Tribute to Boston
Monday April 15th, 2013
Two months later
For those of you who were concerned about my safety during the Boston Marathon bombings, please know that I am safe and sound. Thanks goes out to everyone who reached out to make sure I was okay. I walked along the same strip of Boylston Street by the Marathon finish line headquarters, literally minutes before the bombs exploded. Many of my friends were unharmed but witnessed the carnage as it unfolded. I didn't know it at the time, but I feel as though my inner being (conscience, source energy, instinct, whatever you want to call it) was guiding me out of harm's way without my conscious recognition of it. I was luckily at the perimeter of the finish line at Dartmouth and Boylston Streets, in Back Bay when the first explosion occurred. 10 seconds afterwards, another bomb went off in the distance. I saw smoke rising above the top of the Marathon Sports building, opposite the Boston Public Library. I was facing south on Dartmouth Street and was unable to see the finish line but I was close enough to feel and hear it as the terror happened. Once the second bomb went off, I thought to myself, this can't be good. After another 15 second of silence, I saw people turning the corner, franticly running towards me while headed in the opposite direction, telling me to RUN! My instinct told me to run with the other spectators toward the Charles River. Once I made it to Massachusetts Avenue by the river, I walked home from there. And the following Friday, portions of the Boston communities operated in a lockdown situation. Over a million Bostonian residents and students were affected. My neighbourhood of Allston, along with Cambridge and Watertown (a mile away from Allston) were considered "Lockdown communities". The public transit was suspended while Watertown and was under siege. I felt as though I was being held captive in my own apartment. All due to an ongoing manhunt for a dangerous 19 year old suspect. Finally, around 8pm; the police confirmed that had the living suspect under custody. The cheering and applause from citizens followed in the streets to show respect for the incredible work of the joint local, state and federal law enforcement task force. All over Facebook, I started seeing my friends posting pictures and video footage of fellow college students praising the Boston Police Department in the Back Bay streets for their tireless work throughout the whole week.
Thankfully, life has somewhat gone back to normal for the City of Boston, as it is a resilient town and deserves praise for the immediate positive acts of kindness displayed by regional doctors, paramedics, hospitals and spectators who gave blood and offered monetary funds to support the many victims and their families. I continue to pray for Boston, as there are four families grieving for their loved ones having passed away since that horrific day. Hundreds of others are now living with permanent scars mentally and physically as a result of this terrorist attack. I always felt safe in Boston, but the honest truth is that a catastrophe of this magnitude can happen anywhere in the world at any time. There are innocent people in the world who are currently living under violent societal conditions everyday. North Americans sometimes take for granted the liberties and resources we have compared to people in war conditions or in under developed countries. After the Boston Marathon, I believe people will begin to recognize how precious and fragile life truly is. How we should make the best of every moment in our lives, instead of procrastinating or leaving pressing intentions towards joy for tomorrow. We are living today and the present is what matters...
Please keep the City of Boston and the families affected by this tragedy in your thoughts.
There will always be a piece of me that belongs in Boston. I did a tremendous amount of growing up as an individual and human being here. The friends I've met from all across the globe and from Massachusetts have taught me so much about life and what makes us universally common, regardless of which country we came from or whatever our individual musical perspectives and influences may be. I am grateful to all my friends from the Berklee Performance Center, The Berklee Percussion Department, Berklee's Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Berklee College of Music and to the City of Boston itself.
Thank you Boston, for being my best friend, as I would run and walk along the picturesque Charles River and Esplanade routes (on a daily basis) from Allston to the North End into the Long Wharf boat port by State Street. I appreciate the experiences I had while studying in Boston. Today, I've graduated from Berklee with my degree and am now moving on with the rest of my life. I won't ever forget you Boston. Go Bruins, Pats and Red Sox!
