Fifth annual Jazz Festival features local and international artists
The fifth annual Jazz Festival kicked off last night and will run up until Sunday. The Jazz Festival features several international artists as well as local artists. According to Karen Vernon, the theatre director of the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts, the purpose of having the Jazz Festival is to foster a deeper appreciation for jazz among local musicians since it is the foundation upon which music is built.
Karen Vernon – Theatre Director, Bliss Center for the Performing Arts: “Last night we had an Open Jam session at the Mexican Institute. We had Omolewa Ossain, we had Dicky Straughn Quartet, we had Kelberman and we closed off with the Morena Son which is an all female band from Cuba, a traditional jazz type of music. They ended off with a big bang so I think we had a successful start to the Belize International Jazz Festival. We continue today, we have a piano pair recital and workshop this evening at the Belize School of Music and we continue with a jam session at the Radisson at 5:30, then at 7 pm tonight we have a Sac Jazz session at the Bliss Cafe. Tomorrow we have a jam session at Spooners and that is at 8 pm. We have the International Youth Orchestra along with the Kelberman Jazz Quartet.Omalewa Ossain and of course Don Drake, it is going to be a total jam session. Spooners has been with us for the past five years, this has been a venue for the jam session on Friday night so it is a quite looked after event. There is also Morena Son at the northern shops and they are having a food and jazz festival included in the Jazz Festival. On Saturday we have another jam session at the northern shops and a festival at the Radisson with Morena Son and on Sunday we close off with a big bang with a big concert at the BTL Park at 5 pm.”
There isn’t any cover charge to attend the performances with the exception of Spoonaz. The closing of the Jazz Festival takes place on Sunday at the BTL Park and it will feature local marching bands. Apart from the performances, there are several workshops lined up to broaden local musicians’ knowledge about jazz.
2019 Belize International Jazz Festival Commences with a Bang
The 2019 Belize International Jazz Festival started on Wednesday night with a bang as the Mexican Institute in Belize City was the venue for a jam session featuring Belizean and international musicians. It’s the fifth annual festival of this kind that seeks to develop a greater appreciation for the style of music that has grown over the years to combine cultural influences. Percussionists Dawn Drake joined Carlos Perrote and others.
Karen Vernon, Organizer, Belize International Jazz Festival
“It started last night at the Mexican institute with a grand slam opening jam session. We had a nice audience. They were into the jazz. I’m excited to see that every year our audiences are growing. What’s exciting for our audiences is that we have a great line up of shows, a great line up of musicians over the next five days for you. Back with us this year, we have Dawn Drake. Dawn came last year with her band, Zapote, and she is back solo this year and she wowed the crowd last night at the Mexican Institute with some nice reggae jazz music.”
Dawn Drake, Percussionist
“I played, collaborate with Carlos Perrote, who is one of the organizers and also with some local musicians. And that was the first time that I’ve had them learn my music and we had a great rehearsal and then last night we jammed and I think the crowd was really into it.”
“I understand that you had this fusion where you had reggae. Talk to us about that.”
“Well my music is a fusion of a lot of different influences from the Caribbean as well as from jazz and Central Africa, West Africa [and] Brazil. So all my music is very percussion based and part of the reason why I am here is that I studied percussion with Carlos Perrote from Cuba when he actually lived in Cuba. So I am also a percussionist and most of my music is really influenced by the African diaspora and the amazing music that comes out of that.”
“Today we have a junior recital at the Belize School of Music. Gina Scott –a recital and workshop with the children. We have a jam session at the Radisson at five-thirty and here at the Bliss we have a sax/jazz show. We’ll have it right here in the cafe and it will be very entertaining; we Richard Pitts, Dickie Strawn and some other saxophone players. Tomorrow, Friday we have our annual jam session at Spoonaz. Spoonaz has been with us since the beginning of the jazz festival and he always welcomes us over there. There will be food on sale, drinks on sale. We have the National Youth Orchestra starting out with a nice slow music and then we go into Kelberman Jazz who is from Julliard School in U.S.A. And then we go into a jam session which is always so exciting because musicians come and Carlos is there with the drums and people just come and plug in and it really gets exciting and hype. We also have with us this year, Northern Shops. They are having a food and wine fest and they have Morena Sun on Friday night and a special jazz band on Saturday night. Brunch on Sunday morning at the Radisson and our grand closing concert Sunday at the B.T.L. Park.”