Published On: Fri, Feb 25th, 2011

Boca Raton well on its way to becoming a mecca for contemporary jazz

The “Royal Palm Place Jazz Concert Series”, which kicked off in November with a stellar performance by Urban Gypsy and headliner Marc Antoine, and was followed in December by a performance by the legendary Jeff Kashiwa, is clearly bringing electrifying talent to Boca Raton!  One would think it couldn’t get any better, but the music keeps coming and the response keeps growing and growing.  Boca Raton is clearly well on its way to becoming a mecca for contemporary jazz, drawing a wealth of mega-talented musicians from around the country.

This jazz series was created by Jacqui Wyatt, Director of Marketing for Investments Limited, and helping her bring it all together has been none other than Steve Butler, CEO of Mighty Music Corp. in New York, who is responsible for the fabulous talent lineup.  Not wanting to be constrained by the weather, and it has been a little cold this winter, Jacqui decided to team up with the owners of Club 303 at Royal Palm Place to bring the performances indoors.  Great move!  Club 303 is an intimate venue just perfect for concerts such as these, and offers guests a full bar, food menu, and great atmosphere.

January 15th brought us Matt Marshak, a unique performer with a sound that blends jazz, funk, soul, blues, chill, world music, and neo-soul.  He has opened for and shared the festival stage with artists such as Spyro Gyra, Richard Bona, Dave Koz, Eric, Earl Klugh, Stanley Jordan, and Nick Colionne among other greats. He has also headlined his own shows in the USA and Europe.  Marshak also enjoys giving back. He is a supporter of multiple sclerosis and autism awareness, and is also a seasoned educator and spokesperson for children’s music. Matt visits countless schools every year exposing kids of all ages to jazz, blues, pop, rock, world music. His program “jazz it up” has received high praise from schools, administrators, teachers, parents and students alike.

On February 12th, Paul “Shilts” Weimar and Nate Najar blew into town accompanied by none other than Third Richardson (drums), Tim George (bass guitar) and BeeBoisseau (keyboards).  Both Third and Tim, by the way, had already performed with Matt Marshak at the January concert and are so highly thought of that they were hand-picked by Shilts and Nate Najar to join them for this gig, as was Bee.  To say they all “rocked the house” would be putting it mildly, to say the least, and the photos here (taken by local world-renowned photographer David Pearlman) really tell the story.

Let’s start with “Shilts”, who flew in from LA.  What do you get when you combine unforgettable hooks and atomic energy? You get a sound that is fresh, unique and totally Shilts.  Paul “Shilts” Weimar originally hails from London, England and has been playing saxophone since his early teens. His career has spanned all forms of jazz, soul, rock and pop music. He has toured all over the world and performed with a host of international artists, such as The Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Rick Braun, Jeff Lorber, Peter White and many more.  In September of 2010, Shilts released his latest CD, Going Underground, which is truly his best collection of music to date and has been categorized as one of the most funky and groovy sax releases of 2010.  Seeing him in person, you can just feel that he plays sax very passionately, and with a sense of romance.

In the fall of 2009, Nate Najar and his band took the stage at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday near his Tampa area home in front of thousands of contemporary jazz fans who thought they were just going to be killing time with a support act before headliner Al Jarreau. Instead, the versatile guitarist electrified the crowd and had everyone wondering, “Who is this guy? Where has he been? And where can I get a CD?”  The 28-year-old Najar brought to that performance an incredible history in the traditional jazz world, leading the Nate Najar Trio everywhere from Washington D.C.’s Blues Alley to the Kennedy Center, where he performed as part of a show dedicated to the jazz history of D.C. led by Dr. Billy Taylor.  2010 was an exciting breakout year for him in contemporary jazz circles. His CD, Until Now, had a grooving, in the pocket debut single “It’s A Good Day” hit the Top 40 on the www.smoothjazz.com charts.  This guy is just fabulous!

Representing the Tampa Bay area, Third Richardson is definitely making some noise on the Smooth Jazz Scene!  Blending Jazz, R&B, Gospel and Rock, Third’s sound is unique and refreshing.  He has come a long way since he began playing the drums in church at the age of three. His unbounded talent has taken him all over the world and allowed him to share the stage with greats such as Euge Groove, Jeff Kashiwa, Jackiem Joyner, Jessy J, Eric Darius, Nick Colionne, Boney James, Marc Antoine, Marion Meadows, 480 East, Paul Taylor, Brian Simpson, Nils, Bobby Lyle and Jeff Lorber, just to name a few.  His drum solos at these Boca concerts were nothing short of mesmerizing and had the crowds in awe.

Hailing from St. Petersburg, Tim George plays the funkiest bass guitar we’ve heard in ages.  Tim has recorded and performed with the likes of Ray Charles, Mel Torme, Louis Bellson, Ed Shaughnessy, Kinesis, Jeff Kashiwa, Steve Cole, Kim Waters, Eric Darius, Jeff Golub, Peter White, Brian Simpson, Matt Marshak and more.  He is a four-time winner of the prestigious National Association of Jazz Educators Outstanding Musician Award and, after being a middle school band director for 10 years, has been a public school elementary music teacher since 1985.  He can play everything from EWF to Cheap Trick to Beastie Boys to Bell Biv Devoe to Nelly to Usher to Snoop Dogg to Fifty Cent to Audioslave to Zepplin to Dave Matthews to Def Leppard to Salsa artists.  If anyone thinks “age” enters into this picture, forget it!  If it grooves hard, Tim is “in”.

Rounding out the picture is the one and only Bee Boisseau.  Affectionately referred to by his peers as “BeeBoi”, he flew in from Denver for this gig and we’re sure glad he did.  Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia’s south side, Bee Boisseau is a man of music and a man of God.  A local legend and internationally acclaimed musician, Bee has been blessed to play and/or record with the likes of Jackiem Joyner (who is coming to Boca in April), Blake Aaron, Michael Lington, U-Nam, Will Donato, Nils, Levi Little of Blackstreet, Warren Hill, Ray Parker Jr., Matt Marshak, Marion Meadows, Paul Taylor, Michael Lichton, Jay Soto, Keith Staten, Craig Hayes, Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers, and many more.

So, just how “hot” was the most recent concert?  Well, let’s put it this way, one very attractive young lady in the audience was heard to remark to her friend, “Oh my God, this is better than sex!”  Enough said?  We think so!

The next concert in the series will be on Friday, March 18th, featuring Brian Simpson who has toured with some of the greats, including Dave Koz, Janet Jackson, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Larry Carlton, George Howard, Billy Cobham, and Gerald Albright.

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