From May 17 – 25, students from the Jazz Studies Program at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, USA immersed in Dominican culture, music and Caribbean living. Create Caribbean Research Institute had the honour of partnering with WMU’s band Mas Que Nada (MQN) as part of the Jazz and Creole Exchange Program, which culminated in the band’s performance at one of Dominica’s major festivals, Jazz n’ Creole, on Sunday May, 24.
Members of the band got to experience first-hand the traditional musical sounds of Dominica, with Jing Ping tutorials (including dance lessons) provided by the Flamboyant Cultural Group of Dublanc, and later learned African drumming techniques from cultural practitioners, RasMo Moses and Gregory Rabess. MQN also got to attend some of the fringe events of the Jazz n’ Creole week, including a film screening of the 2004 production of Martinique, Biguine, which tells the story of the blending of African/Creole folk and traditional French musical sounds during the late 19th Century.
Mas Que Nada invested in true academic exchange by providing performance workshops to high school students and other organized bands in classical and jazz techniques. In attendance over the two days of workshops were students from Convent High School, Isaiah Thomas Secondary School, St. Mary’s Academy, Dominica Cadet Corps Band, Music Lovers Government Band and Marie School of Music. Students of the Dominica Institute of Fine Arts were also treated to an opening performance by the band at their end-of-year ceremony.
Besides the academic and performance aspects of their trip, band members got an opportunity to luxuriate in Dominica’s natural beauty, with visits to Trafalgar Falls, Titou Gorge, Scotts Head, Champagne snorkelling, Botanic Gardens, and of course, the Cabrits National Park where they opened the main stage Jazz n Creole event on Sunday, May 24.
Create Caribbean Inc. would like to thank all of its sponsors and partners in making the trip a success:
- Discover Dominica Authority
- Division of Culture
- Youth Development Division
- Flamboyant Cultural Group
- Chez Ophelia
- St. Aimee’s Guest House
- Banana Tree Bar and Grill
- Sheppee’s Tours