with Marshall Vente & Tropicale
Click the above buttons for more information about the various groups, ensembles and projects that Marshall Vente is involved with.
Discover Magazine, St Maarten
Steel Pan: the last drum
Music, voice of a speech
Musical producetion in the Caribbean is the main element of the artisitic creativity here. Based on the African atavism where, according to the Edouart Glissant's words, "drums are a monologue." Music is simply a component of the historical and daily existence of a population by its rhythm, dance and song. Its musicians are nmuerous in the spontaneous "verbality". They learn music, as one learns the techniques of wiring or painting. Negro Music is the voice of black people. It moves and vibrates. In the perpetual evolution it does not fit into the category of local tradition. The prestigious history of Jazz in North America proves it: Gospel songs, Blues, New Orleans, be-bop groups, free jazz.
Various Music styles: Biguine and Gros-KA, Zouc, Salasa, Rmba and Socca. Ska, Reggae, Calypso, Merengue and Bachata were born in thsi muti-cultural and linguistic crossroads of the Caribbean islands. Guadeloupe, Martinique and Creole and French-speaking Haiti. Cuba and Spanish-speaking Saint Domingo. Jamaica and English-speaking Trinidad. Most of these rhythms are known throughout the world. Every melody has words to accompany it, pay attention to the lyrics of the songs, just as important as the rhythms.
Chester York: the peaceful vulcan
Chester York was born in October, 1944 in a small village looking over the salt marshes to the north-east of Philipsburg. During these years in Trinidad, Winston "Spree" Simon and Ellie Manette made thier first steel pans. Young Chester in the company of his neighborhood, Joseph Carty born in Anguilla had to wait until 1957 to listen and see for the first time this instrment being played. They formed th group "The Jungle Sparrows". Chester became the most popular blacksmith of the island. This sweet and generous man does not forge weapons, shields or helmets. Peaceful vulcan makes steel pans. Like the Fid Pan, he has many childres. All joined the musical Pantheon of the family. Two of them became by vocation profressional musicians. Isidore, better known by the nickname "MightyDow' founded the Ebony Steel Band and a school for young musicians. A singer of Calypso, Socca and Rumba he has produced about ten Cd's. Neville York is a compollse5r and a virtuoso musician, having spent six years of intense studies attending the Northern Illinois University (USA). He has produced two CD's. "Sweet Salt" in 1997 and "Jazz Flamboyant" in 2001 which has put him on the raod to success.
Like a bottle in the sea
In November of 1989. Discover publishes iths fourth edition: 152 pages. On the cover is a cockerel with a red crest. In the contents of the magazine are articles on cock fights, painter of the island, jistoric archives and ...a piece about the steel pan written by Neville York. In this issue, Discover produced a small 33 RPM red plastic disc, the interpretation of Dutch Saint Matins national anthem "o sweet St Martin Land" by the steel band "Pott Steelers".
March 1990. A large cruise ship makes a stopover in Philipsburg. Amoungst the passengers, on board there is someone who is working. The shopping in town does not interest him. He wants to discover something else on the this short stopover. Going through our magazine he sees Neville York's article. He hails a taxi and asks if anyone can find this Neville York. "Pani Problem" (no problem), the driver knows about the rhythm of the island. "Get in, I'll drive you there". Just like the "Freindly Island" of past times when everybody knew everybody. Marshall Vente slides his large frame into the car. He strums his fingers of his right hand on the seat, tapping in time his left foot to the beat, whilst whistling a tropical rhythm. He is happy, this conductor for cruisers, to take the rural toads on an endeavor to track down this God of Pan. This is a veritable voyage, a sacred bottle in the sea, a beautiful and great discovery not the usual tourist attraction without any signifgicant surprises. Simply a profound human to human contact, an exchange between two artsts, The two mucicans get on well together right away. Marshall Vente has idas. Every year he badgers Neville: "We have to do something together". That is how Neville Yorks' first CD was Born. "Sweet Salt". It was recorded with the musicans of Marhsall Ventes Tropical Orchestra in St Martin and the United States.
