Wed | Feb 8, 2023

Jaime Hinckson bringing ‘Fresh Produce’ to the reggae and jazz scene

Published:Sunday | September 4, 2022 | 12:07 AMStephanie Lyew - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Miami-born-and-raised musician Jaime Hinckson is a classical and jazz pianist and composer who has had the opportunity to open the stage for several icons.
Miami-born-and-raised musician Jaime Hinckson is a classical and jazz pianist and composer who has had the opportunity to open the stage for several icons.

The biggest influences for Hinckson’s reggae-jazz compositions are Monty Alexander, Jackie Mittoo, Gladstone Anderson, and Augustus Pablo.
The biggest influences for Hinckson’s reggae-jazz compositions are Monty Alexander, Jackie Mittoo, Gladstone Anderson, and Augustus Pablo.
Hinckson describes his creative process as ‘sporadic and unexpected’.
Hinckson describes his creative process as ‘sporadic and unexpected’.
Hinckson’s 10-track ‘Fresh Produce’ is quickly garnering attention since its release last Friday.
Hinckson’s 10-track ‘Fresh Produce’ is quickly garnering attention since its release last Friday.
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A stalwart of Julian Marley’s The Uprising touring band, Miami-born-and-raised musician Jaime Hinckson is a classical and jazz pianist and composer who has had the opportunity to open the stage for several icons.

In 2006, at 17, Hinckson opened the Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues stage for American singer Patti LaBelle, and like any teenage boy experiencing the sights and sounds associated with a major platform, he vanished into the excitement backstage. This caused him to miss the moment the proclaimed ‘Godmother of Soul’ called his name for an encore, and as most Jamaican parents would, they never let him live it down. Speaking of the event, he shared that it was an awesome opportunity to open the stage for an icon and to be on a roster with the likes of Patti LaBelle, Air Supply, Al Green, Maxi Priest and John Legend, but that “I was young then, my friends were there and [I] had done my part, so I was so caught up in the moment, somewhere. I didn’t hear when she called me back up.”

The musician also reflected on what the platform meant to his professional development, having decided four years earlier that he was disinterested in the classical piano and shifted to learning the jazz elements inspired by his teacher Joan ‘Miss Mac’ McMorris.

“I really didn’t like classical music, but it was something I grasped easily; I didn’t practise but got better. I was also doing too much, from football, basketball [to] karate, which I loved, but my parents made me quit and forced me to stay in piano lessons, something I loathed as a child,” he said. “Though she was staring at a screw-face and arms folded, Miss Mac calmly walked over to her CD player, put in a Monty Alexander album titled Echoes of Jilly’s, which I had not heard anything like. Outside of her colleague and best friend Leslie Butler, who would later become my jazz teacher, I never heard another Jamaican jazz pianist, and it resonated with me.”

The rest was history. Before his tutors recognised it, Hinckson’s ear for playing music off the radio was perfected. He has curated a trademark improvisational sound that intertwines the rhythms of New Orleans and the reggae beats from Jamaica. Hinckson’s music is much more than the sum of its influences. In 2013, he released his first reggae-jazz album, Take Flight, and during the pandemic, when people were demanding a production of a similar calibre, he gave them Take Time – an ode to hip hop – and then started composing for his latest, 10-track album Fresh Produce, released on his very own label, Miss Mac Music.

“The creative process is very sporadic and unexpected. It’s storytelling and expression whereby in order to tell your story, you develop the music. It’s a checkpoint any time I’m able to create and share music. Unfortunately, you cannot plan a time to be creative, which is why it is such a divine moment when I’m able to find new melodies. I’m usually most productive in the wee hours of the night when all is calm and everything is still. There [are] no lyrics, so I’m the only one able to tell what the music is saying; it’s my daily experiences, good and bad, all combine to evoke musical emotions that you get to hear in each of my releases,” Hinckson shared.

The pianist/producer further expressed that his creative process isn’t linear and sometimes require many visits to the drawing board.

“The biggest influences for the reggae-jazz compositions have come from Monty Alexander, Jackie Mittoo, Gladstone Anderson, and Augustus Pablo. I’ve also done hip hop, and Afrobeats music. Inspiration also comes from the ‘70s era, the likes of James Brown and The Stylistics, as well as my classical training from Miss Mac, which has made me have an appreciation for that style of playing and is the foundation for my label,” he shared.

He can be named as one of the reasons that the younger generation in the Miami area is reconnecting with the genre as Fresh Produce is quickly garnering attention since its release last Friday.

Three songs from the latest album, namely, Don’t You Love This Song, Junction Road, and Golden, were previously released.

He continues to work as the musical director for The Uprising but has worked with other reggae artistes, including Wailing Souls, Hollie Cook, The Wailers, Hempress Sativa, and Jesse Royal, to name a few. Hinckson has several other projects in the pipeline that he is eager to share with supporters.

“Touring the world and creating music with musicians I admire has been a blessing. I’m excited for what comes next, whatever it may be, but one of my goals was to bring the focus on fresh talent and have new rhythms featuring new artistes every first Friday. I want to build on the theme of ‘fresh produce’ to welcome a fresh start and fresh outlook, especially to instrumental reggae jazz, a likely remedy,” he said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com