Feb. 21, 2004 – St. Croix's top brass will be in the spotlight for Friday's Choice Communications Jazz @ Coral World concert on St. Thomas — and that's strictly an artistic statement.
Dubbed "The Trumpet Summit," the program under the stars in the Coral World amphitheater will feature Eddie Russell and Marcus Rabb, both in the forefront of the St. Croix jazz scene.
Accompanying the two trumpeters will be St. Thomas's own accomplished jazz ensemble, the Louis Taylor Trio — Louis Taylor Jr. on piano, Vincent Wallace Jr. on bass and Curtis Griffin on drums.
The music starts at 7 p.m. and will end about three hours later. Jazz @ Coral World events are scheduled relatively early to make them attractive to families and young people with interest in the musical arts. As an added enticement, the Coral World Marine Park exhibits will remain open on Friday until 8 p.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.
Admission to the concert (which includes admission to the park) is $15 general admission and $5 for students. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Jazz Arts Virgin Islands Inc. Scholarship Fund.
About the musicians
Eddie Russell, a native Crucian, is from a musical family whose members also include his daughter, flautist (and lawyer) Diane Russell, and his brother, guitarist (and lawyer and senator) Ronald Russell. He began playing trumpet professionally at age 15, formed his first group, Eddie & The Playboys, in 1964, and then went on to earn an undergraduate degree in music from the City College of New York and his master's from Queens College.
Russell has played and studied with such music legends as Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Garrison, James Moody, The Mighty Sparrow and Sam & Dave. He can be heard on the "Mr. Bow Tie" CD of jazz bass master Ron Carter. He also is a prolific composer and a music educator.
Marcus Rabb, a native of Baltimore, began music studies a young age and was playing trumpet in area jazz bands by the time he entered high school. He received a full music scholarship to Howard University, where he honed his career as a performer and composer and earned his master's degree. On a fellowship he studied chamber music at the American Conservatory of Music in Fountainebleau, France.
Rabb has performed with such top jazz luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Milt Jackson and Joe Henderson and is also a noted composer and arranger. He settled on St. Croix in 1997 to pursue a career in music education; he currently is on the Country Day School faculty and also teaches privately. On the performance side, he leads the Marcus Rabb Quartet and is a member of VI Art Ensemble.
Louis Taylor Jr., a graduate of Charlotte Amalie High School, studied piano as a youth on St. Thomas then attended Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he was principal pianist with the CSU Jazz Ensemble, and graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he was principal pianist with the TSU Jazz Band.
He performed with the Cincinnati and Indianapolis symphonies and at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival in the 1970s and at the premiere Virgin Islands Jazz Festival in 1987. For more than two decades he has taught music at the elementary and junior high school level on St. Thomas and has been much in demand at top night spots on St. Thomas and St. John as both piano soloist and leader of the Louis Taylor Trio.
Vince Wallace, a native St. Thomian, took up music as a youngster, around the age of 10 learning the theme from "Exodus" and the changes to calypso music. He taught himself to play percussion but chose to make the bass guitar his main instrument. He received a degree in architecture from Tuskegee University, where he sang in the gospel choir.
In his diverse career, Wallace has worked with such acclaimed musicians as Johnny Taylor, Ron Blake, Dion Parson, Peabo Bryson, Frank Foster and Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith. He composed several scores for the PBS series "Zoom" and has a book titled "Extracts Caribbean in Nature" nearing release.
Curtis Griffin, a native Crucian, began his music studies at an early age. In the seventh grade he studied percussion under Dr. Felipe Garcia. He began his jazz studies as a high school junior with the legendary Jimmy Hamilton and with Greg Richter, then went on to study music at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.
Griffin has performed with jazz artists Richie Cole and Gary Bartz, among others. After a hiatus of about 13 years, he is back performing on the St. Thomas music scene.
One more jazz event to come
The final concert in the Choice Communications Jazz @ Coral World series is scheduled for March 26. It will showcase The Jeff Medina Group, which adds a modern dynamic to traditional jazz standards.
In addition to primary sponsorship by Choice Communications, the series is made possible in part by Cruzan Rum, Diane Russell, Elizabeth Jane's, Jazz Arts Virgin Islands Inc., Perfection at Coki Beach, Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina, The Silver Source at American Yacht Harbor, and Virgin Islands Ear, Nose and Throat.
For additional information about the concert series, send an e-mail to Jazz Arts V.I. or call Willard Fields at 775-1404. For more information about the marine park, visit the Coral World Web site, or call 775-1555.
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