Tampa talent headlines Saturday’s Encore Jazz Festival

Published December 5 2017
Updated December 7 2017

The term "smooth jazz" doesnít equate with a dancing good time, but saxophonist Marlon Boone insists thatís what will happen Saturday when he plays the Encore Holiday Jazz Festival.

Moving people out of their seats when the chords strike up for popular covers like Michael Jacksonís classic Rock With You or Maze featuring Frankie Beverlyís We are One is the reaction Boone will look for when he makes his third appearance at the event, hosted by JazzTyme Productions.

"Just to see that I have an impact on somebody with my music, thatís joyful to me," he said. "Thatís why I keep doing it."

Boone will share the stage with Nathan Mitchell, Lin Roundtree, Dee Lucas, and Jose Valentino at the annual festival, now in its third year.

Both Boone and Mitchell have become favorites with Encore attendees, said JazzTyme spokesman Ken Gray.

"They are definitely headlining talent," he said.

Booneís been grooving since he was a youngster growing up in a Pahokee home filled daily with the sounds of Grover Washington, Najee, Kirk Whalum, and other smooth jazz icons.

Encouraged to play by his father, also a saxophonist, Boone first picked up the clarinet but soon realized that itís more sophisticated woodwind cousin was more to his suiting.

Plus, saxophone players werenít teased as much as the clarinet players, he said.

"Itís an instrument with a little less bullying," he said.

Over the years, Boone improved on his musicianship and by senior year of high school had netted a scholarship to Bethune-Cookman University.

Boone said joining the Marching Wildcats was one of the best experiences of his life.

"I fell in love with everything about it," he said. "Itís so family-oriented. And thereís the bonding with bandmates and the togetherness."

Boone assumed leadership roles with the Wildcats but soon found himself feeling "boxed in" at the Daytona Beach school. A desire to spread his wings more led him to Florida State.

After college Boone formed City Groove, an R&B outfit that caught the attention of a record label. Soon, both the band and Boone had record deals.

The label threw its resources to the band and was in the midst of arranging a tour with big names when things suddenly fell apart.

Band members, impatient with the labelís pace, walked away. Having thrown its support and money behind the band, the label had little left to invest in Booneís solo project.

Boone was crushed but decided to forge ahead alone. He rebranded himself and focused on the smooth jazz genre.

But connecting to his audience wasnít easy thanks to the dearth of jazz radio stations nationwide.

"Smooth jazz without a market is tough," he said. "The radio market for it has dwindled to almost nothing."

So Boone took to social media to get his music out to the masses. Another viable outlet are the festivals he plays throughout the country, including Encore.

Boone is riding the wave of his growing fan base and will release his first full CD early next year.

The music is "expressions of me, from the heart," Boone said.

"I want feel good music," he added. "Thereís not a lot of feel good music out there."

Contact Kenya Woodard at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Also In This Section