What’s in a name?

In choosing a name for this contemporary jazz sextet, we wanted one that was recognizable throughout the Caribbean, and at the same time, one that was evocative of Continental Africa, the two regions of the world that have a strong influence on the ensemble’s original music. “Kalabash” seemed to be that kind of name. We used a “K” since we assumed the standard spelling, “Calabash”, would likely be in common use already as a name. We guessed right!

As we researched themes and images for our first website build, we realized that the name was more magical than we thought. Gourds like the calabash are used to make a stunning array of musical instruments. And they are often used as resonators in African percussion instruments like the mbira and balafon, both precursors of the steeldrum/steelpan, a lead instrument on the Kalabash frontline.

The magic continued to unfold when we were led to a charming Arawak myth about the calabash, by a poem titled “Gourd” from writer Olive Senior. This was the initial inspiration behind our creative tag line. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when we discovered the beautiful work of artist, Deborah Easley. Her exquisite piece, “Egyptian Spirit People”, was used (with permission) in our original website design, and is the catalyst behind the phrase we use to paint Kalabash as: “Gift from Orehu, spirit of the waters … inside that sacred shell, our souls dance, weaving Antillean rhythms and colours into the never-ending jazz fabric”.