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Zorn’s Prickly Harmony

Ellis Marsalis

In some real sense, the art of maintaining and growing a jazz festival has to do with the ongoing calibration of site and sound. No one can say that the site is less than remarkable in the case of the Barbados Jazz Festival, which celebrated its 12th annual festival this year from January 10 to 16. This inspiring island, the most easterly of the Caribbean islands and one of the most soulful in the region, has jazz spirit written all over it.

The musical element and philosophy of the festival is still under construction, but the festival, founded and guided by the charismatic director Gilbert Rowe, is doing something very right in the process of balancing artistic and commercial factors. In the past, the festival has been criticized for deigning to include smooth jazz and R&B or other nonjazz acts. Cooler heads must prevail, though, and recognize that there’s a way to satisfy an array of customers (and potential customers).

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