Feb. 11, 2004 – Steve Simon presents the last Jazz in the Moonlight concert of the season on St. John this Saturday night — a Valentine's Day "Special Tribute to Love."
Smooth jazz/rhythm 'n' blues saxophonist Kim Waters is the headliner, playing with his band. Gospel-inspired R&B vocalist Maryel Epps and her band are also featured.
Soul, rhythm 'n' blues, traditional jazz and contemporary jazz are all an integral part of Waters' background and music. He has played with a diversity of musical stars — from new jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley to Isaac Hayes, from the late vocalist Phyllis Hyman to pianist Cyrus Chestnut.
And, according to a Web site, "the connecting thread in all of this is evoked by one word from Kim: melody."
What love's got to do with it seems to be quite a bit, too. Of Waters' 14 albums to date, romantic titles definitely dominate. He actually has a CD titled "Sax Appeal" — granted, an early one, his third, released in 1991. The love-ly issues: "It's Time for Love" (1994), "Love's Melody" (1998), "From the Heart" (2001), and his most recent, "Someone to Love You" (2002), which hit Billboard's Top 5 for contemporary jazz and is still a popular album.
And scheduled for release on April 27 is yet another — "In the Name of Love."
Born into a musical family in Maryland, Waters started playing the violin at the age of 9 and at 13 found his way to alto and soprano sax. From the start, his comfort zone embraced both the jazz and R&B formats. He and a childhood friend collaborated, sometimes playing jazz, sometimes playing in a group backing a hotel lounge act.
After he and two brothers formed a band called Phase, Waters resolved to pursue a full-time career in music. He landed a record deal and in 1989 made "Sweet and Saxy," which — remarkably for a debut album — sold into six figures. "Although his technical mastery, especially on soprano sax, allows him to play in a more forceful jazz-orientated mode, Waters' chosen milieu has earned him great commercial success," a Web site states.
His eight albums on the Warlock label were R&B centered. When he moved to Shanachie, he also made the move into contemporary jazz where his airplay, sales and in-person performances have found a fast-growing fan base.
In concert, according to Internet biographies, "he can croon a sultry ballad, rev up a soulful dance number, thrill both straight-ahead and contemporary jazz fans, and get downright funky with the best."
On tour, publicity states, "he is a crowd pleaser, giving the audience a wonderful experience through his cool stage presence and awesome sets filled with songs so popular that the fans recognize them within the first few notes."
Maryel Epps, also known as "Diva Angel," is an acclaimed singer, songwriter and actress based in the Miami area who made her mark in New York with a Gospel Brunch at Lola Restaurant. She also has performed with such music greats such as Billy Taylor, Bob Dylan, Chaka Khan, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Lilo Thomas and Patti Labelle.
She'll be singing on St. John with her gospel-inspired R&B band.
Tickets, time and place
Saturday's concert takes place on the beach at the Westin Resort, starting at 8 p.m., and for the first time, Jazz in the Moonlight is going the advance purchase vs. "more at the door" route. Tickets are $20 now at Chelsea Drugs and Connections on St. John, and at the Havensight Modern Music shop on St. Thomas. Saturday night, they'll be $25 at the resort. (That's for anyone age 18 or older. Those under 18 will be admitted free.)
For more about the Jazz in the Moonlight series and the 2nd annual St. John Blues Festival coming up the first week of March, visit the Jazz in the Moonlight Web site, send an e-mail to Steve Simon or call him at 693-8120.
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