U.S. Embassy hosts the Brent Birckhead Quartet in an Encore Tour of the Eastern Caribbean

The U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS is pleased to host the Brent Birckhead Quartet in an encore tour. This talented jazz quartet is playing to enthusiastic crowds in St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, after having completed a successful tour of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, and Dominica earlier this year.

The quartet’s first stop on the current tour was in St. Kitts and Nevis on September 17, where they performed during a free public concert at the St. Kitts Marriott Beach Resort. The U.S. Embassy presented the quartet in this series of public concerts to underscore the excellence and diversity of American music. Distinguished guests included the Attorney General Vincent Byron.

The four award-winning Americans in the quartet are saxophonist Brent Birckhead, pianist Mark Meadows, percussionist Carroll Dashiell III, and bassist Romeir Mendez. The ensemble thrilled their St. Kitts and Nevis audience with a program of jazz standards and original compositions.

In opening the quartet’s concert that evening, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS Larry Palmer first congratulated St. Kitts and Nevis on the eve of their 32nd anniversary of independence. He also remarked, “As the State Department marks the 75th anniversary of implementing international exchanges, the U.S. Embassy renews its commitment to using cultural exchanges to cement strong and sustainable linkages between our nations.  President Barack Obama once said, ‘Music can tell a story, assuage our sorrows, provide blessing and redemption, and express a soul’s sublime and powerful beauty.  It inspires us daily, giving voice to the human spirit.  Music unites individuals through a shared heritage.’”

Ahead of the concert in St. Kitts, the quartet met with a group of promising music students at the Nevis Performing Arts Center. The students participated in an intimate conversation with the quartet about technique, musical genres, arts education, and the use of the creative arts as a vehicle of cultural exchange. In addition, the Charlestown Secondary School’s steel pan band, “Steel on Fire,” performed musical selections for those in attendance.

The quartet’s second stop was St. Vincent and the Grenadines on September 18, where the ensemble performed during a free public concert at the Peace Memorial Hall. The U.S. Embassy presented the quartet in this series of public concerts to underscore the excellence and diversity of American music.

The quartet’s third and final stop was Grenada on September 19, where the ensemble performed during a free public concert at Charter Hall: St. George’s University. The U.S. Embassy presented the quartet in this series of public concerts to underscore the excellence and diversity of American music.

Birckhead, when asked what he wanted audiences to remember about him, said, “Music is a conversation and all students of jazz, myself included, have to learn the language of jazz.  It’s just like a child learning to talk.  You listened to your parents, your vocabulary grew, and eventually you were able to express yourself.  Music is no different, and we’re here to have a conversation with our audience.”

Yolonda Kerney, Embassy Bridgetown’s Public Affairs Officer and a former Library of Congress music historian, offered her assessment of the quartet:  “They are masterful, both technically and artistically, and they are the present and future of jazz.  Like so many great artists, their music is a reflection of their personalities — individually and as a group.  The Birckhead Quartet is confidence without arrogance; commentary without hyperbole; expansion without excess.”

Please click on the links to our Flickr stream to download photos of the concert: Gallery 1, Gallery 2