TRELAWNY, Jamaica – Beenie Man, who closed Thursday’s opening night of the 2014 Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, Greenfield, made an entry that would probably have impressed James Bond movie producers.
Using a staircase to enter the stage, the dapper deejay, clad in black and white, had a dancing girl slowly remove his jacket before another woman appeared with a briefcase containing the microphone.
Beenie Man, who looked happy and relaxed, had a ball as his onstage entourage – dancers, backup singers and fellow entertainers Klyve and Tammi Moncrieffe – helped him to expose “The Other Side of Moses Davis,” as the performance was themed.
The audience’s curiosity quickly changed to dancing as the deejay unleashed jazz-flavored renditions of Gal Inna Bungle, Slam, Romie, and Sim Simma, along with snippets of R&B classics. There was almost pandemonium when the dancing doctor unleashed Foundation and dancer Shelly Belly raced onto the stage to add his moves to the moment.
As Beenie Man dazzled with songs from his extensive catalog, including Street Life, he lifted the tempo several notches when he did a delightful country and western segment.
In a compelling set, Chronixx left no doubt that he is poised to take his place among the icons of Jamaican music. With his Zinc Fence Band giving the songs a studio-like feel, the fans had a ball as Chronixx delivered Behind Curtain, Here Comes Trouble, Smile Jamaica, Warrior and Odd Ras.
Chronixx also used his performance to draw attention to the situation at Pinnacle, calling for greater recognition for Rastafari’s heritage, which he said needed to be protected. He also bemoaned the fact that Jamaica lacks proper entertainment venues.
Christopher Martin, who was the first of the major acts to perform, made a bold musical statement, having the audience at his command throughout his set. The dapperly dressed Martin was velvet smooth in delivering originals Cheater’s Prayer and Chill Spot, having the ladies screaming wildly when he lyrically “buss a blank fe mi mama”.
The tempo remained quite high as he delved into a series of R&B classics including Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On and Sexual Healing, which saw Martin’s vocal range coming to the fore.
Veteran show band Chalice took the audience down memory lane, doing a set which left out none of their enviable list of Jamaican classics. It was sweet reggae music at its best as the vocal skills of Dean Stephens and Wayne Armond blended perfectly, along with dazzling musicianship from the band on Good to Be There, I’m Trying, Marie, Can’t Dub and Revival Time, which had Jazz & Blues patrons singing and dancing along.