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REVIEW: Jazz Jamaica at the Jazz Cafe

Jazz Jamaica
Publicity Photo
Jazz Jamaica
(Jazz Café, Camden. 12 April 2019. Review by Kate Delamere)

If you could bottle a good time, Jazz Jamaica would have it licked. Whatever tough times you’re going through this jazz reggae music group that won BBC Jazz Best Band Award in 2002, will zap your cares away with their powerful and positive upbeat arrangements of classic tunes. They spread joy and happiness like a musical ‘Pollyanna’!

Their enticing elixir is a fusion of ska, reggae and classic and modern jazz styles with a dollop of Jamaican folk songs thrown in. Who’d have known this mix could be so potently uplifting for the human condition!

The group were formed by the inspirational jazz double bassist and one of the original Jazz Warriors Gary Crosby in London in 1991, who was himself inspired by the rhythms of traditional Jamaican music and improvisational jazz. And this creative genius with a magic touch for recognising rising stars has much to be thanked for.

Cara Crosby-Irons practically raised the roof of Camden’s Jazz Café belting out Millie Small’s popular classic My Boy Lollipop and Bob Marley’s Waiting In Vain, joined by the smokey and intense sound of trumpeter Mark Kavuma, she got everyone dancing and making friends in the audience. (I found myself leaping around with Robert – a diehard fan who’s faithfully followed Jazz Jamaica’s beat to gigs at festivals all over the world. And judging by the megawatt smile on his face he’s found more than a new religion – he’s had a positive spiritual conversion.)

Singer Cherise Adams-Burnell helped us lay to rest past heartbreaks with her stunning and emotive rendition of Jamaican recording artist Dawn Penn’s No No No (You Don’t Love Me).

The set also included some awesome solos, such as the sparkling organ one played by Dian Gasper on Harry J Allstar’s reggae instrumental Liquidator – it proved the instrument is the closest to heaven by far!

Each musician, without fail, brought something to the party. Camilla George on alto saxophone was a delight to watch, with a skilful Denys Baptiste on tenor sax and flute, brilliant Rod Youngs on drums, joyful Harry Brown on trombone and perky Pete Eckford on percussion.

Could Jazz Jamaica be a new world religion? I may not have had a spiritual conversion… yet. But they certainly gave me a spiritual awakening.


Green Island
Don’t Stay Away
Waiting In Vain
No No No [You Don’t Love Me]
Eastern Standard
What About Me?
Police and Thieves
My Boy Lollipop


Gary Crosby,  band leader
Cherise Adams-Burnett, vocals
Cara Crosby-Irons, vocals
Camilla George, alto sax
Denys Baptiste, tenor/soprano sax
Mark Kavuma, trumpet
Harry Brown, trombone
Diân Gasper, piano/organ
Shirley Tetteh, guitar
Gabriel Lord-Baptiste, guitar
Lance Rose, double bass
Pete Eckford, percussion
Rod Youngs, drums

Categories: Live reviews

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