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Bill Charlap & Gary Hobbs at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Steven "Cat" Coore of Third World with saxophonist Arturo Tappin at the Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival.

What if you received a last-minute invite to cover a jazz and blues festival for a jazz magazine and there’s pretty much no jazz or blues on the bill? That may sound like a Zen-like question, but there’s a simple answer: If it’s late January, the temperature’s colder than a well-digger’s ass and there’s snow everywhere, you buck up and say, “I’d love to!” (Luckily, I adore Jamaican music and have a high-tolerance for 1970s pop.)

The Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival has always catered to catholic tastes, while leaning heavily on R&B acts, but it would also present musicians who are traditionally considered mainstream jazz artists (last year that included Monty Alexander and Cassandra Wilson). This year, however, the promoters from Turn Key Productions focused almost entirely on adult-oriented pop.

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