Jazz in Jamaica is a tradition that was picked up and carried on by leading orchestras on the island during the 1940s. Bands like Redver Cook, Milton Mcpherson, Roy Coburn and the legendary Eric Deans Ochestras contributed greatly to the development of Jazz. These bands sharpened the talents of musicians that would later make names for themselves on both sides of the Atlantic. Among the musicians that established themselves internationally are:
- Saxophonists Wilton Gaynair
- Harold “Little G” Mcnair
- Joe Harriott
- Trumpeters Dizzy Reece and Sonny Gray
- pianist Monty Alexander
A second generation, remained in Jamaica and became the innovators of ska. Ska went on to be the next phase in the evolution of the Jamaican music.
Today, Jazz in Jamaica continues to be of relatively minor interest. But, one thing is sure, it is kept alive by one of the most loyal set of fans and the rich legacy of veteran trumpeter and bandleader Sonny Bradshaw. Bradshaw was the producer of the annual Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, which celebrated it’s 21st anniversary this summer, 2011.
Bradshaw presented jazz in its purest form, bringing out and presenting the best of local players. Some of these local players included James Moody, Jimmy Smith, Herbie Mann and Huston Person. Also in addition to the annual Jamaica Jazz and Blues festival, live smooth jazz can be heard at clubs across Kingston and in some of our resorts or hotel.
The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival
The Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival is another musical event held annually in Montego Bay. It is a more commercial music festival that is light on jazz and blues and heavy on vintage R&B, contemporary soul, pop, reggae and country and western music. This festival has been proven to be a huge success with local Jamaicans, and also attracts quite a bit of international stars and foreigners.