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Christmas Music Festival: Eddie Russell

The Source is providing short feature stories on the musicians taking part in the St. John Christmas Music Festival. The lineup includes Nestor Torres, the Paoli Mejias Latin Jazz Quintet, and the Eddie Russell Quelbe Latin Jazz Dec. 16, Kim Waters and Maryel Epps Dec. 17, and St. John's Inner Visions Dec. 18. For more on these artists, go to the music section of the Source.
Eddie Russell
Known as "the heart and soul of Caribbean jazz," trumpeter Eddie Russell will play at the St. John Christmas Music Festival opening night, Dec. 16.
Russell is originally from St. Croix, and is widely thought of as one of the most talented jazz artists in the Caribbean. He has played with legends in jazz music, including James Moody, Jimmy Garrison, Wynton Marsalis.
Russell's career has spanned nearly four decades. He formed his first band, Eddie and the Playboys, at the age of 15 in 1964. Russell, now in his mid 50s, plays to standing-room-only crowds on St. Croix weekly, frequently at the Blue Moon Cafe in Fredericksted.
Russell's newest CD, "The Heart and Soul of Caribbean Jazz," was recorded live on St. John. It is scheduled for release in January 2006.
Russell leads his current band, The Eddie Russell Quelbe Jazz Band, on trumpet and vocals. Otto James joins him on keyboard, Larry Bough on drums and timbales, Gregory Bennerson on percussion and pans, Wilfred "Junie Bomba" Allick on congas and bongos and Mario Russell on bass. Eddie’s daughter Diane Russell is often a guest flautist with the band. Eddie’s brother Ronald Russell, a very talented Jazz guitarist and V.I. Senator, also joins the band frequently.
About the Festival
In an effort to bring the community together during the holiday season, concert producer and St. John resident Steve Simon, has organized the first St. John Christmas Music Festival.
Simon says he decided to organize the event at the suggestion of fellow St. John residents Ira Wade and Julien Harley.
The festival runs Dec. 16 through Dec. 18, with free music and events all three evenings at the Winston Wells Ballfield in Cruz Bay.
The event's sponsors are Donald Sussman, Premier Wine & Spirits, The Westin Resort and Villas, Holiday Homes, American Paradise Real Estate, Tropical Properties, Theodore Tunick and Co., First Bank, The Inn at Tamarind Court, and the Tourism Department.
For more on the St. John Christmas Music Festival, see "St. John's Christmas Will Be Filled With Music".

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