A Jazzart celebration of Ras Shorty I

A portrait of Ras Shorty I from the Heritage Series. -
A portrait of Ras Shorty I from the Heritage Series. -

A SMALL intimate group gathered at the home of Providence and Caitleen Brown in Pleasantville on February 27 for a smooth transition from the fast pace of Carnival into the soothing Lenten season.

What a treat it was for those gathered for the Jazzart for Life session to witness the ever-changing sound of jazz, infused with Latin and Caribbean spiritual and secular beats such as calypso, soca, Jamoo as well as rock, pop, funk and other genres.

Those who missed it will have a chance to experience the mood as Jazzart Celebrates the Woman on May 9.

Setting the ambiance for love and thanksgiving in the Browns' yard, under white tents and soft, colourful lights was host Providence Jerry Brown.

Flautist and pianist Providence Jerry Brown performs at the Jazzart Show held at his Pleasantville home on February 27. He is accompanied by acoustic guitarist Larry Lee Luck. - Yvonne Webb

A beatbox flautist and certified pianist with distinctions in piano theory from the Trinity School of Music, London, Jerry began his first set with acoustic guitarist Larry Lee Luck.

Jerry is a former member of the Ras Shorty I Love Circle who is most recognised for his flute playing in the classic Watch Out My Children.

He took the audience back in times mesmerising them with that memory as he performed the song with Sheldon Blackman – Ras Shorty I's (Garfield Blackman) son – backed up by his wife Caitleen.

Blackman demonstrated his vocal range as he delivered remixed mellow versions of some of his father’s gems including Om Shanti. He also belted out some of his own treasures including Water, as a purifying element, and a new release called Mama Dubway about an imaginary female stickfighter.

Jerry also alternated between the flute and the keyboard, showing his ability from beat box to spoken word and song.

Caitleen Brown, centre, with two of her guests, Mohammed Brown, left, and percussionist Tamba Gwindi.
- Yvonne Webb

Caitleen, an events planner, painter and graduate in food and beverage management, is the energy behind Jazzart by Storm Events having incorporated all the things she loves – food, art, music, spoken word – into this concept.

She recalled making her husband, whom she met 27 years before but got married only three years ago, “her product.”

Having left TT shores in 1993 for Malaysia where he further developed his musical career playing before thousands of fans, when Jerry returned home in 2012, he was virtually anonymous.

Caitleen appointed herself his manager and began hosting events to throw him back into the spotlight.

She recalled hosting events with Blackman at Stages on the Avenue and Jazzart on the Jetty at Westmoorings but not getting the size of the audience she craved.

Not one to easily give up on her dreams, “I realised, you know what, small events. No event is too small.”

She transformed their home at 129 Pleasantville Circular into a platform of expression.

“Our living room was already transformed into a school where we teach music every Saturday, so I told my husband we are going to have an event here and you are going to perform. So said, so done.”

Providence Jerry Brown, left, a former flautist with the Ras Shorty I's Love Circle and Sheldon Blackman at the Jazzart show. - Yvonne Webb

Through Facebook and WhatsApp platforms she invited friends to display their handcrafted products, local cuisine and photographic corner to capture and relive the moment.

Blackman said he was thrilled to be in this gathering to give thanks.

“You know 30 years ago Providence Brown used to play with the Love Circle. He is the original flute player to Watch out My Children.

“We have a long history. He was in Asia for many years. He came back a couple years ago and every time I come home, we do things together,” said Blackman who lives in Norway.

“This year I had a series called Carnival World Fusion he was a part of it with me – the Sheldon Blackman and Friends – sharing music and keeping the flames alive.

“He and his wife have the jazz art project going on, so we thought let’s have something in the yard, a nice thanksgiving.”

Sheldon Blackman, left, is accompanied by Providence Brown and his wife, Caitleen, as he performed his father Ras Shorty I's songs in a jazz style at Jazzart, Pleasantville Circular, San Fernando on February 27. - Yvonne Webb

In addition to working on a new album, Blackman is working on a project to celebrate the life of his father. July 12 will mark 20 years since Ras Shorty I’s death.

For the past eight years, Blackman has been hosting the Friendship Festival at the family’s ranch in Piparo just after Carnival. This year, the event took place in Tobago at Friendship Estate, from February 28-March 1. However, festival in Trinidad was moved to July 10-12.

“It is a camping festival with lots of music, art, craft and music. We really want to have a spectacular remembrance,” he said.

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"A Jazzart celebration of Ras Shorty I"

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