WITHOUT DOUBT the talking point of the Cross Cultural Experience with the Carsten Daerr Trio and Michael Boothman and Friends, under the aegis of German Ambassador Dr Ernst Martens in the Simon Bolivar Auditorium, Venezuelan Embassy last Wednesday, was the debut of the Percussive Harmonic Instrument (PHI), the gleaming, black and white Steinway of Pan — or so the spanking new instrument appears to one who prefers classics to jazz.
The PHI (pronounced, so the website www.panadigm.com informs us, “Fie” — as in Fee Fie Fo Fum) was developed in the Steelpan Research Laboratory in UWI. The Cross Cultural Night was the new instrument’s first official outing. Readers who wish to know more about PHI can check out chapter and verse on the website.
The Cross Cultural evening began with a brief speech by German Ambassador Dr Ernst Martens. Michael Boothman and Friends then took the stage and proceeded to dazzle jazz fans with their special brand of music.
Not being someone who would willingly go without hot dinners to attend a jazz festival (in fact I make a point of avoiding Tobago in festival time) I confess I went to the Cross Cultural Event more by way of duty than pleasure.
Nevertheless Michael Boothman on guitar, Russell Durity on bass guitar, Richard Joseph on drums, the astonishing David Marcellin on piano and, of course, Aldon Moore on both tenor pan and the PHI, delighted the cognoscenti in the audience with their performances of pieces by the musicians themselves, by the classic Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck.
Following the intermission the Carsten Daerr Trio (piano, double bass and drums) played selections of their own, including “Phantom”, an eerie piece well suited for the sound track of a horror movie and then as a complete change, “Hanging Gardens”.
I’m afraid my knowledge of jazz themes stops short at “How High The Moon”, “Mood Indigo” and suchlike hoary classics so, lacking a programme that, I gather, would be infra-dig for a performance of jazz of any kind, I am unable to list most of the pieces played by either the Trini group or the German Trio — unless the leader spoke clearly and distinctly into the microphone to identify what had just been played, and what was about to be played.
Presumably, jazz lovers in the audience were well acquainted with the pieces played, all applauded as first one, then another musician played improvisations on the theme. I found the drummer in the Carsen Daerr trio so overpowering that I felt obliged to cover my ears (it was not necessary to do so with Richard Joseph who may be more familiar with the excellent acoustics of the Simon Bolivar Auditorium; the German trio only arrived in Trinidad on the afternoon of the 11th and so had little or no time to get the measure of the Auditorium).
The evening ended with Michael Boothman and Friends joining the Carsen Daerr trio on stage for a truly Cross Cultural jam session — and a standing ovation.