Roy Hargrove RH Factor headlined the 9th Annual Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival Aruba 2015. Roy Hargrove is a two-time Grammy award winner, and the leader of three separate bands, a straight ahead jazz quintet, a big band, and his Hip-Hop, Soul, Funk, Jazz Fusion Band, RH Factor.
For the third consecutive year the festival was held at the Renaissance Festival Plaza (Renaissance Marketplace), a venue overlooking the deep water harbor, where cruise ships dock daily, and which houses fine restaurants and shops. A high-end shopping mall is just up the street. The festival ran the last weekend of Friday, Sept., 25 to Saturday, Sept. 26. RH Factor played the first night Friday the 25th, and did not disappoint. Roy Hargrove plays trumpet, flugel horn and keyboard, and in the tradition of jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong he also sings.
RH Factor got into full gear as it swung through jazz, blues, soul, funk and hip-hop rhythms and beats. By mid set RH had transformed into Parliament Funckadelic with a high energy rendition of “One Nation Under a Groove.” When they left the stage, the audience was stoked having enjoyed a rare music experience. They whistled, clapped and shouted for Roy to return to the stage. He walked back on the stage, but only bid them good night and promised to see them again. Besides being a consummate performer Roy Hargrove is a style-setting icon with many looks. This night he wore a beige linin suit with matching shirt and bow tie, and tortoise shell shades, and to top it off, he sported a Mohawk haircut.
Friday night also featured a local Aruban group, The Failures (who are anything but that), Michael Bremo, Fuente, The Ploctones, Earth Wind and Fire Experience featuring Al McKay and Mike Stern. Saturday, night two, featured Roberta Gambarini, Franklin Granadillo Big Band, Johnny Scharbaay, Maite Hontele, Robert Jeand’or, Jessy J, Groupo Niche and Live Xpressions.
The Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival Aruba offers an opportunity for local high caliber bands and bands with a reputation built on European touring to play on a bill with internationally celebrated band and musicians. Some of the featured performers who have been featured in the festival over its past nine years are George Benson, Jose James, Liv Warfield, Chaka Khan, Fourplay, Richard Bona, Randy Brecker, Eddie Palmieri, Marcus Miller, Michel Camilo, Angie Stone, and David Sanborn.
Aruba is an ideal place for a jazz festival of this caliber, and an end of summer vacation. The island is a virtual paradise with pristine beaches, luxury hotel accommodations, fine restaurants and beautiful weather all year long. The island escapes the hurricane belt in the Caribbean and is just north of Venezuela, and part of the Dutch Antilles. There is a constant breeze from the trade winds, which keeps the temperature and humidity at a very comfortable level.
Next year’s festival is scheduled for Sept. 23 and 24. Prepare for your end of summer vacation to an island paradise with some great music.