Sax star Eric Darius: Opening students' eyes to jazz
The tween and teens start hollering even before Eric Darius takes the stage. They scream when they learn that the jazz saxophonist is from Tampa. They shout again because he graduated from Blake High and once more because he has played with artists like Prince.
But when the bassline of Usher's O.M.G. rumbles the wooden gymnasium bleachers, the middle schoolers turn to look at each other. They are in shock, but they still manage to shriek.
Darius wanted to prove to 400 students at Progress Village Middle Magnet last week that jazz is not just for old people. Jazz is not elevator music. Jazz is not music to fall asleep to.
"I think I kind of opened up their ears and their eyes," Darius said after his Progress Village performance. "I'm just trying to give some of myself to them."
While on his nationwide tour, Darius visits schools to address music education and appreciation. His hometown kick-off continued with a visit to Orange Grove Middle Magnet on Wednesday, and he has scheduled an appearance at Blake for early next week.