Dec. 21, 2003 – A new series of monthly jazz concerts at Coral World on St. Thomas will kick off on Jan. 3 with the spotlight on R.C. and Company — pianist Roan Creque and his band.
The concerts under the stars in the Coral World amphitheater are being presented by a not-for-profit group, Jazz Arts Virgin Islands Inc., as the Choice Communications Jazz @ Coral World Series.
For broad-based audience exposure, it's a homecoming of sorts for Creque — a career Public Works solid waste management employee by day who has long been a fixture by night on the St. Thomas jazz scene — and his band.
On Nov 30 of last year, they were showcased on St. John in the second Jazz in the Moonlight concert, held on the beach at the Westin Resort with guest artists Dion Parson on drums and Bill Saxton on sax.
And just last Friday, they performed on St. Croix for Sunset Jazz in Frederiksted, marking the second anniversary of the family-oriented outdoor concerts held in a park on the Frederiksted waterfront on the third Friday of each month.
Creque, a St. Thomian with more than half a century of experience in the music business, has played piano and keyboards with such jazz luminaries as Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and Virgin Islanders Jon Lucien, Ron Blake and Parson. His style blends improvisation with an infusion of Brazilian rhythms.
The "Company" consists of three well-known St. Thomas jazz figures — Charles Lynch Jr. on drums, Vince Wallace Jr. on bass and Herman Lynch Sr. on congas.
Jazz Arts Virgin Islands was incorporated earlier this year as a not-for-profit corporation by three resident jazz authorities — businesswoman/vocalist Claudette "Adjoa" Young-Hinds, trumpeter/music educator Marcus Rabb and promoter Willard Fields. Its purposes are:
– To provide concerts, lecture-demonstrations and other events to further the understanding and appreciation of jazz music and history.
– To recognize exceptional work in jazz education, study and performance through awards, scholarships and other means.
– To develop and implement workshops, retreats and activities to foster exchanges between professional and aspiring jazz musicians.
– To research, document and disseminate information on the artistic, cultural and historic accomplishments of jazz musicians of Virgin Islands/Caribbean origin.
According to Fields, JAVI's general manager, the planned series of concerts featuring jazz artists from throughout the territory and around the world, is targeted to reach a wide audience, including young people.
"Jazz has mostly been presented in bars or in restaurant/bar settings where sessions sometimes go on until the wee hours of the morning," Fields notes. "This approach makes it extremely difficult for young people, especially young aspiring musicians, to be exposed to live jazz. We thought Coral World would be the perfect place for everyone to come and also the perfect place to expose the next generation of jazz musicians and jazz lovers to world-class jazz."
Although the first concert is on a Saturday, all of the others will be on Fridays. The lineup looks like this:
Jan. 23 — Boston saxophonist and Cadence recording artist Joel Press performing with the Vin Phillip Quartet.
Feb. 27 — "The Trumpet Summit" showcasing the talents of St. Croix trumpeters Eddie Russell and Marcus Rabb.
March 26 — The Jeff Medina Group, an ensemble led by local guitarist Medina that gives a modern edge to traditional jazz standards.
All concerts will begin at 7 p.m. and go until approximately 10 p.m. The Coral World gates will open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $15 for the general public and $5 for students, with no advance ticket sales. Food and drink will be available for purchase.
According to Fields, proceeds from the Choice Communications Jazz @ Coral World series will benefit the Jazz Arts Virgin Islands Scholarship Fund. Next spring, JAVI will award scholarships to three graduating high school music students — one each St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John — planning pursue jazz studies at college.
"JAVI is also planning a concert that will showcase the talents of these scholarship awardees playing with some of the top jazz musicians in the territory before they go off to college," he said.
Cornelius Prior, chair of Choice Communications, said that "Choice welcomes this opportunity to make high-quality jazz accessible for families, and especially young people with an interest in this music."
The series is also made possible in part by contributions from Cruzan Rum, attorney and musician Diane M. Russell, Elizabeth Janes, The Silver Source at American Yacht Harbor and Perfection Beach Equipment Rentals at Coki Point Beach.
Additional sponsorships are invited, as is advertising in the concert series program booklet. For more information, contact Fields by e-mailing to Jazz Arts VI or calling 775-1404.
For information about the marine attraction, visit the Coral World Web site.
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