New Yorkers are in for a treat this weekend when Virgin Islands Grammy-winning jazz great, Dion Parson and the 21st Century Band perform at the Abyssinian Baptist Church Jazz Vespers Concert Series this Sunday, January 13 in Harlem.
Set to celebrate two of America’s historical personalities, the concert, supported by the US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, will showcase talented international musicians in a cultural setting.
The January 13 concert celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s upcoming holiday and President Barack Obama’s Inauguration (January 21) at Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 Odell Clark Place in Harlem at 4 p.m.
Tickets ($20 for the general public and $10 for seniors and students) are on sale at the church lobby store.
Dion Parson, born in St. Thomas, has been an integral part of the jazz scene in New York. His musical foundation ranges from classical, reggae, calypso, jazz, African, and pop music, while the 21st Century Band blends traditional jazz harmonies with Caribbean rhythms, creating a “a New Sound of the Caribbean”.
Dion’s first musical instrument was the trombone, which he traded for a set of drums at the age of 15. Dion drummed so well he was awarded a grant from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts to study at Interlochen Music Academy in Michigan. Upon returning home, he was selected to be the VI representative in the McDonald’s All-American High School Band to play Drums. Dion later attended Rutgers University in New Jersey in 1985, where he studied percussion with Keith Copeland and William Moersch, receiving his B.M. in Music Education in 1990. In 1994, Dion began studying with master drummer Michael Carvin, a
relationship he maintained for 18 years.
After graduation Dion moved to New York where he quickly became part of the jazz scene, playing and collaborating with such greats as the late Milt Jackson, Monty Alexander, fellow St. Thomas native Ron Blake, Terence Blanchard, Ernest Ranglin, Baaba Maal, Dianne Reeves, Bill Saxton, Steve Turre, Terell Stafford, and Branford Marsalis among others.
He has recorded for several major labels, including Columbia, Sony, Gramavision, Arabesque, Blue Note, High Note, Verve, Enja, Koch Records, Concord Records and Tahmun Records.
In 1998 Dion and Ron Blake co-founded 21st Century Band, which Dion leads, featuring the music and talent of their heritage: The United States Virgin Islands.
“We are honored to support this event and to back Dion Parson, Ron Blake and other talented Virgin Islanders and West Indians in the marketplace,” said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, USVI Commissioner of Tourism.
To promote travel to the USVI, the Department has organized a trip giveaway for a lucky concert-goer that includes a stay at the Frenchman’s Reef Marriott Resort as well as vouchers to spend on activities, attractions, dining, and shopping.