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Honouring Father of Jazz

Tribute concert salutes legend Ralph Davies
Published: 
Friday, June 15, 2018
Father of Jazz, Ralph Davies

The title “Father” is often bestowed upon men who have positively influenced the lives of those around them, and are thought of fondly by those they have touched. One such man is the Father of Jazz, Ralph Davies, who will be honoured during the event, A Father’s Day Tribute to Ralph Davies, on June 17.

Davies, who is 90-years-old, has been playing music for 80 years. He received tutoring in classical and jazz piano when he was growing up on Henry Street, Port-of-Spain, and went on to become a popular pianist who was frequently heard on radio in Trinidad in the 1950s, long before the introduction of television to the island in 1962.

Davies was the first musician to play at the Trinidad Hilton Hotel when it opened in the 1950s and went on to play for 16 years as an accompanist on the local shows Scouting for Talent and Rikki Tiki.

He also formed the Ralph Davies Trio and has held the stage with many local and international musical icons, including Kitchener, Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Nina Simone, Dave Brubeck, Delfeayo Marsalis, the Drifters and The Platters.

Event facilitator Ava Hutchinson said Davies has had a wonderful journey in musicianship, tutoring, mentoring, performing, accompanying and into his 90th year is very lucid in terms of the history of jazz in  Trinidad.

“He’s called the Father of Jazz,” said Hutchonson, “because he has touched so many lives, assisted so many and literally, with such humility, been a mentor for most. There’s no better day to honour T&T’s Father of Jazz than on Father’s Day, especially as he approaches his 90th birthday, having been of service to the nation for many years.”

The concert will showcase some musical giants as guest artistes, including David “Happy” Williams, and the Power Sextet, featuring Etienne Charles on trumpet, Theron Shaw on guitar, Anthony Woodroffe on saxophone, Wayne Guerra on piano, and Shaquille Noel on drums.

It will also feature tributes from many of those whom Davies has influenced, including Clive Zanda, Ray Holman, Dean Williams, Dougie Redon, Kenneth Clarke, David Boothman, Rellon Brown, Geoffrey Pataysingh, The Jazz Pickle, Gerry Banfield, “Ziggy” Hosein, Lord Relator, Lord Superior, Richard Joseph, Oluwafemi Isoke, Candace Alcantara, Ron Aqui, Roger Salloum, Anne Fridal, Juliet Robin, and Bruce Greenidge.

Proceeds of the concert will go towards the establishment of the Ralph Davies Foundation.

Hutchinson said the Foundation will have a three-pronged mandate—to preserve and promote the legacy of the spirit of the original jazz expression; to create a Bursary through fund-raising through projects and workshops; and, to enhance children’s lives through the development of their musical potential through educational initiatives.

Hutchinson said it is important that we pay tribute to our musical items because “through their vision, they are the ones who paved the way for us, in whatever genre of music, and it is important to let the ‘up and comers’ know the history whilst cherishing the impact of that. Without them, we would not be where we are now.”

A Father’s Day Tribute to Ralph Davies will take place on June 17 at the Fuzion Club, Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s, at 6 pm.

Tickets are available at Ahings Motor Oil and Accessories, Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, or Crosby’s Music Centre, 54 Western Main Road, St James.

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