March 6, 2008, Kingston, Jamaica
Acclaimed musician and vocalist Benjy Myaz waged war at Singers Night at Christopher's Café in the Quad on Thursday March 6, as he sought to continue a musical revolution against what he sees as imbalances that continue to exist in the Jamaican music industry. Myaz dedicated Dennis Brown's classic hit Revolution to all persons in the music industry who actively resist the trend of payola, widely claimed to be plaguing the radio sector in Jamaica.
"Revolution does not have to be about violence," said Benjy to the patrons at Christopher's. "If you are up to taking a stand against the pirates who take money to play music, sing along with me. Everybody's music must get a chance to be heard, nuh true?" as he delivered the song to an audience more than ready to sing along, "Do you know what it takes to have a revolution….?". As he stridently delivered his version of musical militancy, Myaz noted that his mission was not to chastise 'oppressors' of the music, "I don't come to bun dem, I come to sing for them and to big up those professionals who represent all musicians, from all genres, and all eras…cause music is music y'know!"
Myaz delivered intensely mixed moods with a twist of irony, providing an evening of fine melodies with his bass guitar, an instrument not traditionally known to carry the melody line within musical arrangements. It is a technique that Benjy has been experimenting with in recent years, which has resulted in his laying several tracks towards a new instrumental album project, still a work in progress, which features the bass guitar as lead instrument.
It is this technique that Benjy, a classically trained musician through the London Royal School of Music, brought to the Quad on Thursday night, making his machines sing, equally as sweetly as he did. Each time the bass player started a refrain on his instrument, he mirror the melody vocally "Bibibibibipbibip…..tuduptudup", as he took his ready audience on a musical journey through the jazz genre in the first segment. Three sets, each planned for forty-five minutes, overran the schedule by a total of over an hour, as patrons repeatedly asked for more.
Benjy was backed by a fine cadre of musicians including the experienced wizardry of pianist Alex Martin on the 'baby grande' piano, supported by the younger keyboard player Andrew Young. Benjy, who switched between bass, bass as lead and acoustic guitar when he was not delivering vocals only, masterfully led on strings. The string section was completed with rhythm guitarist, Howard 'Stretch' Dalhouse and Isiah Palmer on bass. Bassist, Lyndon Webb also delivered his sultry style during the musical set. Christopher Tyrell stylishly kept time on drums and the horns section included trumpeter, Everol Wray and a trombonist who doubled as percussionist, Carron McGibbon, home from a recent stint in France.
The musicians moved deftly through musical pieces, changing genres and tempos, but always keeping a steady 'vibe'. In the first segment, they were led through the musical paces through songs including I've Got Sunshine, Concrete Jungle, and Love Will Find a Way, by the stickler for musical detail, Benjy, who, himself has mastered seven instruments including the tuba. Subtle nuance was present throughout the musical evening as the detail of the arrangements emerged as layers within the powerful musical sounds. The band worked well, displaying great energy and synergy. Each musician was also given room by Myaz to explore his individual musical latitude through multiple solos interspersed in the performance. Each set within the performance was a clear demonstration of the exacting musical precision demanded from the feature performer, Benjy.
Benjy's fingers moved deftly over the strings of his bass guitar and then he handled with great care his newest acquisition, a small semi acoustic guitar. "Fus time mi a use it, mi jus get it, de instrument bad!" he told the audience. It was this guitar that Myaz loaned to guest vocalist Charmaine Lemonious in his second set, as he took bass in hand to join the accompaniment as she sang in Spanish Eres Tu.
Benjy Myaz followed up on Charmaine's performance with a suite of originals and covers taken from his albums Time Together, Intimate Relationship and Long Story Short. The crowd inside Christopher's Café rocked, shouted and whistled as he delivered a seamless medley in his well-known, smooth Lover's Rock styling of the songs Do for Love, Time, Lover's Paradise and Intimate Relationship among others.
The third segment of the evening began with Benjy's hit song, a cover of Randy Crawford's Love You Higher. Well past the 11 o'clock scheduled end of showtime, a major 'jam session' ensued, as musicians including drummer, Derron 'Romeo' Simmonds, Lamont 'Monty' Savory of the C Sharp Band; Trumpeter, Vivian Scott, vocalist Rance Chambers and keyboard player Paul 'Wrong Move' Crosdale joined the bandstand; rocking the crowd with Reggae classics, predominantly featuring Dennis Brown.
By the end of the evening four guitarists played in harmony on the bandstand. Ladies swooned and sat transfixed as Myaz performed the title track of his third album Long Story Short. The richness of the sound earned the musician and vocalist an encore in which he thrilled the audience further with his own One Sunshine and Bob Marley's Concrete Jungle, leaving the audience in frenzy.
Singers night is held at Christopher's Café every Thursday night, is produced by Griot Music Limited in an effort to sustain the tradition of fine live music in Kingston.