The U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS hosted the Brent Birckhead Quartet in a four-nation Eastern Caribbean tour. The quartet’s first stop was in Barbados on April 24, where the ensemble performed during a free public concert at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. The U.S. Embassy presented the quartet in this series of public concerts to underscore the excellence and diversity of American music and as well highlight Jazz Appreciation Month. The Quartet’s Eastern Caribbean tour also included performances in St. Lucia, Antigua, and Dominica.
The four award-winning Americans of the quartet include saxophonist Brent Birckhead, pianist, Mark Meadows; percussionist, Carroll Dashiell III; and bassist, Romeir Mendez. The ensemble thrilled the standing-room only crowd with a program of jazz standards and original compositions. In his opening remarks, U.S. Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS Dr. Larry Palmer said, “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.” Distinguished guests in attendance included the Honorary Consul for Italy to Barbados, Paola Baldi, Chairman of LIAT, Dr. Jean Holder and Mrs. Holder, and Lady Stella St. John.
When asked what he wanted audiences to remember about him, Birckhead 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.”