A safe ride down memory lane

Above: Edward Cumberbatch, Raymond Edwards and Nigel Floyd of QED TT during their June 3 concert at Queen’s Hall, Port-of-Spain.

Photo courtesy Don’t Sleep T&T Photography

A review of QED TT’s concert Down Memory Lane – Remixing the Jam by Franka Philip
One’s an attorney, the other a broadcaster and the third is a scientist.
Can you imagine the conversations, debates and arguments when Nigel Floyd, Raymond Edwards and Eddie Cumberbatch get together? Diverse backgrounds aside, the one thing they have in common is that they’re all highly accomplished tenors. The three make up the trio QED TT and at their June 3 concert, Down Memory Lane, they delighted a Queen’s Hall audience who sang along to all the songs, especially the old school classics.

For this, the third edition of the concert, they chose the theme Remixing the Jam and took the audience on an 85-minute tour that included the genres of gospel, soul, reggae, bhangra, soca and calypso.

But before we talk about the singing – which was top notch as expected – let’s talk about the band Junction Q Jammers under the musical direction of Tony Paul.
The band was tight and together. It was a joy to look at the brass section where most of the action was taking place. Led by Paul on sax and flute, the lively section of Barry Homer (trumpet), Demetrius Fraser (trumpet), Martina Chow (alto sax & flute) and Kensa James (trombone) were clearly having lots of fun playing, grooving and singing along.

It was from the brass section that Martina Chow joined the three tenors to sing Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry Bout A Thing. Later in the show, Kensa James and her trombone took centrestage to sing Anita Baker’s Sweet Love. Sweet Love is an anthem that has embarrassed many a singer who failed to hit the high notes. James nailed those notes and got the audience laughing as she sang “No sweeter love, no sweeter love” to her beloved trombone.

Kensa James sings to her trombone

Nigel Floyd, left, is amused as Kensa James sings to her trombone during her rendition of Sweet Love. Photo courtesy Don’t Sleep T&T Photography

Junction Q Jammers is a great ad for this country’s depth of musical talent, and not just the older musicians, but a good crop of young talents as well. The rest of this competent group comprises of Dean Williams (guitar), Natasha Joseph (steelpan), Richard Joseph (drums), Jill-Ann Walters-Morris (keys), Jeremy Macintosh (bass) and Sheena Richardson (percussion).

This well-crafted 85-minute tour around the music world encompassed an eclectic range of songs that included A Song for You (Leon Russell), My First, My Last, My Everything (Barry White), Fantasy (Earth, Wind & Fire), What You Won’t Do For Love (Bobby Caldwell), Skankin Sweet (Chronixx), Three Little Birds (Bob Marley), Steelband Clash (Blakie), Gur Nalo Ishq Mita (Malkit Singh) and this year’s hottest soca hit, Hello (Kes the Band).

The singing from Cumberbatch, Edwards and Floyd is impeccable. Cumberbatch has been T&T’s foremost tenor for a number of years. A staple of the Lydians, Cumberbatch benefitted greatly under the directorship of the late founder Pat Bishop. His experience with the Lydian Singers has been invaluable to him as he further progressed to perform as a tenor soloist in many choral works and tenor roles in several operas.
Edwards is a popular voice both on radio and as a singer. He was trained by the late Chesterton Ali and has been a force to reckon with at the National Music Festival. He is a host on Sweet 100FM and his show Sweet Sunday Love is one of the most listened to on a Sunday. Attorney Nigel Floyd has been a key member of the Marionettes for several years and is known as the rock of QED.

Overall, Remixing The Jam gets a thumbs up. The talent is exceptional, the show is tight and professional and it’s a great evening out for music fans of different ages. The thing about QEDTT is that they are a pretty safe bet but I’d like to see them push the envelope a bit more. It’s not a criticism, just an acknowledgement that they’ve got a lot more in them as performers. Maybe some more radical arrangements of the songs or guests who are somewhat out of the box?

If there is a minor criticism of Remixing the Jam, it is that more movement was needed onstage. Cumberbatch, Edwards and Floyd occupy centre stage on their stools for the entire show and it would have been more compelling with maybe a couple of dancers and good choreography to help break the feeling of sameness for the viewing audience.

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