Jazz review: The silent treatment works best
St Lucia Jazz Festival
Friday 15 May 1998
Blige was topping the bill at the first of two big outdoor concerts that closed the festival last weekend in the beautiful setting of the old colonial fort on Pigeon Island. Her outburst seemed a reasonable statement at the time and fairly reasonably expressed, given her reputation, but the blandishments of Ms Blige - of which this was but the first - led to many St Lucians walking out, and eventually to Mary J being cautioned by the police for obscenity. At a press conference later she apologised for underestimating the differences in social manners between Brooklyn and the Caribbean, but the damage had been done and the perceived insult continues to rankle.
Despite the comedy of the situation - "American R&B Singer Swears On Stage" is hardly a news story in most parts of the world - you had to have some sympathy for the scandalised St Lucians, at least after the first oedipal noun, and Mary J should have been aware of the many children in the early evening audience.
That said, it's a good job they didn't book Queen Pen, who at Subterrania in London last week unleashed a constant stream of obscenities that the audience, er, lapped up, with the kind of serious professional approval that once used to be reserved for guitar solos.
The crime of the Argentinian saxophonist Gato Barbieri, by contrast, was to say nothing at all. St Lucians like their visiting artists to talk to them, or - in common with audiences everywhere - to at least acknowledge their existence, but Gato remained obdurately silent throughout. Tantalisingly, he would occasionally approach the microphone with an impressive air of gravitas only to end up whispering something inaudible, or at best letting slip a brief "Ole!", or "Fiesta!", but he was so good that everyone ended up loving him anyway. He also looked like an unusually degenerate incarnation of Keith Richards dressed by Hombre at C&A. In trademark Fedora hat, red bolero-waisted jacket, and lounge-lizard's shoes, Barbieri ordered his band about with an air of casual disdain while puffing out long, arabesque, sax-lines of incredible emotional density in the customary sand-blasted tone that he has made his own.
When Barbieri, who is 63 but looks 20 years younger, left Argentina for Europe in 1962, he became one of the leading avant-garde musicians of his time. When he went to America in the late-Sixties he followed Pharoah Sanders in continuing the expressive preoccupation with deep, long notes that John Coltrane had once favoured. Then he wrote and recorded the wonderful soundtrack to Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris in 1972, and went on to a long and often disappointing career as a star of jazz fusion. In performance in the Cultural Centre of St Lucia's capital, Castries, with the rain hammering down on the tin roof as he played, Barbieri provided a powerful justification for his art, however diverse, mixing Coltrane and Marvin Gaye, funk, tango and the Prozac-tempo cakewalk of Erik Sabe (his most recent enthusiasm), to glorious effect. By the end, it didn't seem to matter that he refused to talk. And not a single oedipal noun escaped his lips. Or not that we could hear, anyway.
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
newsThat most ancient of crimes is on the rise, threatening farmers' livelihoods, community trust – and human health
Life & Style blogs
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
GTA 5: Rockstar bans gamers stealing in-game money worth millions
Microsoft announces first exclusive Xbox One content: a documentary on the worst video game ever
Potential revolution in cancer treatment voted breakthrough of the year by scientists
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
£75000 - £110000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Economist or Tax profession...
£55000 - £120000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Financial Services Tran...
£60000 - £75000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: This leading independent fir...
£36000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Available Immedia...