Jazz review: The silent treatment works best

St Lucia Jazz Festival

"I normally do, like, six costume changes but in this heat I ain't gonna mess with that stuff." So said soul singer Mary J Blige. Except she didn't say "mess" and she didn't say "stuff".

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.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

    £47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker