offer. You cannot
ignore ‘or not admire’ the sight of multi-coloured stalls
and multi-coloured homemade items on display by local sellers, who
proudly parade their wares. Illuminated trees and historical ruins
silhouette against the revamped hooded stage (to cater for all types
The first daytime venue at Pigeon Island and probably the most
popular part of the Jazz Festival began with the promise of another
hot day - and even less clothing being worn by excited patrons young
A relaxing sail on the coast, adjacent to the main road made a
perfect start to the day, with a dinghy dropping us off at the jetty
for a short trot to the main stage.
John Novello biography
Composer, Jazz and R&B Hammond keyboard guru John Novello
has played alongside music greats such as Chic Corea and Oleta Adams.
The sight and physical presence of his large ‘old school desk
look-alike’ Hammond organ alone was enough to set journalists,
and patrons tongues wagging. It took some time before the well-worked
stage hands finally got it all together, especially after Rihanna’s
sparse stage set up.
At this time of the day it was important to set a pace that the
now dehydrated crowd could follow. Many patrons had taken time out
for refreshments, so Novello and co would have to provide their
own refreshing treat to encourage people back to their usual space.
Novello’s vibrant self-penned compositions were the order
of the day. “Someday” and “Blues Rock” allowed
Novello’s Hammond and the intricate saxophone solos of Jeff
Nathanson to come to life. The Freewinds Band also proved why they
needed the whole stage to breath. Each band member’s own energetic
personality soon working it’s way into each composition.
The powerhouse vocals of Michele Henderson and Carmel Halene were
a pleasant surprise, and an eye-catching addition to the stage line-up.
Halene has worked with Novello before, so her raw soulful / rock
combination was bound to work well, and win the attention of male
and female patrons alike.
Novello’s contribution to the band's overall cohesion can
be easily overlooked. His instrument is BIG, the many colours and
textures he paints on his musical canvas are subtle, but never the
Just when you thought it safe to presume you heard all of what
Novello and co had to offer, the unforgettable, electric guitar
chord structure of Prince’s “Purple Rain” stunned
our ear drums. A dramatic finale to an extremely well received set.
John Novello and The Freewinds Band contagious melodic magic worked
wonders for the well-heated Pigeon Island patrons. Their bluesy
/ soulful set finished just as the sun was at it’s mid-afternoon
peak. I found it difficult enough to maintain and adjust my camera’s
exposure, so I really do not know how the band or black leather
clad ladies kept their composure in the searing ninety-degree heat!
Kenny Garrett biography
Kenny Garrett is hailed as, one of the most exciting saxophonists
of the past decade! His career started with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
He went on to join the Art Blakey Messengers, and was one of the
last significant graduates of the Miles Davis Group. Garrett has
worked with artists such as Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody
Shaw, Herbie Hancock, and Sting to name a few.
With the above extremely condensed biography in mind, I was expecting
great things from Kenny Garrett. Though the sun’s initial
power was starting to wane, you could still feel the heat from the
stage as Garrett walked on with alto saxophone in hand, smiling
and waving to the expectant crowd. Within a few seconds Garrett
started whipping up a mellow storm.
Garrett has a commanding presence and authoritative tone; he can
stir many emotions with cool haunting melodies, funky sax solos,
or hard-hitting bop. His spoken words alone make you ‘sit
up and listen’. By now he had brought the crowd to its feet
with the aptly titled “Happy People”.
The sun began to set at 6.30 PM, making way for the gradual charm
of coloured stage lighting. The many hues and shadows seemed to
dance with excitement as Garrett and his adept musicians continued
to cast their spell over the swaying crowd.
If one musician alone can encapsulate the St. Lucia Jazz Festival,
the many colours, charm, wit, and above all - the outstanding quality
of music it has to offer, Kenny Garrett is your man.
John Novello - Hammond Organ
John Politakis - drums
Jeff Nathanson - saxophone
Gabby Mercera -percussion
Steven Schlussel - bass guitar
Patrick Zagury - guitar
Kenny Garrett - saxophone
Report Robin Francis
Additional information Carole Clemesha