The closing night of the annual event, Saturday, belonged to the stars, and not even the nagging rain that pelted on TurnKey Production’s parade could extinguish the blazing inferno that Riley, Cole, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock and the 22-year-old Irish born Izibor used to warm a night that could otherwise have been extremely chilly.
After three nights of the ‘Art of Music’, the question of who was the best, is a toss-up between the sophisticated, elegant class act who goes by the name Natalie Cole and Jamaica’s very own, Tarrus Riley.
Dazzling the audience in an exquisite dress, Cole, sparkled and so did the diamond microphone that she held in her hand.
Having lost a lot of weight, Cole looked like jazz legend Nat King Cole’s little girl, but when she opened her larynx, she brought out the woman.
This was no child act, “This is Prime Plus,” shouted university lecturer and Sunday Gleaner columnist Carolyn Cooper. Yes, Natalie Cole has upstaged Prime Time, and showed herself to be among the artistes of this world capable of bringing audiences to their knees.
“I like when you sing with me,” she told the thousands that stood on the greens at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, waiting to hear her belt the Grammy Award-winning ‘Record of the Year’, Unforgettable, and this she did, but not before flirting her prowess through the words of I Miss You Like Crazy, the uptempo Mr Melody and the anthem Inseparable.
By the time Cole reached that juncture in her performance, she could easily have ended there, but she didn’t. The star performer continued, unwilling to short-change her clients.
When she did leave the stage, the hungry audience begged for more.
Natalie Cole’s performance heralded Riley, who again proved his mettle and showed the reason he was in demand.
It has become natural for Riley to commence a party, no matter who goes before him. Once he hit the stage, he has the capability of erasing his predecessors, and he could have done that had Laura Izibor not been so good.
The She’s Royal star had an energy that travelled from the stage all the way through the skyboxes to the back of the stadium, and he ignited a fire that did not deserve to be cooled.
The hit-making duo Air Supply, who made history at the festival by appearing onstage after 3:15 a.m., said, “The last time we came on a stage 1:30 a.m. was in Cuba years ago, so we have made history here in Jamaica tonight.”
Opening what was to become a masterful performance, Graham and Hitchcock opened with Even the Nights are Better and, in truth, there was hardly anyone or anything better than these two, except, of course, for Riley and Cole.
Captivating the audience with Just as I am and Here I am, the two commandeered the crowd to play choir duties.
Providing oxygen, specially manufactured by them, Air Supply ended the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival on a an extremely high note.
Others who performed on Saturday’s final night included the high-energy Silver Bird Steel Orchestra, that panned out the tones of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, Black-Eyed Peas’, I Gotta Feeling, Gyptians Hold Yuh and Beenie Man’s Rum and Red Bull.
The steel band delivered a stirring performance which arrested the attention and emotions of patrons in the venue, while the group Committed wasn’t about to allow the rain to spoil Jazz and Blues 2011.