SING DE CHORUS: The Ewan Simpson-led singers performed folk gems and praise songs with terrific results.
With their lush harmonies and stirring instrumentation, the NDTC Singers (and musicians) consistently bring spark and complementary appeal to the annual seasons of the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica. This year the company observes its 55th anniversary and to mark the occasion the Singers have not only released a commemorative CD; they recently staged a recital at the Little Theatre dubbed “The Music of the NDTC: the Emerald Edition.”
Hugely enjoyable and reflective of the depth and breadth of traditional Jamaican sounds (and the modern grooves they’ve spawned), the concert more than lived up to our expectations and gave the Singers a showcase both fitting and memorable.
Traddin’ produced a wonderful suite of folk songs like “Tambo Yah Yah”, “Gal Up a Hilltop” and “I Want to Know” that showed off their powerful four-part harmonies. The Play Time suite was equally delightful, winning us over with nostalgic tunes like “Jane & Louisa Will Soon Come Home”, “Brown Girl in the Ring” and “Manuel Road”. That the suite evolved into something danceable, swelling and taking on unexpected melodious contours, is testament to Musical Director Ewan Simpson’s fine skills as arranger.
Soul-stirring praise songs comprised “The Celebrant”, while the musicians served up hyper-rhythmic concoctions while performing “Last Season” and “Shangolese”.
Naturally, the dancers were part of the presentation. Soloist Javal Lewis brought incredible emotional intelligence to centrestage, as he performed the moving, sorrowful “Walk With Me.” For the sublime, Kerry-Ann Henry-choreographed “Haven,” a trio of graceful female dancers moved to the strains of the Singers as they gave a robust interpretation of “The Prayer.” An elaborate jazz-club setting added to the intrigue and timeless appeal of Marlon Simms’ “Beres on Love,” a passionate piece featuring great solo work from Henry, Simms and others.
The overall package was the kind of sophisticated, a-delightful-evening-at-the-theatre kind of entertainment that the NDTC is known for – but with the singers, not the dancers, taking the lead this time around.