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Success with a sax

Eric Darius has played the alto sax since he was 10 and hopes to attend the Julliard School of Music in New York next year.

Good things are continuing to happen for saxophone virtuoso Eric Darius, the Lutz teen who has been wowing audiences at local night spots with his musical expertise.

His most recent accomplishment? A CD that hit the record stores earlier this month.

"It's like a rollercoaster ride, there's so much excitement," said 18-year-old Eric, who is completing his senior year at Blake High School, Tampa's magnet school for the performing arts. "I've worked hard, and it's starting to pay off."

Eric wrote the first five songs on Crusin', which was produced by his father, Serge Darius, and took about 15 months to complete.

"I'm his producer, manager and sound man," said Darius, who also works as a machinist. "He'll never find another producer like me."

Eric, who has been playing his alto sax since he was 10, lives with his family in Windmere in Lutz. Next year he hopes to attend the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

Eric performs Saturday nights at the French Hen, a restaurant in Bellair Bluffs, and has been a regular at other local night spots such as the Cino Grille, The Fox and Cafe Creole.

This summer he'll tour Europe as part of the National Honor Band, a group culled from a recent band competition in Indiana.

Despite the gigs, Eric said, "sometimes I have a lot of time. Some weeks are laid back and I can hang out with my friends."

Crusin', which was released at Tampa's Rain Lounge in early December, is available at several outlets, including Sam Goody, Barnes & Noble, Borders, University Square Mall, Sound Exchange and Showcase Music in Brandon.

_ Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 226-3468 or