78.5 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesSUNDAY'S THE 'LAST JAM' FOR SAX CYMBALS

SUNDAY'S THE 'LAST JAM' FOR SAX CYMBALS

Oct. 25, 2001 – On Sunday night, the Sax Cymbals will be playing at the Hard Rock Cafe. They've been doing that, off and on, for years. What's news is that they won't be doing it again — at least not anytime soon.
That's because band leader and founder Anthony (does anybody call him Anthony?) "Rusty" Vellek will be getting on a jet plane a few days later to leave St. Thomas after 18 years of calling the Virgin Islands home.
It's an affair of the heart — both the leaving and the going — he says.
As Sally Smith — the fourth or fifth member of his "trio," depending on who's counting — puts it, "He and an old friend reconnected by a wild fluke, and the relationship has developed to the point where he and she are now a 'they' also."
Her name is Mimi and he'll be joining her in Alexandria, Va., outside of Washington, D.C.
They knew each other more than 25 years ago, when he was living in the nation's capital. "We had lost contact after I moved here," he says, but last year he went to D.C. for training for Chase Manhattan Bank, his daytime employer, "and ended up in a class with one of her employees, who passed along my phone number and e-mail address."
They got together when he went north again in February for the annual East Coast Jazz Festival in Rockville, Md., and from then on, the e-mails flowed regularly.
Early on in the e-mail era, Vellek developed a network to keep friends and fans informed of upcoming gigs. And so, that's how he let a lot of people know about Sunday's "last jam" for the Sax Cymbals at Hard Rock.
"This one is special," his e-mail sent out Tuesday begins, explaining that on Sunday at 7 p.m. the band "will give our last St. Thomas performance — at least for now." Sticking with his standard way of referring to the ensemble, he adds that "the five-piece trio will be performing — Sally Smith on piano, Rhett Simmonds on bass, Dean Prince on percussion, Robert Luke helping out with bongos and chimes, and Rusty on sax.
"We expect a number of friends to drop by and sit in, too."
In the message he also expresses thanks to general manager Stephen Danesi and the staff at the Hard Rock, noting, "They've promised to see that there's plenty of food and beverages for everyone, and we expect a great party … Hard Rock has become something of a home base for Sax Cymbals, and we appreciate their support and hospitality."
Danesi said Thursday night that the feeling is mutual, and the regular dinner menu will be available.
Smith, a relative newcomer to the band, says Vellek "has been a fixture on the St. Thomas music scene and has been a promoter of live music here, period, whether others' or his own." They met professionally several years ago as volunteers — both enlisted to do a Rotary East fundraiser event for Eudora Kean High School, she recalls. "After that, he said, 'You want a job?'" About the same time, radio personality and funny man Luke came aboard as a percussive presence.
The Sax Cymbals has been a duo — it started out seven years ago with Vellek and Prince, literally playing sax and cymbals — as well as a trio, a quartet, a quintet and a "quintet and friends." Vellek approached Simmonds, a veteran bass player, early on about making it a trio. "One of the things that impressed me with the group is that Rusty has a very wide repertoire," Simmonds says. "He plays a lot of material that other people haven't been playing within the jazz areas."
While Prince was otherwise involved, the trio added Louis Isaacs, "becoming a four-piece trio when Dean was available," Vellek relates. "Roy Malone played with us for a while before his illness and eventual death, and Sally joined up about five years ago. Robert started sitting in a while back for kicks, and he added such a good spirit and energy that we kept him around (besides, he's my kid brother, so it keeps it in the family, so to speak)."
Home base for some time was the shoreline restaurant at Secret Harbor Beach Resort, where "we did a number of beach parties — including the ones for the Norway Jazz Cruises for several years running," he adds. "Our last big bash there was after Marilyn, when we put on the first live music after she blew through."
Vellek promoted the Sax Cymbals sound as "mellow music at a reasonable volume level."
Smith says she'll miss Vellek not just for his music but for "his good sense of humor. That sounds so trite. But he's one of the decent folk — and bright and funny."
Simmonds' first comment about the band breaking up was "Things happen." But then he added, "I've worked with lots of different groups. In this one, we've had a good run. It was a lot of fun, working with a lot of different people."
Smith and Simmonds both let out in separate conversations that Sunday will not really be the end. Vellek already has planned a reunion for next February's East Coast Jazz Festival.
