1688 Orchestra – “Bajan Jazz Routes Vol.1”


1688 Orchestra - "Bajan Jazz Routes Vol.1"Bajan Jazz Routes Vol.1, the debut EP by the 1688 Orchestra, is an example of why I enthusiastically pour over the new release listings and give everything a listen.  A big band that utilizes steel pans as part of its mix of Jazz and Caribbean music, the 1688 Collective is the vision of Stefan Wolcott, who wanted to provide a platform for both professional musicians and students alike to collaborate and develop.  The Collective consists of different ensembles, with the full orchestra presented on this recording.

This is music that comes right out swinging, with the shimmering electricity of pans meshing with punchy cadences and the boisterous attitude of a platoon of wind instruments and a rhythm section with a driven determination.  The array of pans is the most compelling aspect of this recording, especially in how their unique expressions are able to differentiate themselves while still interacting as simply another facet of a standard big band presentation.  Adding to the intrigue is the way in which the resonant warmth of the pans pair with a violin solo on “For Very,” illustrating yet another captivating aspect of this ensemble’s sound.

But this isn’t some sort of novelty.  The ensemble’s buoyant demeanor, shouting out melodies while riding the waves of fluid grooves possesses an enthusiasm that is undeniably catchy and abounding with personality… the kind of energy that is so easy to embrace and the kind of music that is 100% fun.  I’m absolutely thrilled to have stumbled upon this recording.

Your album personnel:  Stefan Wolcott (double seconds pan, percussion, artistic director), Shawn Layne, Kevin Moore, Erin Hazelwood, Kweku Jelani, Kevyn Lynch (trumpets), Jomo Slusher, Matthew Squires (trombones), Romaro Greaves, Joseph Callender, Gary Goodrige (alto saxophones), Nicholas Timothy, Davian Alleyne, Shawn Yarde (tenor saxophones), Jerome Clarke, Huge Griffith (baritone saxophones), Rosson Wiltshire (pans), Dwain Gill (tenor pan, violin), Andre Forde (guitar pan, tenor pan), Jason Morris (tenor pan), Mark Forde (double tenor, tenor pan), Maria Beckles (double seconds pan), Petra Welch, Farakhan Stephens (drums), David Haynes, Richard Evans (bass), and Richard “Salief” Smith (percussion).

The album is Self-Produced.

Jazz from the Barbados scene.

Available at:  eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon MP3

The Collective also appears to be involved in social activities, mostly centered around working with youth through the arts.  It seems like most retailers have the digital album download set between four and five bucks.  Go and buy yourself some fun music and support a worthwhile organization in the process.

Here again is a link to their Facebook page, which documents both their music and outreach.