June is Caribbean Heritage Month, so it was fitting that the Marine Park Summer Concert Series kicked off the season with the cool sounds of Kool Element Latin Jazz Project, among other talented musicians, at the second annual Salsa and Caribbean Night, held in Marine Park on Wednesday, June 28th.
Before the eight-piece band performed, the Abe Stark Center Steel Pan Band entertained the crowd with the soothing sounds of steel pan. The drummers learned their craft at the Abe Stark Older Adult Center in Canarsie, one of the many programs offered for active older adults, thanks to Program Director Patricia Lynch and Millennium Development.
Next, Kool Elements’ eight-piece band, led by Eddie Martinez, played a variety of classic hits, and current Mark Anthony selections, creating beautiful sounds on the congas, bongos, upright bass, saxophone, flute, keyboard and timbale. Martinez is the founder of Kool Element Latin Jazz Project and a long-time Canarsie resident. He told the crowd, “You don’t have to be from the Caribbean to enjoy this music. Music is music.”
Freddy Harris of the Sesame Flyers performed several steel pan solos, closing out the night with the “Star-Spangled Banner” in honor of the upcoming 4th of July holiday. He also wowed the crowd with “My Heart Will Go On,” the theme from Titanic, and “Hava Nagila.”
When Donald Cranston, Assemblywoman Jaime Williams’ right-hand man, got up to sing a Caribbean song, Ragga Ragga, he summed up the unity and spirit of the evening. “Where else can you see a Trinidadian playing “Hava Nagila” and an Irishman singing a Caribbean song?”
The threat of rain earlier in the evening kept the crowd light, but once the concert started, the weather remained beautiful throughout the entire concert. If you missed the first concert, be sure to attend the next one on Wednesday, July 12th where The Regina Opera will be performing opera and Broadway show tunes at 7 p.m. Rain date is July 13th. Concerts take place on the lawn near the bocce courts.