Many of you are eagerly awaiting this year’s Panama Jazz Festival- the fourteenth to be exact- which is scheduled to take place next week from January 10th to January 14, 2017. This year we’re excited to announce that the Jazz Festival will be dedicated to the inimitable Violeta Green, probably the best female Jazz vocalist of Panama. The festival will take place at The Ciudad del Saber on the former grounds of Ft. Clayton.
Since we blogged about Violeta Green several years ago when we were writing about Lord Cobra and other West Indian Panamanian Jazz and Calypso artists, we’ve decided to re-print the article here entitled, Violeta Green and Lord Cobra- A Meeting of Three Worlds. Inform yourself by reading the article about the dynamic life of a remarkable woman. The video will also fill you in on her life.
There was a time when the name Violeta Green was synonymous with the City of Colon. The same may be said of Lord Cobra. As we’ve already discovered, although he was a native of Bocas del Toro, Cobra lived and worked throughout his life in the province of Colon and both Violeta and Cobra, as well as being close friends were consummate exponents of two musical genres that are part of the Panamanian culture today: jazz and calypso.
Back in the decade of the ‘60s, when Panamanian television was trying out its wings in the production of nationally produced programs (at that time they were usually of higher quality) we can remember, with nostalgia, the very particular voice and the phraseology of Violeta Green who, with an extraordinary versatility, could render an exquisite interpretation of a piece of jazz, often from blues and end her number with a ballad of any one of the great Latin American composers like Ernesto Lecuona, Rafael Hernandez or Avelino Muñoz. Violeta had those virtues and she was not only physically great (she stood over six feet tall) she was very gifted artistically. With all her grandeur however, she was always a humble person especially before her grateful audiences, making her even grander, in my estimation. Violeta Green transcended the artistic sphere of our country, and in not a few occasions.
For not one but two generations of afropanameños, Violeta was a focus of pride. Along with the maestro Clarence Martin, another giant who has also passed on, and many other composers and interpreters, children and daughters of immigrants of the Caribbean, Violeta Green gave to jazz in Panama its own hue. This has been documented properly in many hours of television tapes, as well as in an excellent work of investigation made by Gerardo Maloney, entitled “Tambo Jazz,” also made into an audio-visual production with the same title in the decade of years 90’s.
It was with the same spirit although in a different genre that Lord Cobra recreated his cultural inheritance and delighted his audiences with the irresistible Calypso rhythm. The son of Jamaican immigrants, Cobra, no doubt, drew upon his cultural roots in exercising his talent for dominating the art of storytelling with his unique brand of humor and Caribbean picardía. Of course, as with everything Calypsonian he was rarely separated from his yukalele, an instrument of extended use in the islands of the Caribbean and whose name is of African origin.
Although they have departed this life, both Lord Cobra and Violeta Green have left an invaluable legacy to the world and especially to the newer generations of Panamanians, hungry for cultural expression. Their relationship and artistic collaboration made possible the fusion and expression of three worlds, Jazz, Calypso and the Latin American ballad all rolled up in the musical genius of these Panamanian Westindians.
Credit for information for our article must go to Alberto S. Barrow N. “Dos Voces…Un Mismo Espiritu,” Tragaluz, 14 May 2000
For information and on line tickets go here PanamaJazzfestival.com