The Anguilla Guide February 2004
Come March 14 and 15, 2003, Anguillians, visitors and other persons will be entertained for the third official season at the Anguilla Jazz Festival now being promoted and managed by Valentin Davis and his long-time friend and world top-rated steel pan player, St. Martener Neville York.
They are coming together again at spring time to bring the entertainment to Anguilla, this time at two venues on the moonlit beach. The festival, titled “The Long and Short of Jazz,” will open on Friday March 14 at 8.30 p.m. at the beach stage in front of the imposing Shoal Bay Beach Hotel on the northern coast of the island. The second presentation the following evening will be the customary live jazz ensemble at the pool side surrounding the Ocean Terrasse Restaurant at the prestigious Frangipani Beach Club at Meads Bay. This main stage will open at 9.00 o’clock following a four-course dinner.
Mr. Davis is the General Manager of Frangipani Beach Club and has a keen interest and delight in jazz. His involvement in and presentation of the Anguilla Jazz Festival has created a welcome attraction to visitors and Anguillians at this time of the year. He should be commended for his excellent work in the area of entertainment, hospitality and community involvement. Over the past years he has made contributions from the proceeds of parties and jazz functions at the hotel to several worthy causes including the Murray Ballin Scholarship Foundation, the Anguilla Community Foundation and the Bethel Methodist Pre-school playground. He is now actively engaged as President of the West End School Development Committee which is raising funds for the construction of a community auditorium as part of the ongoing school project.
The entertainment he is bringing again to Anguilla this year is expected to provide a treat for many lovers of jazz and the associated show performances that will be taking place. It was his effort to “give the people what they want” that saw the beginning of the Anguilla Jazz Festival in March 2001 and now the continuation in March 2003.
Neville York, a graduate of Northern Illinois University, performs with symphony orchestras in Holland and Europe and engages Marshall Vente’s Tropicale as his band. Over the past seven years he has performed with Marshall in Chicago and St. Maarten. Monty Alexander, a world-renowned jazz pianist, commented on York’s work as follows:
“Neville York gives us a collection of pieces that finely demonstrates his marvelous versatility and taste. Sweet Salt is a wonderful reminder that the steel pan is a truly incredible musical innovation. When it is in the hands of an artist such as Neville York, it is no less a vehicle for the expression of virtuosity than other so called ‘legitimate’ musical instruments. His interpretations of classical favourites as well as the pieces that reflect Caribbean moods – all add up to make a unique and enjoyable collection.”
The “Long and Short of Jazz” as the Anguilla Jazz Festival is called this year, is borrowed from an album by Eldee Young and Marshall Vente. Young is an international entertainer, vocalist and bassist and an original member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio and co-founder of Young-Holt Unlimited. Vente hails from Chicago and is regarded as one of the best jazz pianists in that city. The CD derived its title from the fact that Vente is so much taller than Young.
Marshall Vente is no stranger to Anguilla, having previously performed on the island with his Jazz Tropicale Band which received much applause for its excellent performance.“The Long and Short of Jazz” is an event which must not be missed at Shoal Bay (North) and at Frangipani Beach Club on March 14 and 15 respectively.
The Anguilla Guide February 2004
The 3rd Annual Jazz Festival held at Shoal Bay Beach on March 14 and at Frangipani Beach Resort on March 15 was attended by a large number of visitors, Anguillians and other residents. The weekend functions provided two evenings of well-appreciated and enjoyable entertainment which attracted tourists from various hotels on the island, many of whom are fans of jazz music at its best.
The entertainment was promoted and presented by Valentin Davis, Manager of Frangipani Beach Resort, along with his long-time friend and steel pan classical player, Neville York of St. Maarten.
