Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari promises authentic jazz music


Founder of the newest jazz festival to take place here, Tom Hinds, said his event will be true to its name and provide its audience with authentic jazz music, as Kyle Christian reports in this article for Antigua’s Observer.

“We are offering certainly jazz as opposed to what is being offered up by the other festivals in the Caribbean where, if you get 10 per cent jazz in a jazz festival, you are lucky,” Hinds said. “It is something that I certainly will not be compromising.”

The second leg of the Naniki Caribbean Jazz Safari will take place in Antigua in March. Hinds, the festival’s executive producer, said Antigua was chosen because there is no Jazz festival here.

“There is an absence of a Jazz festival in Antigua and actually, if you look, we are in St Vincent where there is also that void,” he said. “We also have Grenada, so we chose the islands without festivals to offer the opportunity.”

The Naniki Safari, which gets its name from an Arawak word meaning “full of life,” is a travelling event, which moves from country to country in keeping with a safari experience. The first leg was held in Barbados in January and will continue in St Vincent and Grenada after the Antigua leg.

“I have high expectations. I think the musical offering alone will bring people out to be part of this,” Hinds said. “It’s almost like a piece of history because of the focus that we’ve taken.”

When asked if he was concerned about competition from other, better known Caribbean Jazz festivals, the executive producer said Naniki is offering a different kind of programme.

Hinds also noted that it was no coincidence that most of the performers had roots in the Caribbean, saying that he specifically sought them out.

“That is part of my thinking of trying to establish and bring home those Caribbean artistes who either live in the Caribbean or in the Diaspora,” he said. “There are quite a number of them and they are all happy to come and be a part of it.”

On Friday March 1, at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre, Archie Alleyne, who is of Antiguan parentage, along with his band Kollage, from Canada, will perform.

The second act that night will be the Danny Mixon Quartet and Denise Thimes, who Hinds described as a “wonderful vocalist.”

“Danny is high energy, a wonderful piano player and a bit of a showman as well,” Hinds added.

The next day, Saturday March 2, the Safari will move to Shirley Heights Look Out, which Hinds said is the venue he is most excited about because of its sheer beauty.

“It is in keeping with the whole safari theme,” he said. “It is in keeping with offering not only quality music but quality spaces in which that music can be performed.”

Derek McKeith, Cameron Pierre (Dominican roots), and the Happy Lewis Project, an Antigua/Guadeloupe collaboration, will be the acts for night two.

The executive producer said the festival is hoping to attract patronage from tourists, a number of which will be in Antigua at that time, as well as local jazz enthusiasts.

“There is a community in Antigua that follows jazz, certainly from what I can remember going back 30 years,” he said. “I am sure that there is still a growing appreciation for the music and we want to find a way to bring the young people out.”

Minister of Tourism John Maginley was on hand for the festival opening at the Jolly Beach Resort on Thursday evening. He reiterated the tourism ministry and tourism authority support for such programmes.

“This is something that we would like to make a permanent event on our schedule,” he said.

“I understand how difficult it is to put on events but more so to make them sustainable. With our small community, with limited number of sponsors, it is very difficult to make an event that we can put on the calendar and to sustain it at a level that all of us will be proud of.”

Entrance to the festival costs US $25.

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