Caribbean royalty at ‘Jazz on the Beach’

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FOR THE tenth annual Jazz On The Beach celebrations, the Mount Irvine Bay Resort will present a weekend of Caribbean royalty tomorrow and Saturday, featuring from Cuba, the multi-talented virtuoso Roberto Carlos “Cucurucho” Rodríguez Valdés, St Lucia’s famed guitarist, Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, and our very own grand jazz vocalist Vaughnette Bigford–Trinidad’s Newsday reports.

Event producer Carl “Beaver” Henderson is particularly excited with “jazz royals” he has selected for the cast.

“Cucurucho” or Cornet, as he is fondly called in the jazz world, was already specialising in piano playing as a child and participated in children’s music festivals, including the World Festival of the child.

He won awards and recognition in municipal, provincial and national piano competitions, before going on to study mid level at the “Amadeo Roldan”.

Upon graduating he joined the jazz group Mireya Escalante with which he performed at national and international festivals, and from 2000 he began working as a pianist in the orchestra of Juan Formell.

However, it was as part of Los Van Van he was nominated three times for the Latin Grammy Awards.

Together with The Musical Train Cuba, Cornet reached artistic maturity and in 2014 he was ready to start his own musical project.

During his career he has shared Cuban and foreign stages with great musicians such as Bebo Valdés, Diego El Cigala, Ruben Blades, Oscar de Leon, Jose Luis Cortes, Alexander Abreu, Olga Tanon, Juanes, Orishas, Miguel Bosé and others. After six nominations he won the award in the category of instrumental music at the festival Cubadisco 2013. The following year he joined the jury of this important event.

During passage through the aforementioned orchestras, he collaborated in the composition and musical arrangements.

Cornet is currently conducting a thorough work on traditional Cuban pianist to rescue the work of his grandfather Bebo Valdes, in order to recreate it with a more contemporary sound without losing its roots.

Ronald “Boo” Hinkson’s talent transcends cultures and sounds, bringing a fresh and innovative blend of jazz and Caribbean music.

A gifted composer, producer and heralded guitarist, Boo’s unique approach and versatility enables him to deliver a distinctive signature sound.

Raised on a diet of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, Boo’s name is synonymous with St Lucian music.

His career began with the Tru- Tones, a group he started in St Lucia, that commanded stages locally and internationally for two decades with eclectic blends of Caribbean and pop rhythms. Today, he is an exceptionally accomplished musician who has stayed true not only to his jazz roots, but also to his West Indian culture.

“Boo” couples his appreciation of the old masters, with contemporary jazz, and soca in his appearances from the Caribbean, to the US and Europe, sharing the stage with scores of musical greats including Al Jarreau, India Arie, Earl Klugh, George Benson and Grover Washington.

His music has also been showcased on the day-time television show One Life to Live, while BBC, BET Jazz, and Bravo TV have also aired his live performances.

As for Bigford, when it comes to jazz, she fits right into the groove.

It is the type of music that deeply inspires her.

She debuted on the jazz circuit at the Steelpan & Jazz Festival (2004), performing as a guest vocalist with virtuoso pannist Len “Boogsie” Sharpe. Later that year, she appeared at the San Fernando Jazz Festival, with Carlton Alexander and the Coalpot Band, and for the next two years, at the same “Sando” Jazz (2005, 2006) she performed with flugel horn player Socca Moruakgomo from Botswana.

Over the years Bigford has collaborated with some of TT ’s most celebrated jazz musicians including Theron Shaw, Ray Holman, the late Raf Robertson, and Boston-based Ron Reid. Among some of her most memorable performances are her solo act at “Sisters in Song – A Caribbean Jazz Concert” (2007) and “Jazz on the Beach” Tobago (2008). She was awarded a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music Summer Performance Programme that same year.

After that her gigs began to soar.

She performed at Jazz Artistes on the Greens, Trinidad; Lady Got Chops “Women’s Jazz Festival”, New York; Earthsound CD Release Party, Ryles Jazz Club, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; Berklee Summer Concert Series, with Ron Reid and Sunsteel, Boston; the Louis Armstrong Birthday Jazz Concert, with jazz singer Gwyn Jay Allen, New York; and the Beantown Jazz Festival, Boston, with Gabrielle Goodman and Nona Hendryx.

The full cast for the Jazz On The Beach is as follows: Tomorrow Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, Cucurucho Valdés, Vaughnette Bigford featuring Michael Low Chew Tung, and Tobago’s Cadence and Caribbean INXS Sunday Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, Cucurucho Valdés and Dean Williams featuring Llettesha Sylvester.

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