Tuesday March 19th, 2013
Naniki Jazz Festival - Monday January 21st, 2013
Monday featured all local Bajan talent from across the island at the Naniki Amphitheatre. Barbados Calabaza Jazz Group featuring Barbadian drumming veteran Errol Bradshaw tore up Naniki Resort. HEre's an explanation of Errol's signature beat...1, 2, 3, PAX. BOOM! The PAX is a deadly staccato snap on his piccolo snare and the BOOM represents his monstrous pounding of his cymbal on beat 1 into the next measure of the music. Respectfully, it was a pleasure getting a chance to see him and his band in action. Following Errol on a beautiful Sunny Monday afternoon was another local drumming legend, Guitarist/Drummer/Vocalist Malcolm Griffith and his Quintet. They played notable Caribbean jazz classic tunes by Andy Narell, among other jazz standards. Some light rain fell a few gusts of wind past through in between Mr. Griffiths yet. Special guest was none other than the First Lady of Jazz, Miss CiCi (Celestine Duke). After the sun made its reappearance along the Bajan countryside, the final act performed. The Barbados Community College ensemble, The Barbados 1688 Nonet Featuring Stefan Walcott & Dr. Anthony Carter, also known as The Mighty Gabby. Dr. Carter is a calypsonian artist, and is Barbados' version of Bobby McFerrin, in my opinion. I was blown away by the extreme level of cultivated talented showcased on this day. Special thanks to all the musicians who performed and gave of their best to please the eager festival listeners. Also, I want to extend another thank you to Cherie Bayley, CiCi, Kerry Wendell Mason, Richard Evans, Roger Gittens & Annette Gittens, David Carnegie, Malcolm Griffith, Elna Forde and Lord Jenkins, among others for making this trip a truly unforgettable experience. Thank you!
Naniki Jazz Safari - Sunday January 20th, 2013
Sunday’s venue location was the
official grounds of the Prime Minister of Barbados, otherwise known as Ilaro
Court. Everyone in the audience came out to party or “Lime” as the Bajans
(another term for Barbadians) call it in the scorching sunny weather. My crew
(Dad, Aunt, Musician friends, etc.,) and I used umbrellas as sunray shields and
towels as royal carpets, marking our own picnic territory in front of the stage.
Catering was provided by the Barbados Community College’s Hospitality
Department and locally recognized cuisine was prepared and served.
The first act was a Jazz ensemble
from the Barbados Community College (BCC). The young musicians played crowd
favorites such as Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” and Heavy D and the Boyz’s
classic chart topper “Now That We Found Love”. It was great to see local island
talent featured for the afternoon artist lineup. While the BCC instrumentalists performed, I
had the pleasure of meeting a couple talented characters. One being a
photographer named Andrew Browne, who documented the Ilaro court festivities,
capturing the spirit and interaction of festival enthusiasts and musicians. The
other gentleman I met goes by the stage name “PassionPoet” or “Passion” for
short; it’s Bajan poet Robert Gibson. Both
Andrew and Robert are good friends, and it was nice to network with these gents
while liming in the shade of Ilaro’s branches.
Michael Ward and his New Orleans based band brought an energetic frequency and
a fat, bass heavy groove to the Court, which the audience responded to
favourably. Next up, local Barbadian superstar
saxophonist Elan Trotman performed. Trotman is now based between Boston,
Massachusetts and Los Angeles, California. Trotman is a Berklee College of
Music Alumni and has been teaching and touring for the last decade as a
freelance and solo contemporary jazz instrumentalist. Joining Trotman on electric bass was recent
Berklee alum. Alex Bailey and Berklee Assistant Professor Pianist Mark
Copeland. Guest featured in this set was Grammy Nominated Jazz Fusion
Bandleader/Producer Jeff Lorber. I’ve grown up listening to Jeff Lorber ever
since I could remember. I didn’t get a chance to meet with both Elan and Jeff
after the performance. Having said this, it was still nice to witness Mr.
Lorber in action alongside Trotman. Next
up was the final act of the evening, R&B Grammy winning recording artist
with Cee Lo Green, Canadian vocalist Miss Melanie Fiona. I ended up heading
back to the States sitting next to many of her gorgeous female back up dancers,
but Melanie was no where to be found. It would seem as though Miss Fiona got
special treatment and either left Bimshire (Barbados’ nickname) on an earlier
flight or departed on a later flight than many of her touring musicians and
dancing crew. Fiona had tones of screaming Bajan teenage fans, mouthing off
Fiona’s lyrics back to her as she performed her Top 40 hits for over an hour
and a half.
Part Three - Last segment...coming soon!
February 14th, 2013
Usually Valentine's Day is a holiday where couples have a valid excuse to intimately spoil each other with gifts and much more. But it is really a day to universally celebrate love, whatever that means to you as an individual in your own life. Love and positivity go hand in hand. Both love and positivity are on the same vibrational wavelength. So to all people, plants, animals, ecosystems and environments of the world, have a great love fest day. Maybe chocolate is on sale from the early Easter stock at Shopper's Drug Mart or CVS Pharmacy.
