Here comes Cleveland Watkiss’s night of Jamaican sunshine at NCEM

Jamaican joy: London jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss celebrates his Caribbean roots at the NCEM, York

HACKNEY jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss brings the winter sunshine to the National Centre for Early Music in York on Thursday when presenting his Great Jamaican Songbook concert.

Marking his 60th year with a joyous show, Watkiss revives some of the greatest songs written by Jamaican legends Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Delroy Wilson et al as he presents a personal project exploring music that connects him to his Jamaican roots.

Watkiss will be delving into Jamaica’s long history of pioneering musical sounds, from Mento and Ska to Reggae, Dub and Roots, as well as highlighting record labels and producers such as Studio One, Coxsone Dodd, TuffGong, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and King Tubby.

His 7.30pm set list takes in the work of Don Drummond; Ernest Ranglin; the Barrett Brothers; Jackie Mittoo; Leroy  ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace; Alton Ellis; Ken Booth; The Wailers; Millie Small; Marcia Griffith; Dawn Penn; Dennis Brown; Gregory Isaacs; Burnin’ Spear and Johnny Osbourne, many of whom graduated from The Alpha Boys School under the tutelage of Sister Mary Ignatius Davis, alias “The Nun”.

Thursday night’s musical guests are drawn from Watkiss’s collaborators old and new: Orphy Robinson, on keyboards and percussion; Ray Carless, saxophones; Byron Wallen, trumpet; Delroy Murray, bass; Brandon Murray, guitars; Dan Barnett, drums, and Phil Ramocon, keyboards.

Tickets cost £18, concessions £16, on 01904 658338 or at

Charles Hutchinson