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Ke Ke Keng!: A Night of Music at Redbones with Seretse Small and Friends

Seretse Small's Ke Ke Keng at Redbones the Blues Cafe

When I first saw the title Ke Ke Keng I thought it was reference to the laughter of a female ghost. Seretse Small, the man behind the night, the man who had gathered a plethora of talented musicians to make beautiful, musical magic quickly corrected me, explaining that name referred to a West African cowbell pattern. But by the end of the night I realized that I was initially right, because the spirits of music must surely have been delighted enough to issue a “ke ke keng keng” into the night air.

Small explained that he had been inspired to do the show after an encounter with guitarist Neils Onstenk, and it was therefore an opportunity for the two guitarists to rock the stage together. Ke Ke Keng then coalesced over the next few days via Facebook posts, highlighting that the social media site can do more than be a weapon of mass distraction. Plans for Ke Ke Keng proceeded in a rolling online discussions with musicians and sound and equipment providers.
(l-r) Jeremy Ashbourne - drums, Dean Fraser - sax and Wayne McGregor, guitar
Ke Ke Keng’s improvisational roots were translated into the performance and added to the energy of the evening. There was no standard band change, but the band was always changing depending on the song or the genre.

Invoking the name of the show, they were off to a great start segueing into Miles Davis’ 'Footprints'. Diversity, was the main stay of the night, with the group performing pieces from their individual repertoires or standard jazz, blues and reggae pieces.

Ke Ke Keng included renditions of Marley’s ‘Jamming’ and ‘Exodus’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Very Superstitious’ (with Wayne McGregor on vocals and guitar); Dave Bruebeck’s ‘Take Five’ (with Dean Barnett on steel pan).
Ruth Royes adds her voice to the night of talented musicians
Ruth Royes also loaned her strong, smooth vocals to the night performing Norah Jones’ ‘Don’t Know Why’ as well as renditions of the jazz standards ‘God Bless the Child’ and ‘Summertime’ which was delightfully remixed with the one-drop reggae rhythm.

The constantly evolving band, also took special requests from the audience. When Small issued the first call for requests, asking the audience to tell them what genre to play next, he got a singer instead and the audience was treated to an enjoyable impromptu blues performance.

The night’s impressive roster of musicians also included Dean Fraser on saxophone, Adrian Hemans on keyboards,  Michael Fletcher on bass, Jeremy Ashbourne on drums, Akil Karram on drums,  and Denver Smith on percussions.
An impromptu performance by this guest highlighted the improv nature of the night
So not surprisingly, the night was fueled by a series of impressive solos on a range of instruments.

Ke Ke Keng was held at Redbones the Blues Cafe, New Kingston, on Thursday, November 21, 2013.