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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, February 25, 2024


Oct. 13, 2003 – Otto James and New Sound will deliver the sounds of Latin jazz at Friday's Sunset Jazz in Frederiksted concert in Veterans Park on the waterfront.
In addition to James on piano, the combo for Friday will comprise Marcus Rabb on trumpet, Dimitri "Pikey" Copemann on saxophone, Neil Simon on bass, Bobby Richards on drums and, in a rare public appearance, Harold Johnson on congas.
The music goes from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and families are welcome. Self-supplied folding chairs and blankets make for comfortable seating on the grass. The Frederiksted Economic Development Association, which presents the monthly concerts, will operate a cash bar (and put the beverage proceeds toward that end), and Hispanos Unidos will have food for sale.
James was strongly influenced as a youngster on St. Croix by the Latin Music he heard on Puerto Rican radio stations. He studied at the Manhattan School of Music and performed with some of the top Latin bands in New York, including Orchestra Tropicana. Upon his return to the territory, he joined forces with Archie Thomas, Mario De Chabert, Mario Moorehead, The Vibratones and Rudy Schulterbrandt. Today, when not fronting New Sound, he continues to play with other St. Croix jazz groups.
Rabb grew up in Baltimore and was playing trumpet in local jazz bands by the time he entered high school. He received a full music scholarship to Howard University, where he began his career as a performer and composer and earned his master's degree. He has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Milt Jackson and Joe Henderson. He studied chamber music at the American Conservatory of Music in Fountainbleau, France, on a fellowship. A St. Croix resident since 1997 he teaches music at Country Day School and privately.
Copemann, a self-taught saxophonist, fell in love with jazz in his Central High School days. He is a founder of the Native Rhythm Band and has performed with Jamesie and the Happy 7, Free Association and Taco and the Playboys. He has recorded with Joe Paris and the Hot Shots and King Derby and can be heard on the "Zoop Zoop" anthology with Paris as well as on the recent Rico and The Stars CD. He teaches art at Lew Muckel School and is a noted painter; and he is a poet whose work can be found in "Yellow Seed Is Blooming," an anthology of Virgin Islands poetry.
Simon took up the bass as a teen-ager at his father's prodding, playing in Frederiksted's Seventh-day Adventist Church. At 18, he played his first jazz gig with pianist Benjamin Jacobs-El. Simon has an architectural engineering degree from New York University. While in New York, he did a lot of commercials and toured with Freddie Jackson and Billy Ocean. Since returning to St. Croix in 1988, he has worked with trumpeter Duke Jones from Kid Creole and The Coconuts, among others. He can be heard on Jones's "Special Edition Collector's Album" and on the "Pier 69" CD.
No information was available on Richards or Johnson.
Crucian jazz fans may not realize it, but for the last six months or so, jazz fans on St. Thomas and St. John have been enjoying the performances held on the third Friday of each month, too: The territory's public television station, WTJX/Channel 12, records the Sunset Jazz concerts for broadcast in a series that airs at 8 p.m. on Saturdays.
Meanwhile, FEDA invites those who take in the concerts in person to stay downtown afterward for dinner or some sampling of the Frederiksted night life.
Finishing out the calendar year, Sunset Jazz in Frederiksted will feature The New Marcus Rabb Quartet on Nov. 21 and will celebrate its second anniversary on Dec. 19 with a performance by St. Thomas's Roan Creque and Friends.
For more information, e-mail to Sunset Jazz or call 772-0069.

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