In the late '70s, several young musicians from the Caribbean and the Washington area came together to form the Image Band, a horn-powered 10- to 12-piece ensemble that's still joyously playing and partying after all these years.
On one level, "Let's Celebrate," the group's latest CD, is simply an invitation that's hard to resist, thanks to an infectious melange of calypso, soca, reggae and neo-quadrille rhythms and shouts. The band's "Rude Brass" section is nearly always prominently featured, vibrantly playing up a debt to Earth, Wind and Fire and other horn-charged R&B bands. But the relentlessly festive spirit generated by Image Band on "We Carnival," "Jam Them Back" and the album's title track has an allure all its own. "Let's Celebrate," in fact, salutes the 50th anniversary of a festival in St. Croix, where the Image Band performs every year.
On another level, the CD reflects the band's myriad musical and cultural influences. Take, for example, a pair of highlights composed (or arranged) by St. Croix keyboardist Loughton "Sarge" Sargeant: "Jump Around With Pan" is a tribute to Trinidad's steel pan players and tuners, while "Tribute to Archie Thomas & Friends," a salute to the late Caribbean saxophonist Archie Thomas, compresses several of his hits, including "Blow Archie Blow" and "Mardi Grue," into a brassy and freewheeling album coda.
In addition to the impressive horn and rhythm sections, the Image Band boasts two fine singers: St. Thomas-born frontman Timmy, an engaging and energetic tenor who goes by his first name, and Marge Lawrence, who adds a distinctly sensuous voice to the music and merriment.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Sunday at Zanzibar on the Waterfront. * To hear a free Sound Bite from the Image Band, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)