The Jazz Festival dinner at Frangipani's Ocean Terrace restaurant was not only a time for good dining, at the fully-occupied tables, but also an occasion for much enjoyment and relaxation provided by the keyboard music of Marshall Vente and soloist Eldee Young on the double base. Vente is the bandleader of Jazz Tropicale, a Chicago-based ensemble comprising a group of Latin American musicians.
Young is co-founder of Young-Holt Unlimited and a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio. He has performed with a number of top musicians in the United States.
The main concert performance was at the resort's poolside where stage performers included Marshall Vente, Neville York, Howard Levy, (a world-renowned harmonica player) and Eldee Young.
The powerful singing and bits of humour by Barbara Walker added much delight to the concert. She is known as the "Queen of Soulful Jazz" in the United States and elsewhere. Her performance and that of the other performers in the Jazz Festival drew much applause from the large and appreciative audience.
Meanwhile, an impressive art exhibition featuring the paintings of St. Maarten's artist Roland Richardson opened at Frangipani Beach Club on Sunday March 16 and will continue until April 15.
Eldee Young & Marshall Vente ,” The Long and the Short of Jazz “ :-) , whatever way around it is mentioned, when those Two ” Step up to the Mic “ , then you are listening and enjoying a “Tall walking Team” with great variety and craftsmenship in Jazz, no wonder that also the joyfull steeljazz of Neville York with the Spirit of the Carribean, fits in perfectly and makes their companionship really a “Jazz Flamboyant”!!
Joost van Steen, Host / Producer Jazz & Blues Tour
"Neville York gives us a collection of pieces that finely demonstrates his marvelous versatility and taste.
"Sweet Salt" is a wonderful reminder that the Steel Pan is a truly incredible musical innovation - and when it is in the hands of an artist such as Neville York, it is no less a vehicle for the expression of virtuosity than other so called "legitimate" msuical instruments.
His interpretations of classical favorites as well as the pieces that reflect Caribbean moods - all add up to make a unique and enjoyable collection."
-Monty Alexander, World renowned Jazz Pianist
The steel pan doesn't turn up often in jazz, for several good reasons. Its shimmery, floating timbre - you might even call it eerie - mixes uncomfortably with the focused tones of horns and piano. And technique presents even bigger problems: Since a pan lacks the sustain of a piano or vibraphone, the player has to execute a single note trill (like a gentle drum roll) just to keep any one pitch sounding for more than a fraction of a second - which makes it more difficult to achieve the elaborate melodicism that most postbop jazz demands. In addition, the small blunt sticks used to play the pan (as opposed to the tapered, balanced mallets for such distant cousins as marimba and vibes) must be handled with a restraint that's often at odds with full-blown jamming. Neville York, a native of Saint Martin and one of only a handful of pan players able to improvise expertly - fellow Caribbean islander Othello Molineaux and New Yorker Andy Narell pretty much complete this rarefied fraternity - has released just two albums, each an eclectic mix of jazz, pop, and island rhythms. But working with Chicago pianist Marshall Vente, he engages the jazz aesthetic much more thoroughly. Though York is no stranger to the States - he spent seven years in De Kalb, earning two degrees at Northern Illinois University - he didn't meet Vente until after he'd returned to Saint Martin. In the eight years since, the two have forged a solid bond; Vente has made several trips back specifically to work with York, and has brought him to Chicago more than once already. York appears with Vente's Brazilian and Cuban-flavored band, Tropicale, as part of an "all-tropicale" Friday night at the ninth annual Marshall Vente Jazz Festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday; the evening also features Brazilian band A Cor do Brasil and wraps up with a Latin-Brazilian jazz jam, patterned after a Cuban descarga. On Saturday and Sunday the festival offers sets starring puissant tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, the delightful Redd Holt Unlimited, veteran pianist Bob Acri, and Vente's most famous ensemble, Project 9. Friday, January 18, 8:30 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand;312-670-2473.
~ Neil Tesser