Blue Notes: Sounds From Exuma – The Kingdom of Blue

Excerpt from Alessandro Sarno’s Exumas: The Kingdom of The Blue.

Capturing the beauty of the Exumas in a book is close to an impossible mission. Exumas: The Kingdom of Blue is my humble way of depicting the vast expanses and small corners I had the luck of exploring, along with the people I had the privilege to meet along the way. The book features some of my most significant experiences traveling the Exumas, as well as several short stories, blurbs, and perspectives, both my own and by different people I have encountered along my journey—a journey which began many years ago in a little cay called Ship Channel Cay.

I was driving in the Alps on my way to Switzerland to meet with my publisher, Beat, when the radio started playing Rhapsody in Blue. While listening to Gershwin’s notes, I was struck by a thought that soon grew into an idea: having a piece of custom Jazz music written for the book—a sort of soundtrack to accompany the viewer into a journey through the shallow and deeper blues of the Exumas – a piece of music that would add to the reading experience, beyond simply looking at the photographs.

Alessandro’s recently released Exumas takes you on a journey through the soul of an island people

I immediately explained my idea to my talented friend, Bahamian jazz trumpeter Giveton Gelin, to see what he thought. Giveton loved the concept and started his creative process right away from his place in New York City. In my books, I aim to create a crossroad between art, photography, and poetry, and now this time, music as well. I am pleased that a rising young star on the international jazz scene is lending his composing skills to this project. I first met Giveton at Jacaranda House in Nassau in 2015. He was playing with the “Jazz Cats” band, lead by a dear friend and Gelin’s mentor, Adrian D’Aguilar. I loved Giveton’s trumpet playing, and we put together an informal photo shoot the next week. That’s when our friendship began.

Since 10 years old, Gelin taught himself to play the trumpet simply by emulating his favorite records. After years of self-tutelage, bass player Adrian D’Aguilar began mentored him with the tools to play jazz. Later on, Gelin studied with Dr. Eddie Henderson at the Oberlin Conservatory, and received recognition at the Young Arts Foundation and Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program. He continued his studies at Juilliard School—expecting to graduate in 2021. In the span of three years, Gelin has played with pioneers of the NY jazz scene such as Curtis Lundy, Bobby Watson, Roy Hargrove, Sullivan Fortner, Wynton Marsalis, Ben Wolfe, and Jon Batiste.The 21-year- old trumpeter has received tutelage from some of the world’s greatest, including Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Ralph Peterson, and is the protege of the late, Roy Hargrove. The Nassau-born musician was awarded the 2020 LetterOne Rising Star Jazz Award, and ASCAP’s Herb Alpert Award. Ultimately, Gelin’s artistic vision is to pay tribute to his ancestors, and unify others by incorporating universal human experiences into sound. Through his quintet, the young trumpeter brings forth a new narrative to jazz music.

Learn more about Giveton Gelin and his music at givetongelin.com

Alessandro Sarno was born and raised in Italy. He published six coffee table books, Blue And Beyond,  Catch Da Cat, Eleuthera The Garden of Freedom, Exumas The Kingdom of Blue and Cat Island Diamonds and Rust to portray life in The Bahamas, and Junkanoo-The Spirit of a People to tell the story of Junkanoo, the most important cultural event in The Bahamas. He also published a very unique photographic travel guide of the island of Eleuthera called White Bull on the Highway, and a luxury paperback book about one of the most beautiful parks in the world, Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. Alessandro’s work has been featured in many group shows in The Bahamas and the United States, including Kroma Gallery’s Goombay—An Homage to Coconut Grove—a Junkanoo-themed exhibition in Miami. His latest show The Spirit of a People is currently on show at the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach.

To purchase Alessandro’s book or prints visit shop.thelonesomephotographer.com/ or follow his travels and stories on www.instagram.com/thelonesomephotographer

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