Oct. 13, 2003 – Over the last year and a half, St. John has become the "in" place to be for live jazz on three occasions — all Jazz in the Moonlight concerts presented by producer, composer, recording artist and island resident Steve Simon.
Now, Simon is offering fans and friends a way to keep their memories of the moonlight music alive in full fidelity: a CD recorded live at the performances.
Simon invites the public to come out to the Mongoose Junction courtyard on Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. to join him in celebrating the release of "The Best of Jazz in the Moonlight – Vol. I," which he says is the first jazz CD recorded live on the island of St. John.
"This amazing album is truly a tribute to everyone on St. John and St. Thomas who supported our first two seasons with their love and enthusiasm," he says.
It's dedicated to "Graeme Davis and the great staff at the Westin Resort, to Glenn Speer and all our friends at Mongoose Junction, and to everyone at Pirate Radio, and to Danny Silber, Michael Barry and Helen Simon … for helping make St. John the coolest place on Earth."
The album's 12 cuts: "The Road Less Traveled" and "My Romance" (Roan Creque and Company) "Gabrielle" and "Falling in Love with Love" (Sally Smith and Friends), "Loud-Zee," and "Timba Mabo" and "Remember Me" (Hilario Duran), "Morning" (Sambacombo), "The Lady Is a Tramp" (Marty Beechler), "The Look of Love" (Anna Tucker), "It's Impossible" (Adriana) and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (Steve Simon and Roan Creque)
But the gathering won't just to be to promote the new album — the proceeds from which will go to The Moonlight Foundation's scholarship program for The Coral Bay School. Simon will be joined by "some of the Virgin Islands' most gifted musicians and some surprise guests as they jam all night long," a release states.
Full bar service and light food will be available all evening, according to the release.
The season ahead on St. John
The 2003-04 Jazz in the Moonlight series of concerts kicks off on Nov. 29 with an evening of Latin jazz starring flautist Nestor Torres and his band plus Venezuelan vocalist Adriana performing with The Moonlight Orchestra featuring Cuban jazz legend Hilario Duran. Torres won a Latin Grammy in 2001 for his release "This Side of Paradise" and has received his third Grammy nomination for his latest CD, "Mi Alma Latina." Duran and Adriana were on island for performances last season.
On Feb. 14, a Love City Valentine's Day show will star smooth and sultry jazz saxophonist Kim Waters and his band plus singer Maryel Epps with her gospel-inspired rhythm 'n' blues band. Waters' 2002 release "Someone to Love You" is still up there on Billboard's contemporary jazz charts.
Both concerts will take place under the stars at the Westin St. John Resort beginning at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults; there's no charge for those under the age of 18.
Folks traveling from St. Thomas for the concerts can catch a ferry leaving Red Hook at about 7 p.m. for the Westin dock; it will return immediately after the concert. The fare is $5 each way.
And then there's the 2nd annual St. John Blues Festival, also presented by The Moonlight Foundation. It's set for March 6 beginning at 7 p.m. in Coral Bay. On tap is an evening of non-stop blues starring the legendary Dr. John with special guest artists from New Orleans, Nashville, Memphis and Chicago.
And coming to St. Croix…
This season, for the first time, Simon is taking one of his St. John shows over to St. Croix, too. The concert with Nestor Torres, Adriana and The Moonlight Orchestra will be repeated on Dec. 6 at Island Center for the Performing Arts. Show time is 8 p.m. and admission is $20. Tickets will go on sale Nov. 8 at Morning Glory Coffee and Tea, Pier 69, Victor Mencho and the Island Center box office.
A lot of jazz, a bit of blues
Simon produced his first St. John jazz show on June 22, 2002, in the courtyard at Mongoose Junction. It featured New York vocalists Rick MacLaine and Melissa Hamilton and St. John's own Marty Beechler singing with The Moonlight Orchestra. Oh, and by the way, it went on 'til around 2:30 a.m.
The second jazz concert, a showcase of Virgin Islands jazz artists, took place last Nov 30 on the beach at the Westin. Featured were pianist Roan Creque and his band R.C. and Company with Dion Parson on drums and Bill Saxton on sax, along with the Sally Smith Ensemble.
Last Dec. 28 brought the third jazz concert, again at the Westin, featuring Cuba's Hilario Duran with special guests Ernesto Simpson and Roberto Occhipinti, along with St. John's own Sambacombo.
And then came the premiere St. John Blues Festival, last March 1 in the Emmaus Moravian Church ball field. The free, all-night event featured country-blues artists Prestage and Hawkins, guitarist Albert Castiglia and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith.
For more information, check out the Jazz in the Moonlight Web site, send an e-mail to Jazz in the Moonlight or call Simon at 693-8120.
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