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Kathy Brown Launches Ambassador's Concert Series

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The launch, of what is intended to be a regular noontime concert series, hosted by United States Ambassador, Brenda La Grange, took place at the United States Embassy on Friday.

Dr Kathy Brown was the featured musician. In addition to being a practicing medical doctor, the multi-talented Brown plays, sings, composes and arranges music. She's also a band leader and recording artiste.

Seated at her Kurzweil K2500X keyboard half-way up the curvilinear iron stairs, she gave evidence of only some of those talents in her 45-minute concert, but the eight items she presented were quite delightful.

Security-manned iron gate

Access to the multi-functional space, part hallway, part hall, above which Brown sat, was not simple. For the specially invited guests, who were to make up Brown's audience, it involved driving through a huge, security-guard-manned iron gate on Bamboo Avenue, presenting a photo ID to a second set of guards inside the building, a detailed check of handbags and purses by the uniformed men and passing through an electronically equipped security gate, similar to those at airports. Finally, we, the guests, were escorted to our destination.

Despite the elevators on the left and offices on the right, thanks to the size of the space, we were not bothered by elevator arrivals and departures or by the office activity. The space was attractive. The cream-colored tiles sparkled in the light, and numerous potted palms decorated the periphery of the space.

Chatted pleasantly

Above all, the music was marvelous.

Brown played eight tunes and, between numbers, she chatted pleasantly, mainly to give some background to her pieces or to explain the genesis of her compositions. She started off with a bright and breezy version of the standard Autumn Leaves, a favorite of hers, she said.

Next came two linked African tunes, Yakhal'Inkomo and African Celebration, the latter being her own work. There was great variety in the pieces, which were at times slow and meditative, sometimes fast, sometimes folksy. They earned Brown long, enthusiastic applause. The musician said when she went to South Africa, she fell in love with both the choral music and the jazz of the country.

Then came Take it Easy, also Brown's, a varied composition with folk and Spanish influences. It was dramatic, in that its rhythms and breaks mimicked the call and response dialogue found in many Jamaican folk songs.

A semi-classical rendition of Marley's Jammin followed, with Brown explaining that prior to a trip to Suriname, she was asked to do that version. It took her four days.

Preparing to move into her Latin-flavored final three items - El Rumbon, El Matador and Latin Groove, Brown said she enjoyed and was influenced by the music of Colombia, Mexico, Cuba and Brazil. Latin Groove is to be found on one of her CDs, Mission A Musical Journey.

~ Michael Reckord, Gleaner Writer

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