It was standing room only as those in the packed cultural space at Atherly’s, opposite Skinner Park, San Fernando, last Sunday, were treated to performances by some of T&T’s world-class artistes.
The evening’s entertainment began with pannist, arranger and founder of Fusion Steel Orchestra Darren Sheppard performing some classics including music from Grover Washington Jr, George Benson and David Rudder. His final piece, this Carnival’s infectious Long time by Nadia Batson, had the audience dancing and in full voice and set the stage for the evening.
The cozy venue was almost filled by then and the entry of ace saxophonist Francis Prime added to the already musically charged atmosphere. The renowned sax wizard left the audience spellbound with his clean, moving and well executed renditions as he shifted from one sax to another.
Superbly talented yet humble, he had the audience breaking out into spontaneous applause as he caressed each note with a sparkling finesse and interacted with the musical faithful between selections. It was Prime’s rendition of his Scouting for Talent winning selection, A Whiter Shade of Pale, that brought down the house and when he tried to leave the stage the audience demanded more.
By intermission, those in the now “standing room only” space would have in excess of their money’s worth (in the words of some patrons) even as they tried to contain their expectation that the best was yet to come.
Enter Queen of Caribbean Jazz Vaughnette Bigford. Accompanied by local master jazz guitarist Theron Shaw, the “La Brea Gyal” as she is fondly known in some circles, took the audience on a memorable musical voyage. She performed pieces from Mama Africa—Miriam Makeba, Ras Shorty I, The Mighty Shadow, her popular piece by Sparrow, No Money No Love, and more. It was a performance of breath-taking excellence as Bigford shared the stage with Shaw doing some solo runs that stunned an already elated audience.
What was striking about Bigford’s performance was her “down to earthedness” and her ability to so casually interact with her audience. This woman of La Brea is the real deal. Not only does she possess a beautiful voice, but carries herself with the grace and finesse of a queen while keeping the common touch.
The audience was primed and ready for the final performance by soca artiste and radio announcer Tony Prescott. It not only represented the icing on the cake but a journey to another point of musical ecstasy. Tony P, as he is called, performed a repertoire of soca and some back in time reggae that eventually had the entire audience dancing with joy and delight. When he performed his evergreen All Aboard, Prescott had an enthusiastic, adulating audience as his dancing chorus group.
It was truly an evening of excellence that was superbly guided by host Sue Ann Bengochea of WACK 90.1FM. Promoter Desmond Peters and his very professional team, as well as the management of Atherly’s, must be commended on a memorable event, jazz, funk, soca and steel.