May 15, 2002 – May's "Sunset Jazz" concert — this Friday — showcases the talents of the local band Tuff Enuff in a program called, creatively enough, "The Jazz Side of Tuff Enuff."
It takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Veterans Park on the Frederiksted waterfront. Admission is free, as is the invariably spectacular sunset, and attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs or blankets to sit on.
There will be a cash bar.
Tuff Enuff comprises Gary Zappa on bass, Edwin "Papo" Valentine on drums, Ronnie Russell on guitar, and Eddie Russell on trumpet and flugelhorn. Here's a little background on each of the musicians:
Zappa grew up in the American Midwest, attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison and played with Chicago blues artists Jimmy Johnson, Big Time Sara and Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows. He recorded and toured with jazz pianist Ben Sidran for eight years. He later moved to Florida, formed the R&B Connection, met guitarist Steve Usher and formed the Tropical Jazz Quartet — which was the opening act for Spyro Gyra, among others. He moved to St. Croix two years ago and soon after formed the versatile band Tuff Enuff.
Valentine grew up in New York City, playing bongos from the age of 10. He worked with various musicians around the city gaining experience and confidence, then later moved to Cleveland, where he played timbales in salsa band. After moving to Florida, he, too, met guitarist Steve Usher and was part of the Tropical Jazz Quartet for eight years. A move to St. Croix brought a reunion with his longtime road buddy, Gary Zappa, an a place in Tuff Enuff.
Ronnie Russell taught himself to play guitar as a youngster on St. Croix. He was playing professionally by the time he was a Central High School student. He majored in chemistry and minored in music at the then-College of the Virgin Islands, then earned a second B.A. degree, in music, from Rutgers University. Returning to St. Croix, he taught in the school system and influenced the course of many young peoples' musical careers. He was instrumental in the development of the band Onyx and was co-founder of Basic Design and Gemini II.
Edwin "Eddie" Russell was playing professionally at age 15. He formed his first group, Eddie and The Playboys, on St. Croix in 1964. He earned his B.A. in music from the City College of New York and his master's from Queens College. He has collaborated with some of the top names in the business including Wynton Marsalis, The Mighty Sparrow, and Sam and Dave. A jazz trumpeter proud of his African-American heritage, he says he is grateful for being able to express himself "through the wonderful art form of jazz music."
The Frederiksted Economic Development Association presents "Sunset Jazz in Frederiksted" concerts on the third Friday of each month. Next up, on June 21, is one featuring jazz singer Claudette "Adjoa" Young-Hinds. For more information, call 719-3672 or 772-4000, or e-mail to Sunset Jazz.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.