French West Indies inspires latest release from UK Jazz guitarist Cameron Pierre

Recorded in just one day at London’s Holodeck Studios, and featuring renowned French pianist Mario Cononge, Cameron Pierre’s Radio Jumbo is a mix of French Antillean rhythms and influences fused against a backdrop of jazz interpretation.

Composer, producer, arranger, teacher; Cameron Pierre is a respected staple on the UK Jazz scene. The guitarist was born in London and raised on the Caribbean island of Dominica.

I love Jazz music and it’s tradition for it offers me the unique opportunity of self expression unmatched by any other art form, says the Dominica-reared Pierre, who had only one day of rehearsal with the musicians prior to recording the live album. Radio Jumbo consists of ten tracks, two of which see vocal contributions by Dominicans Michele Henderson and Dave Joseph.”

Henderson, hugely popular in the French West Indies, masterfully covers Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star”, while Joseph gives a stirring narration on the track “Traditional.” Pierre debuts his banjo playing skills on “Traditional” as well as the title track “Radio Jumbo.” A staple of the Jing Ping bands he listened to as a child; Pierre says he always dreamt of incorporating the traditional African instrument into his music.

The album was named after a radio station from his teenage days in Dominica called Radio Jumbo and reflects the Creole heritage of both Pierre and Canonge (who hails from Martinique). Sharing a love for sounds such as zouk, cadence, kompa, and beguine; and influenced by bands such as Tabou Combo, Magnum Band, Malavoi (of which Canonge was a member) Grammaks, Exile One and others; wanting to work together was easy. Pierre first saw Caononge perform at a party in Paris in 1994 and found his way to the band’s rehearsal the following day. It took 16 years, though, for the two to actually get together to record any music.

During the recording of Radio Jumbo, Canonge was instrumental in getting Pierre’s ideas across to the musicians (including a string quartet) who were not familiar with some of the French-influenced rhythms. Still, they all shared a Caribbean sensibility; drummer Wesley Joseph was of St. Lucian descent, and the bass player Michael Bailey and percussionist Donald Gordon had in common their Jamaican heritage.

Pierre taught himself to play the guitar at age sixteen and began his musical career in the reggae genre playing for artists such as Barrington Levy, Al Campbell, Dennis Brown and Wayne Marshall. He found his niche with jazz and cites George Benson, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker as some of his greatest influencers. His music unabashedly reflects his rich Caribbean heritage.

Pierre is hopeful that a European and Caribbean tour with Canonge can take place next year. In the meantime he plays the UK jazz circuit with his own Cameron Pierre Band, and tours with Courtney Pine, who produced the album.

Radio Jumbo is available online via HMV, Amazon, iTunes and Pierre’s Official Website under the Destin-e Records label.

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