Walter Elmore, president of Turn-Key Productions, who produces the annual Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, believes in helping spur the growth of young musicians. In 2006, Elmore used the annual Festival to launch the first “Art of Music Workshop,” to help mold young, Jamaican musicians.
The workshop was created because organizers recognize the importance of hands-on training and first-hand knowledge that students can develop by direct contact with established professionals, said the executive producer of the Festival recently.
“It really is a unique opportunity for these young performers, as it promotes cultural and educational opportunities for musically talented youth and aspiring musicians in Jamaica that they would not normally have access to” said Elmore, who has been involved with the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival since it’s inception in 1996. He also revealed plans to establish a scholarship for young musicians.
The inaugural workshop was hosted on January 26, 2006 at the Half Moon Shopping Village in Montego Bay, Jamaica and featured industry professionals like Reinaldo Monroig, Jose Hernandez, Lukes Morgan, Lyfe Jennings, and Nestor Torres, sharing their knowledge and experience with the aspiring musicians on topics that ranged from access to international promoters, radio stations in the US, and industry professionals.
Those benefiting from the workshop included the PACE Band, one of the few young bands that won an island wide audition for a chance to perform on the Ocean Spray Stage for the thousands who attended the festival. The Ocean Spray Stage features upcoming bands and is located near the food court at the Festival. Other attendees included students from the School of Music, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, and aspiring musicians.
This year, in October, 2006, Elmore launched the JazzFest Quest to find the best undiscovered jazz, blues, Latin, and reggae musicians across the U.S., in New York, Atlanta, Baltimore and South Florida. The best acts, like J.D. Smooth, Peter Humphrey and the Oasis Band and Jacky & Strings won an all-expenses paid trip to perform live in Montego Bay, Jamaica and a chance to be discovered.
The annual Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival enters its 10th year next January and will take place at the Aqueduct at Rose Hall, from Jan. 23-27, 2007. Five Day Festival ticket packages are just $250, and are available through your favorite travel agent or Air Jamaica Vacations at 1-800-LOVEBIRD
Other top performers on the bill to date include, Earth Wind & Fire, Kenny Rogers, Michael Bolton, Christopher Cross, Roy Ayers, Chuck Mangione, Pieces of a Dream and ABBA:The Tribute, Robert Cray, Monty Alexander, NEWA, and Anthony Hamilton as well as “the Art of Reggae” featuring reggae all-stars Freddie McGregor, Wayne Wonder, Sanchez, and Shaggy.
Meanwhile, all U.S. fans are urged by Jazz Fest officials to secure their U.S. passport or certify that the passport of their foreign country is valid before traveling to the Festival next year. The call comes as the countdown to the US’ Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative or ‘passport rule,’ begins ahead of the extended January 23, 2007 deadline, which will require all air travelers to present a passport to re-enter the United States. U.S. passports may be obtained through the U.S. Postal Service while Caribbean and other green card holder can obtain passports from their local consulates. U.S. passport fee are $67 plus an execution fee of $30 and a photo fee of $15. Fees for children under age 16 are $52 plus the additional photo and execution fees.
Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival is a Turn Key Productions event and has been running continuously for the past ten years. It began in October 1996 on the lawns of the Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay, with some 3,000 persons but now caters to some 40,000 music fans. International acts that have been featured over the past decade include John Legend, Bo Diddley, George Benson, Air Supply, Patti Labelle, Al Jarreau, Alicia Keys, Kenny Rogers, Mary J Blige, James Ingram and Nancy Wilson. This year it moves to a new venue – the Aqueduct at Rose Hall- on the beach side of the Rose Hall main road, near the Rose Hall Resort.
2007 Festival sponsors include Air Jamaica, The Jamaica Tourist Board, American Express, Digicel, Caribbean Producers, and Ocean Spray. For JazzFest vacation packages call Air Jamaica Vacations at 1-800-LOVEBIRD