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For Immediate Release

Title: Air Jamaica Jazz Fest Pays Once In A Lifetime Salute To Bryon Lee & The Dragonaires


NEW YORK, N.Y., Fri. Dec. 30, 2005: Before there was Bob Marley, there was Byron Lee & and his Dragonaires band, developing and popularizing the sound called ska and adding to the mix, calypso. The year was 1956, some 20 years before Marley emerged on the world’s stage. As Lee tells it, “”When I entered the scene, Jamaica did not have a national sound. We were copying other peoples’ music and playing a little Latin like the cha, cha and the meringue and the calypso and rumba.”" Under the guidance of Edward Seaga, then minister of culture for Jamaica, Lee says he went to western Kingston and took the ska sound that was being played there, developed and polished it after 3 months and made it the “” first original sounds”" of Jamaica. On January 28, 2006, the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club in Montego Bay, Jamaica will come alive with a generation of Caribbean musical performers, who will join organizers of the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in paying tribute to Lee, a Caribbean musical icon whose career spans a phenomenal half-a-century. Performer, producer, promoter and bandleader, Lee and his Dragonaires band, have recorded almost 700 titles since 1956 and garnered 10 major hits including ‘Tiny Winey,’ ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Soca Tatie.’ He was playing many world-class arenas before Marley and has seen the evolution of the music in Jamaica, from ska with mento to rocksteady, reggae, dancehall and now the fertilization of dancehall and Hip Hop. And his Dynamics Studios has recorded tracks for musical heavy weights like Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Roberta Flack and Marley. Plus he brought calypso from Trinidad and popularized it in Jamaica and followed up in the 1980’s by bringing carnival to the island and merging soca with dancehall in a merger of the music of both countries. For Lee, who spends his time between Miami and Jamaica, the honor is amazing, especially since to him, “”it’s a foregone conclusion that the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival is THE festival of the Caribbean.”" At first, he revealed, he thought Turn Key Productions executive, Walter Elmore, was joking. “”I didn’t believe Walter at first,”" Lee said with a laugh. “”But when Walter got serious, I realized it was genuine. He told me to bring back popular people that I associated with for a musical honor.”" And the Dynamic studio executive has. The Calypso King of the World, the Mighty Sparrow; Arrow of ‘Hot, Hot, Hot,’ fame, the Merry Men of Barbados who will be reuniting on stage for the first time in years; Marcia Griffiths, Ernie Smith, Pluto, Admiral Bailey and Ken Lazarus are just some of the top notch cast that will gather at midnight on January 28 to pay tribute to Lee and his 14-member band for three solid hours. But the show will not stop there. Lee revealed that he and the Dragonaires will take the stage at 3 a.m. for a carnival bacchanal at the jazz and blues fest. “”We’re going to have a carnival session at the last part