Kingsley Ettienne
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Kingsley Ettienne


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The best kept secret in music


"Kingsley's Magical Fingers"

The passionate Kingsley Ettienne plays the Hammond organ during opening day of the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival 2001, held at the Almond Tree Gardens, on Sunday. The festival continues until June 17. - Michael Sloley

THEY SEEMED to move at the speed of light, each one sure of its routine and rhythm, dancing expertly upon the tiny panels of ebony and ivory.

The audience was spellbound; shrieks of approval leaped into the air and lingered briefly, floating above the melody with every new stanza. The performers were the magical fingers of organist Kingsley Ettienne, prancing across the double tiered platform of the Hammond organ during opening day at the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival 2001, held at the Almond Tree Gardens on Sunday.

What a sight to behold, as they hammered out each number, changing in tempo, pitch, volume and tone at will, jumping left and right, and up and down, creating a mesmerising melody, in harmony with Ettienne's mind.

"You almost have to have five minds," Ettienne said, sipping a drink after his performance. Anyone who knows anything about musical instruments, knows that the Hammond organ is one of the most difficult to master, nevermind to play at the level of Kingsley Ettienne.

"The difficulty has to do with the separation of the different tones, and so while both hands are doing totally different things, and the feet are responding to their respective hands, I literally have to be able to divide my mind into five pieces. It must be because I'm a Gemini," he joked.

Born in Grenada, Ettienne has been a musician for over 28 years, and says that his background in the church has a lot to do with his musical growth. His first instrument was the guitar, and then he moved on to the saxophone. After seeing the great organist Jimmy Smith perform, Ettienne was hooked.

"It's a fabulous instrument, and many people like to play with it, but they don't go to the edge. I love to go to the edge of it," he observed.

It is no exaggeration - when Ettienne performs he commands a passion and focus unmatched by most musicians. His fingers take on a life of their own and undertake a musical feat that cannot be described by words, only explained in the harmonious blend and magic of the melody, dancing from octave to octave, leaving audiences enchanted by the raw beauty and power.

Doug Richardson, a tenor saxophonist and close friend of the organist, gave us his explanation of his friend's musical mastery.

"That's right, I think he's an octopus," Richardson mused, while Ettienne laughed. Both musicians, together with drummer Carl Mcleod, will perform as the Kingsley Ettienne Trio throughout the festival, which continues until June 17, hosted at various venues in Kingston, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril.

- The Jamacian Gleaner

"Kingsley Ettienne thrills Grog Shoppe-Norman Munroe"

Hammond organ maestro, Kingsley Ettienne, in his second gig at the Grog Shoppe, Devon House in as many years, turned in a sound performance Monday night which left the fans who turned out quite happy.

Monday's event marked the first in the series of shows at the Grog Shoppe, ending last night, dubbed the Jazz Organ Summit, presented as part of the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival.

Having woven his brand of musical magic at the Almond Tree Restaurant in Ocho Rios the previous day, the Grenadian-born Canadian resident jazz organist once again turned it on.

Accompanied by his regular sideman, Doug Richardson, on the tenor saxophone, and stand in drummer, Deleon White, he took the audience on a wild ride during which he performed mostly swing and bebop with some blues, all of which genres enabled him to highlight the range and the awesome power of this great instrument.

While he is perhaps not quite abreast of the acknowledged doyen of the instrument Jimmy Smith, Ettienne is a gifted organist and his gift for free-styling improvisation and his infectious effervescence as a performer make him a delight to listen to and to watch.

Doug Richardson, too, is a smooth horn blower whose playing is also a treat for the ear. For his part, Deleon White, who, like Carl McLeod on Sunday, was deputising for Ettienne's regular drummer who couldn't make the trip to Jamaica, showed that he is a much more than competent jazz drummer, and provided excellent backup.

While most of the pieces were unannounced, among the items the trio played were the gospel chorus Down By The Riverside and some hard-driving John Coltrane, while Ettienne exercised his vocals on Bring It On Home To Me, Georgia, Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Every Day I Have The Blues.

Joined on stage by guitarist, Maurice Gordon, the quartet also did a jaunty rendition of the mento standard, St Thomas, segueing into Linstead Market. This segment of the evening's proceedings was highlighted by a sparkling, extended Deleon White drum solo, who at one stage was left on the bandstand by his bandmates (one jokingly waving goodbye to him as he exited) as he perfected the art of noise. The solo earned the drummer, who usually backs reggae artistes such as Bushman and Mutabaruka, richly-deserved applause.

White, who described the experience of playing with Ettienne as hard work but a lot of fun, was praised by the organist as a "very promising young player".

Earlier, Gordon, backed by keyboard player, Jill Gibson, bass player Dale Haslam and White played a number of delightful, mostly Maurice Gordon compositions, some drawn from his 1999 album Irie Mood.

Come this weekend, another Hammond organ player, Joey De Francesco, will be in action in Ocho Rios at the jazz festival's final concert at the Almond Tree Gardens. The 28-year old organist, who already has 12 albums and countless guest appearances under his belt, like Ettienne, is expected to put on quite a show, to bring the curtain down on the 2001 Ocho Rios Jazz Festival.

- The Daily Observer


Just Having Fun (2004) Canadian Release (Independent)
I Remember You (2002) Canadian Release (Independent)
Another Side of Me (2002) Canadian Release (Independent)
Steppin Out Live in Concert (1996) Canadian Release (Ijackson Records)
Steppin Out Live in Concert (1995) Europeon Release (Jackson Records)
Steppin Out Live in Concert (1995) California Release (Sony Records)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Kingsley Ettienne's unswerving dedication and drive for excellence have enabled him to shape his raw talent into a unique style that is at once technically superb and spiritually deep. He has played with many of the world's giants: Jimmy Smith, Jack McGiff, Barbara Denerlain and others.

His understanding of the shift and flow of many musical genres and traditions, coupled with his feeling for the honesty in all good work, makes his inspired performances riveting and unforgettable.

Kingsley's straight-ahead jazz, combined with a mesmerizing blend of Gospel, Reggae, Calypso, Blues and Funk has thrilled Hammond organ enthusiasts beyond the limits of their expectations. Described as a cross between Billy Eckstine, Nat King Cole and Teddy Pendergrass, Kingsley's powerful, soulful vocals, threaded together with his awesome playing, must be heard to be believed.

Kingsley's "Stepping Out" CD was released in Europe and Canada in 1995 and in Canada in 1996. His second CD "Another Side of Me" was released in 1999, and his third album, the acclaimed "I Remember You" was released in 2001. His latest album is a thrilling collaboration with fellow Grenadian musician Eddie Bullen, called "de Organ Grinders".

King thrilled his home audience in 2000 when he performed at the Grenada Spice Jazz Festival's "Royalty Night"; audiences had the chance to revisit his magic at his unscheduled appearance during the 2003 Spice Jazz Festival. Kingsley has performed at other regional jazz festivals, such as the St Lucia and the Jamaica Festivals, and completed a tour of South America in mid-2003