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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 22, 2024


Sept. 14, 2003 – September's Sunset Jazz concert, this Friday at Veterans Park on the Frederiksted waterfront, will showcase one of St. Croix's best-known bands of the day — Rhythmix.
The ensemble is led by bassist Mario Thomas and otherwise comprises his father, Scypio Thomas, on saxophone, Otto James on piano, Rene Encarnacion on congas and Bobby Richards on drums.
There'll be music from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and families with young children are welcome. If you're hoping to sit on one of the few park benches, plan on getting there plenty early. Otherwise, it's suggested you take folding chairs or a blanket to spread out on the grass.
As usual with Sunset Jazz events, the concert is free and so is the sunset, and you've got the option of buying food and drink. The Frederiksted Economic Development Association, which presents the monthly concerts, operates the beverage concession, and Hispanos Unidos sells food. Both not-for-profit groups put their proceeds to good use — F.E.D.A. to offset the expenses of producing the concert series and Hispanos Unidos for community outreach projects.
Mario Thomas, a St. Croix music educator, took up the bass at the age of 10, learning to play whatever was popular on the radio, and formed his own group, Together Root, in the ninth grade. He studied at the Military School of Music in Washington, D.C., and at Howard University, where he was a member of the Howard Jazz Septet. He has gigged with John Fadis, Louie Belson and Wynton Marsalis and was a mainstay in sax man Dave Yarborough's Jazz Band. He formed Rhythmix in 1990.
Alphonso "Scypio" Thomas played coronet and trombone before taking up the sax. His first band experience was at St. Patrick School playing for parish marches and processions. Soon after his friend Elmo James gave him a saxophone and told him to go home and practice, he began showing up at jam sessions around the island. He later formed his first band, the Vibratones. He has since played in Archie Thomas's band, filled in for Rudy Schulterbrandt while he was in New York, and been member of Sanora Santa Cruz.
Otto James grew up in a musical family and also credits trumpeter Eric David as a major early influence — along with the Latin music he heard on Puerto Rican radio stations as a youngster. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music and performed with top Latin bands in New York including Orchestra Tropicana. Upon his return to the territory, he joined forces with the crème de la crème of St. Croix's music scene — Archie Thomas, Mario De Chabert, Mario Moorhead, The Vibratones and Rudy Schulterbrandt.
Rene Encarnacion is known as a conga drummer/percussionist but also is an accomplished bass player. His first instrument was steelpan and his first formal music studies were at St. Croix's Seventh-day Adventist School. He founded and for more than a decade led Conjunto Topico de Santa Cruz and played in Sanora Santa Cruz. He also has worked with Tito Puente and top Latin American conga player Jovani.
No information was provided for drummer Bobby Richards.
Concertgoers are encouraged to stay in town afterwards and have dinner and/or take in some of the Frederiksted night life.
Sunset Jazz events are held on the third Friday of each month. Coming up on Oct. 17 will be Otto James and New Sound. For more information, e-mail Sunset Jazz or call 719-3672.
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