Woodvines upcoming performances

Sunday March 15th in duo with Stefan Van den Bossche 7:30 - 9:30 Waters edge restaurant BougainvilleaHotel

March 28th and 29th Harrison College Mosaic II at the Frank Collymore hall

Friday, 30 May 2014

Twinkle twinkle little spacestation

Much has been written about how so called smart devices such as iPhones and iPads have interfered with our social and family interactions.
On occasion I myself have been guilty of allowing my mind to wander away from a conversation in order to check something on my latest smart addiction.

In contrast to this, once in a while we get it right, and the worlds of the internet and smart phone create a magical tool for building unique life experiences that can be shared.

I've always been curious about space and technology, but recently my interest was piqued after downloading the NASA app for iPhone, which in turn led me to download an app for locating the International Space Station in real time. 
The ISS coming over a backyard near you!
The app, called ISS spotter not only shows the position of the ISS but it will also let you know in advance when you will be able to see it over your earthly location and from what direction it will appear.

Catching a glimpse of the ISS is not as straightforward as it sounds. During the day, the reflection of sunlight from the station is not bright enough for us to see down here in daylight and in the middle of the night there is no sunlight reflecting from the station back down to earth. To be seen from the earth's surface, the ISS has to pass overhead at dawn or dusk when the suns rays still catch the station and the earth below is in shadow.

A few weeks ago the ISS spotter App predicted that the station would be passing over Barbados in the early evening. My youngest son and I shared a magical moment on our back patio, tracking the ISS on my iPhone as it passed over Canada then the United states and finally made it's way over to our corner of the world. As it's orbit brought it closer, we looked up in the direction the app indicated and there, passing over us, was the most amazing man made achievement silently sweeping through our tropical sky.

The somewhat geeky fun didn't end there. On April 30th NASA made the video feeds from four cameras attached to the outside of the ISS available to any earthling with an internet connection. The link to the website and video feed is here.
I hooked up my computer and TV via an HDMI cable while my family gathered around to see our beautiful planet filmed from space in real time.
Using the ISS spotter we were able to see its position and figure out what part of the world we were looking at. The icing on the cake came when the ISS passed over the Caribbean and in the comfort of our living room we caught a glimpse of our beautiful island home from the edge of space.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Harrison College music department running low on quarter notes and sharps.

Two fund raising concerts in tribute to the late Harrison College headmaster Albert Williams and music education icon Janice Millington will be held at the Frank Collymore Hall on March 7th and 8th 2014.
Proceeds from the concert will be in aid of the HC music department which I understand is running dangerously low on quarter notes and sharps after recent funding cuts.

Students tell me they can only play pieces in flat keys and are having to tie eighth notes together in order to perform certain passages. The cost of music notes has been badly hit by the global recession, clefs can be expensive to ship and a recent tax on repeat signs are adding to the challenges faced by today's young Barbadian musicians.

Here is a promo clip for the event;

We had a wonderful rehearsal on Saturday, no temper tantrums or ego trips, just lots of great music and poor jokes.

I hope we can raise enough money for those notes.....

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Good evening at New Morning

Fal Frett, the Martinique group with whom I've enjoyed a wonderful association for the past 15 years recently performed in a very special place - the New Morning Jazz club in Paris, France.
Opened in 1981, the New Morning has featured performances by such jazz legends as Art Blakey, Pat Metheny, Stan Getz, Chet baker and Dizzy Gillespie just to name a few. Considered by the French to be the equivalent of New York's Village Vanguard or Blue Note, the New Morning is one of those marquis venues that every European jazz musician aspires to perform in.
While still coming to grips with jet lag and the fatigue of the previous day's red eye flight from Martinique, we stepped out of a cold grey Parisian February afternoon into the darkened club. The New Morning's subdued lighting, decor and aroma could only be that of a classic jazz club and we were all struck by the atmosphere and history that seemed to exude from it's walls.
A panoramic view of the club from the entrance hall
If the decor and ambiance were warm, the temperature definitely was not! and our group of thin blooded Caribbean musicians for the most part kept their sweaters on.
The first task was to assemble the vibraphone - isn't that what everyone does when they go in a jazz club?

We had to be quiet while the piano tuner tuned the Yamaha grand piano, this gave me an opportunity to walk around and check out some of the pictures...

We had a long afternoon setup and sound check, then another long wait for our performance at 9:30 (Or 21:30 if you are French).

Having spent so much time living in the Caribbean, it was interesting to again work in a colder, less humid environment. My alto sax behaved differently, the middle register G suddenly grew stuffy and the tuning on all three of my horns was a challenge. The experience reminded me of my time at Berklee College of Music in Boston where cold fingers in winter were par for the course. It would be nice to have more opportunities working under these conditions and particularly situations where I'm moving between performances in the Caribbean and much cooler winter jazz clubs and festivals.

Here is a video of our first song for the evening - the Fal Frett composition Cha Pistache

Our trip was made possible by Fal Frett's producer and label owner Don Miguel Elizabeth of Dons Music.
As you can tell from the video, Don Miguel's promotional efforts paid off and the room was filled with fans of Fal frett. Here is a pictorial review by Marie-Claude Bewa 

I should also mention that our hotel, the Hotel Magenta, was very nice with small but recently renovated modern rooms in an ancient but tastefully decorated building. Interestingly the elevator went to the 6th floor and my room was on the 7th which meant that I had to lug my suitcase up stairs that reminded me of a Harry Potter film. The staff were very pleasant and the breakfast was excellent. On the return journey I had to overnight in my Martinique home away from home - the Centre International de Séjour.
view from hotel in Martinique
view from the Hotel Magenta, yes this is a color picture and that is the sun!!

Here are two pictures, views from the two different hotel's windows capturing the contrast between the worlds of wintery Europe and the sunny Caribbean. Where would you prefer to be?