April 14, 3004 – Acclaimed saxophonist "Smooth" Joe Johnson makes his St. Croix debut at Island Center on Saturday night in the first of a monthly series of jazz concerts that will continue into July.
Hailing from Memphis, this smooth southern sax player will be serving up a creative repertoire of R&B and jazz tunes. Concert goers can look forward to hard-hitting grooves, soulful slow jams and funky jazz interpretations.
Johnson started on the road to jazz distinction at an early age, playing in his high school music program and with his church choir. Raised on R&B, gospel and Memphis blues, he counts Charlie Parker, Hank Crawford, David Sanborn and Kirk Whalum among his early influences.
His mastery of the saxophone evolved in Nashville, where he worked as a session player during the day and played R&B and jazz at night in some of the city's most illustrious nightspots. His widening appeal and acceptance brought opportunities to perform with some of the top names in jazz.
Music aficionados of all ages will appreciate the Smooth Joe style. Johnson says his purpose and dream are to bridge the different worlds of music and bring them together. He wants to gain the attention of hip hoppers, keep the contemporary jazz lovers close, and never lose the R&B fans of old. And it's possible for them all to meet on his musical bridge when he and his band play. Fans are sure his signature style will stand the test of time.
Johnson's musical talents also are on display in more than 300 commercials he has done for products including Taco Bell, Target, Miller Lite and Ford Motor Co. And he has written new music for a show on UPN.
Opening Saturday's concert will be St. Croix's own Eddie Russell Quintet. Trumpeter Russell, who's also headlining Friday's Sunset Jazz in Frederiksted concert, has collaborated with such music legends as Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Garrison, James Moody and the Mighty Sparrow. He also is a prolific composer and a music teacher.
Details of the three other Island Center jazz concerts to come will be announced later.
Saturday's concert is to begin at 8 p.m. The Island Center doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20; they're available in advance at Pier 69, Sylvia's Cards & Gift Shop, Morning Glory and the Island Center box office and also will be sold Saturday night.
For more information, call 778-5271 or 690-0617.
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