But if you want to catch the five-piece trio and friends, Sunday night's the time and Hard Rock's the place.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,722FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
Oct. 25, 2001 - On Sunday night, the Sax Cymbals will be playing at the Hard Rock Cafe. They've been doing that, off and on, for years. What's news is that they won't be doing it again -- at least not anytime soon.
That's because band leader and founder Anthony (does anybody call him Anthony?) "Rusty" Vellek will be getting on a jet plane a few days later to leave St. Thomas after 18 years of calling the Virgin Islands home.
It's an affair of the heart -- both the leaving and the going -- he says.
As Sally Smith -- the fourth or fifth member of his "trio," depending on who's counting -- puts it, "He and an old friend reconnected by a wild fluke, and the relationship has developed to the point where he and she are now a 'they' also."
Her name is Mimi and he'll be joining her in Alexandria, Va., outside of Washington, D.C.
They knew each other more than 25 years ago, when he was living in the nation's capital. "We had lost contact after I moved here," he says, but last year he went to D.C. for training for Chase Manhattan Bank, his daytime employer, "and ended up in a class with one of her employees, who passed along my phone number and e-mail address."
They got together when he went north again in February for the annual East Coast Jazz Festival in Rockville, Md., and from then on, the e-mails flowed regularly.
Early on in the e-mail era, Vellek developed a network to keep friends and fans informed of upcoming gigs. And so, that's how he let a lot of people know about Sunday's "last jam" for the Sax Cymbals at Hard Rock.
"This one is special," his e-mail sent out Tuesday begins, explaining that on Sunday at 7 p.m. the band "will give our last St. Thomas performance -- at least for now." Sticking with his standard way of referring to the ensemble, he adds that "the five-piece trio will be performing -- Sally Smith on piano, Rhett Simmonds on bass, Dean Prince on percussion, Robert Luke helping out with bongos and chimes, and Rusty on sax.
"We expect a number of friends to drop by and sit in, too."
In the message he also expresses thanks to general manager Stephen Danesi and the staff at the Hard Rock, noting, "They've promised to see that there's plenty of food and beverages for everyone, and we expect a great party ... Hard Rock has become something of a home base for Sax Cymbals, and we appreciate their support and hospitality."
Danesi said Thursday night that the feeling is mutual, and the regular dinner menu will be available.
Smith, a relative newcomer to the band, says Vellek "has been a fixture on the St. Thomas music scene and has been a promoter of live music here, period, whether others' or his own." They met professionally several years ago as volunteers -- both enlisted to do a Rotary East fundraiser event for Eudora Kean High School, she recalls. "After that, he said, 'You want a job?'" About the same time, radio personality and funny man Luke came aboard as a percussive presence.
The Sax Cymbals has been a duo -- it started out seven years ago with Vellek and Prince, literally playing sax and cymbals -- as well as a trio, a quartet, a quintet and a "quintet and friends." Vellek approached Simmonds, a veteran bass player, early on about making it a trio. "One of the things that impressed me with the group is that Rusty has a very wide repertoire," Simmonds says. "He plays a lot of material that other people haven't been playing within the jazz areas."
While Prince was otherwise involved, the trio added Louis Isaacs, "becoming a four-piece trio when Dean was available," Vellek relates. "Roy Malone played with us for a while before his illness and eventual death, and Sally joined up about five years ago. Robert started sitting in a while back for kicks, and he added such a good spirit and energy that we kept him around (besides, he's my kid brother, so it keeps it in the family, so to speak)."
Home base for some time was the shoreline restaurant at Secret Harbor Beach Resort, where "we did a number of beach parties -- including the ones for the Norway Jazz Cruises for several years running," he adds. "Our last big bash there was after Marilyn, when we put on the first live music after she blew through."
Vellek promoted the Sax Cymbals sound as "mellow music at a reasonable volume level."
Smith says she'll miss Vellek not just for his music but for "his good sense of humor. That sounds so trite. But he's one of the decent folk -- and bright and funny."
Simmonds' first comment about the band breaking up was "Things happen." But then he added, "I've worked with lots of different groups. In this one, we've had a good run. It was a lot of fun, working with a lot of different people."
Smith and Simmonds both let out in separate conversations that Sunday will not really be the end. Vellek already has planned a reunion for next February's East Coast Jazz Festival.
But if you want to catch the five-piece trio and friends, Sunday night's the time and Hard Rock's the place.