The mighty Jazz Jamaica have rightly earned their reputation as ‘one of the UK’s leading good-time bands’ (The Independent) from their many exuberant live performances and dynamic album releases over the past two decades. As the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival put it: Jazz Jamaica should be permanent ambassadors to the United Nations of Good Times.
In Autumn 2012, Gary regrouped Jazz Jamaica All Stars for a sensational roots-rock-reggae-jazz salute to the iconic Bob Marley and The Wailers paying tribute to their seminal album Catch A Fire as headliner for the new Lively Up! Festival that toured the UK from September-November 2012. He invited reggae star, Brinsley Forde and the funky strings of Urban Soul Orchestra to join him, creating a sensational 31-piece orchestral music extravaganza that had audiences up on their feet and partying the night away.
Gary also invited local gospel choirs in each city of the tour to join the band for some of the songs, reaching out so that the community could participate in and celebrate some of Jamaica’s finest music. You could really feel the heat of Catch A Fire when the choirs began to sing – it was awesome!
If ever you needed a measure of how great this show is…the Southbank Centre in London hosted the show in the 900-seat Queen Elizabeth Hall on a cold Wednesday night in October 2012 with an 85-strong Voicelab community choir. It sold out two weeks in advance! So brilliant was the show, they rebooked it for Saturday 13 July 2013, but this time in the bigger, 2,500-seat Royal Festival Hall and with a 240-voice choir!
Who knows where Gary will take his band and this music next? Wherever that may be, one thing is for sure…it’s going to be exciting!