On to Naniki Jazz Safari (Barbados Trip)
I had a phenomenal time in Barbados. On Thursday January 17th, I had an opportunity to perform with the Lord Jenkins Quartet at the Lobster Alive Restaurant. Personnel includes Lord Jenkins on Trombone, Roger Gittens
on Piano, Damien Neblett on bass, and resident drummer Frank Glen. Special thanks to Roger and Lord Jenkins for inviting me and Frank for letting me sit in with the band for the second set.
On Friday January 18th, I had the pleasure of performing a few tunes on drums with the rhythm section personnel of the First Lady of Jazz in Barbados, CiCi. CiCi performs weekly on Friday nights at the historic Jazz venue, Waterfront Cafe in Bridgetown, Barbados. CiCi's band members include Richard Evans on bass, Kerry Wendell Mason on piano, and drummer (and pianist for a tune) David Carnegie. Special thanks goes out to Cherie Bayley, CiCi's manager, for her incredible hospitality during the whole trip and for introducing me to CiCi and the band. Thanks to David Carnegie for allowing me to temporarily perform in the drum chair. And a special shout out to The First Lady herself. CiCi, thank you for your brilliant voice, unforgettable humour and pure heart. I am honoured to have met someone as extraordinary as you and to call you, your band mates and manager my new friends.
Saturday January 19th was a day to relax and enjoy the monumental elevation of Harrison's Cave. The massive outdoor setting was the backdrop to an outstanding line up of musicians who performed on stage.
The Anise Hadeed
Collective represented the Caribbean talent for the day. Jane Bunnett and the Spirits of Havana gave Barbados a truly professional show. And the Mario Canonge Trio stole the stage with bold conviction and presence. I also happened to meet and sit next to one of Barbados' top sax players, Sir Andre Woodvine.
Monday January 14th, 2013
First Blog Post
This will be my comfortable space and place to share how I feel about life and music.
We are living in such an amazing time. YouTube has launched some of our current beloved pop cultural stars with a few duds in the mix getting their 15 minutes or seconds of fame. Apple remains to be a force to reckon with as long as the remaining visionary plans Steve Jobs left behind become reality. The 44th President of the United States Barack Obama will be sworn into his second and final term on January 20th. We are living in a world filled with opportunity and possibilities. Don't let what is unknown scare you. Delight in the joy of the present and the promise of the future. Often times, we forget to sit back, relax, allow and expect positivity to flow into our life experience. We as humans always seem to be in a rush to manifest things and money too. As we reach for our dreams (as cliche as that sounds), we need to remember to breathe and enjoy the journey along the way. So here I am, reminding you of your worthiness. You are worthy simply because you are alive. There are no limits for you or anyone to achieve whatever it is you may want or desire in this life. Prepare for what you want and trust your inner guidance to lead you to that place in time.
I was quite pleased last night to discover Adele beating Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Jon Bon Jovi at the Golden Globes for Best Original Song. Both Jon and Keith appeared gracious about Adele's win but the look on Swift's face was priceless. Whether you love her or hate her, Adele Adkins is a gifted pop singer-songwriter. She will dominate the music industry for as long as she decides to be involved in it.
This is an exciting new time for me, to be able to focus more intently on writing and creating more original material. And it doesn't need to be critiqued or marked on towards my GPA. I'm looking forward to what's coming. At Berklee, one can learn many concepts of music and endless resources are available to students. The technical, practical, networking and relationship driven sides of the music industry are unleashed to discover at Berklee. Many of these crucial relationships are formed in an environment like Berklee. My time at Berklee has been a worthwhile investment. Having said this, learning is an ongoing, evolving process. Now is my opportunity to apply what I have learned at Berklee into my career within the real world. As some teachers of mine state, "Life Is Supposed to Be Fun", so I reply with this, "Let the Games Begin!".
I want to make a shout out to my graphic designer and loving sister, Erica Gittens, for helping me assemble this remarkable website.
To my parents, I can't thank you enough for your unwavering love and support of me and my musical ambitions. To all the extended family, friends, and teachers along the way, thank you all for your support also.
To all my peers, former producers, and acquaintances, I've grown tremendously from my experiences interacting with you. I wouldn't trade anything that has happened because life unfolds for a reason and people come into your life to teach you lessons. Whether the lessons are wanted or not, they are valid and valuable regardless of the manifestation or outcome.
Trust good things are coming to you in 2013. I trust and have faith in where I am positively moving towards. Moving and grooving in real time, forward motion.