Caribbean Music in Roxbury Park with Fantastical Features

Allen Bush
July 19, 2010
Berklee faculty member Ron Reid leads the Sunsteel Sextet in a program of Caribbean folk, calypso, Afro-Cuban, and jazz at Highland Park.
The landmark tower at the top of Roxbury's Highland Park is the backdrop for the annual Jazz at the Fort concert.
Photo provided by the artist

Berklee and ParkARTS present music outdoors in Boston's historic and enchanting Fort Hill neighborhood with Ron Reid and the Sunsteel Sextet and opener the Jazz Robertson Quintet. The annual Jazz at the Fort concert is free and will be held on Sunday, August 1, at 5:00 p.m., at Highland Park on Fort Avenue, Roxbury. The rain date is August 8. Folding chairs, blankets, and picnics are encouraged.

Highland Park is known for its willow trees, rolling lawn, puddingstone boulders, and Victorian-era water tower that looks like it could be home to Rapunzel.

"Our partnership with Berklee brings some of the world's finest jazz musicians to Boston's neighborhood parks," noted Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Music lovers of all ages and the musicians themselves welcome these opportunities to enjoy the arts in great outdoor spaces like Highland Park."

Jazz at the Fort is accessible from the MBTA's Orange Line Roxbury Crossing stop. Walk down Columbus Avenue to Cedar Street to Fort Avenue. Roxbury Community College provides parking on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Cedar Street. Highland Park is wheelchair-accessible. For information call 617 747-6057.

Ron Reid is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and an associate professor in contemporary writing and production at Berklee. His Sunsteel Sextet plays an eclectic mix of Caribbean folk, calypso, Afro-Cuban, and jazz melodies. This smoldering ensemble of Berklee alumni and faculty conducts workshops and lecture demonstrations at colleges and high schools, and performs concerts, corporate events, and club dates. Saxophonist Elan Trotman will be the special guest for this performance.

Jazz Robertson got her induction into the music scene at the tender age of 5, when she took in her first live concert: Eric Clapton. But it wasn't Clapton's guitar chops that made her jaw drop—it was Steve Gadd's killer drumming. A decade later, she received a drum set from her mother, and within months she was playing in local bands around Pittsburgh. After passing up an opportunity to attend law school, she auditioned for Berklee and was accepted on a full-tuition scholarship.

Now in its 14th year, ParkARTS began as mayor Menino's initiative to present a yearlong program of arts- and culture-related programs and events in Boston's park system. ParkARTS, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department's multifaceted arts program, incorporates the visual, performing, and participatory arts. The 2010 ParkARTS performing arts program, sponsored by Bank of America, presents concerts in Boston neighborhood parks that range from jazz to symphonic music.