Walk down memory lane for jazz, blues lovers

Local music diva Eni Kumar will take jazz lovers down memory lane st Shenanigans this Saturday. Picture SUPPLIED

THIS Saturday, five of Fiji’s premier female vocalists, backed by the crème de la crème of Fijian musicians, will take jazz and blues lovers on a walk down memory lane.

The event is Ladies of Jazz, the venue is Shenanigans and the woman behind the show is Darlene Underwood.

Darlene is no stranger to the local music scene, she was the brainchild behind the Uprising Festival of Music, Dance and Lights — an event she successfully ran for 10 years.

She grew up in a musical family and lived a life surrounded by music with one of Fiji’s guitar icons Robert Verma who unfortunately passed on a year ago.

Darlene is a trained classic pianist and while she has not performed publicly, she has a firm grasp of the nuances of tone and rhythm.

Her son, Joseph Amputch, is a renowned blues guitarist, singer and songwriter and he performs in the Adelaide music scene on a regular basis.

“I was blessed to be given the opportunity to put together the Uprising Festival and it was a wonderful experience watching the seasoned musicians rub shoulders with the newbies and to watch the youngsters grow into their own,” she said.

“But after a while I realised that I had done as much as I could with the festival and it was time to turn to something that I have a great affinity for — jazz music.

“I realised that while Uprising was good, it had a very different market and appealed more to the youth and young professionals.

“There really was nothing for jazz music lovers to go to.

“There was a gap in the market in terms of a venue where jazz music followers and appreciators could kick back, relax and be enveloped with the smooth sounds of our really great female artists.”

Darlene said provided she received sponsorship, Ladies of Jazz would be an annual event.

“You can’t put a show like this together without sponsors and I would like to acknowledge Victoria Wines, StageTech and all the other sponsors for coming on board.

“I hope to make this an annual event because I really feel that Fiji needs it. I really think we need to expose our young people to this beautiful and timeless music, it’s the only way they will learn to appreciate the art form.

“I am so humbled by the great local artists who have put their hands up to make this happen.”

The star-studded billing includes the evergreen Eni Kumar, Annie Mawi, Josephine Dass, Sassy and Laisa Vulakoro. “Everyone has the same reaction when they hear that Laisa’s on the program.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that she began her career singing jazz and blues and the classics.

“People only know her as the vude queen but when she is at home or in the company of close friends and family, Laisa likes to listen to jazz classics and she likes to sing jazz classics as well.

“She will kick off Ladies of Jazz with a special number that she used to sing a lot with Robert Verma

“I think it’s only fitting that we pay homage to him on his anniversary.”

Similar sentiments were shared by Aneil Kumar, husband of local music diva Eni.

“We came out of retirement to perform at this show because we want to pay homage to Robert Verma and his amazing contribution to the local music scene,” he said.

“Eni will be backed by George Moore on bass guitar, Sam Mawi on keyboard, Sam Waqa on guitar and yours truly on the drums.”

Ladies of Jazz begins at 6pm sharp at Shenanigans, 3 MacArthur St, Suva.

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