March 20, 2004 – Choice Communications Jazz @ Coral World closes out its premiere season of concerts under the stars in the marine park amphitheater on Friday night with a performance by The Jeff Medina Group.
The combo consists of Medina on guitar and vocals, St. Thomas piano stalwart Dennis Frett on keyboards, Danny Silver on synthesizer, Les Burnside on bass and Louis Isaac on drums. Jazz aficionados can look forward to an evening of traditional standards with a modern dynamic.
Like the other Coral World jazz concerts, this one is scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m. — with the relatively early hour intended as an enticement to young people interested in music
Medina, a native of Trinidad and Tobago who currently calls St. John home, has made his mark musically and internationally not only as a performing artist but as a composer, arranger, musical director, producer and guitar instructor.
He has appeared at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the North Sea Jazz Festival in Amsterdam and the Atlantic Jazz Festival in London and on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall. He has toured the Americas with Prince, The Commodores, Parliament-Funkadelic and Run-DMC and has performed with jazz luminaries Stanley Turrentine, Donald Byrd, Roy Haynes and Jon Lucien. And he has worked with Laura Branigan, The Main Ingredients, Ralph McDonald and Evelyn "Champagne" King.
He was musical director for a national touring company of the award-winning Broadway hit "The Wiz" and had the same assignment for "Roots/Crossroutes," the original music, dance and storytelling work commissioned by the Reichhold Center for the Arts and premiered on its stage in 1998.
He has worked at Disney World and on cruise ships throughout the Caribbean and North America, and he is a guitar instructor specializing in the "two-hand touch" technique in which both hands are used on the fret-board, piano style.
His calypso recording credits include co-producing "Hot Hot Hot," described on his Web site as "the best-selling calypso record of all time," and recording with the Mighty Sparrow, Shadow and Lord Nelson. In the jazz area, his has done session work with Ralph McDonald and Eric Gale and has released two self-produced CDs, "You Got It" and "Carock," consisting mostly of his own compositions. And according to his Web site, he's got another release coming out "soon."
Medina made his initial move to the territory about 35 years ago, to St. Thomas, where he played for a few years with Milo and the Kings. Then he headed to New York, where he studied at the Jazz Mobile. His guitar training also included study at The Classical Guitar Institute and with calypso master guitarist Cyril Grenidge in Trinidad. He studied arranging, composing and improvisation at the Berklee School of Music in Boston.
Among his musical influences he counts jazz superstars John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, Wes Montgomery and Charlie Parker; Afro-Latin rock guitarist Carlos Santana and classical legend Andres Segovia.
These days he promotes himself as a "Virgin Islands-based Calypso music specialist, entertainer, guitarist, musical director, performer, composer, musician, producer, instructor and music arranger."
So what, you might wonder, has enticed Medina to settle now on St. John? Good question to put to him Friday night. But you might find a clue on the "Schedule" page of his Web site.
Tickets for Friday's Choice Communications Jazz @ Coral World concert are $15 for general admission and $5 for students, with no advance sales. The Coral World gates will open at 6:30 p.m., and the marine park exhibitions will be open until 8 p.m. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. As with the other concerts in the series, proceeds from the event will benefit the Jazz Arts Virgin Islands Inc. Scholarship Fund.
In addition to major sponsorship by Choice Communications, the jazz series has received support from Cruzan Rum, Diane Russell, Elizabeth Jane's, Jazz Arts Virgin Islands, Perfection at Coki Beach, Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina, The Silver Source at American Yacht Harbor, and Virgin Islands Ear, Nose and Throat.
For further details about the concert, send an e-mail to Jazz Arts V.I. or call Willard Fields at 775-1404. For more information about the marine attraction, visit the Coral World Web site.
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