You are here

Bio of Don Drummond Gets Jamaican Launch for Groundation 2016

Heather Augustyn author of Don Drummond the Genius and the Tragedy

“I wrote this book because Roger Steffens once told me that there are over 500 books on Bob Marley, but not one book on Don Drummond,” explained Heather Augustyn. The occasion was the first installment of the Reggae Month 2016 Groundation series, and the launch of her book Don Drummond - The Genius and the Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist

“I love Bob Marley,” Augustyn would continue, “but I wanted to write a book about the man whose music helped to shape Bob Marley.” 

Don Drummond - The Genius and Tragedy was introduced by Dr. Christopher Charles, political psychologist and academic. 

Dr. Christopher Charles political sociologist and academicHe described Don Drummond as the “Don of Dons”, though his presentation, suggested that the merit of the statement rested most heavily on the pun, not on his musical knowledge. From his presentation, it was evident that Charles had a clear vision of Jamaican society. His understanding of how to review and/or introduce a book, however, was extremely lacking.

By the end of his presentation, it was evident that he had read the book, and he indicated that he had enjoyed the book, but provided the audience with no insight into the work. He had not contextualized the work, nor even its value to the landscape. So, although he described the book as “very good”, those words were without real meaning.

He did however, point to some small, yet important errors in the work. Interestingly, the existing errors, are a louder indictment of Jamaicans than Augustyn. As Charles read through, the small yet culturally significant things, and even worse yet, when museum curator Herbie Miller, gave his presentation, the unspoken question of why the book had not the written by a Jamaican, echoed loudly in the room. 

Yet, despite its genesis, Don Drummond - The Genius and Tragedy appears to be a worthwhile addition to the landscape. Though Charles brought no insight into the text, Augustyn, saved her book from possible dismissal by the audience, by reading its preface which promises an informed look at Drummond, even if she confuses bammy and cassava. 

For those who had not yet got their hands on the book, that insight came from Miller’s presentation, augmented by music and pictures did much to peel back a few of the layers surrounding the enigmatic Drummond. Elaine Wint hosted the event at the Institute of Jamaica

The day's event set the groundwork for four-week-long series which will see Drummond explored from the musical, psychological and inspirational points of view. Charles’ presentation, would have arguably brought some socio-political insight, but it failed to do that adequately. 

Even so, the afternoon managed to capture Drummond’s international impact, an element alluded to by the event host Elaine Wint in her introductory comments. 

“That music that has called us and has anchored itself not only in our hearts but the hearts of the world, is not solely ours alone.” Wint said, describing the music’s international reach.

Author Heather Augustyn reads from Don Drummond - The Genius and TragedyDrummond’s impact was succinctly captured by Augustyn, as the Chicago native responded to Charles’ critique that although the book has Drummond been ranked in the top 5 while he was alive, the title dubs him the ‘worlds’ greatest trombonist’.

“He is the greatest because of his reach,” August said, pointing out that Drummond’s music continues to be played, re-interpreted and continues to inspire. “It is like the Nile. It is fertile and the tributaries are many.”

The launch took place on Sunday, February 7, 2016 at the Institute of Jamaica. The Groundation 2016 series on Don Drummond continues each week at 2:00 pm. The series is the Reggae Mont event staged by the Music Museum of Jamaica.