Nov. 27, 2001 – The Elvis Pedro Quartet steps into the spotlight for December's Jazz Vespers performance, Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in the St. Croix Reformed Church in Estate La Reine. The program will be "Straight Wes: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery."
Performing with Pedro on guitar will be Marsvyn David on bass, Wendell Parris on drums and Dahlia Pena on vocals.
Pedro, a native Crucian, started studying and playing the guitar in 1975. His early inspiration came from Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Kevin Eubanks, as well as fellow Crucians Ronnie Russell and Fred Thomas. Like Montgomery, Pedro is essentially self-taught on guitar, through reading, studying and practicing for thousands of hours. He has played with Jimmy Owens, George Benson, The Drifters and Freddy Williams and sat in on numerous occasions at St. Croix's Blue Moon jazz restaurant. This will be his first time out as a "leader." He is a member of the National Guard's 73rd Army Band and has preformed with it throughout the world, including gigs in California, Bolivia and Morocco.
David, who also is a music writer, arranger and producer, has had four of his tunes recorded by the Howard University Jazz Band and has written, produced, and recorded numerous jingles heard in the territory. He formerly was the band director for Brenda Cole, 1988 country singer of the year, and is currently music director of Orquesta Taboga, Atlanta's premier Latin band, and is producing the group's new CD, due for release early next year.
Parris, a native Crucian, is the son of the late band leader Joseph Parris. As a youngster living in Bethlehem, he played the maracas with a scratch band that traveled around the estate during the Christmas season. He studied arranging and harmony at the Berklee School of Music and percussion at the Military Music School in Norfolk, Va. From 1962 to 1987, he played drums with Taco and the Playboys. He has performed worldwide, including in Jamaica, Marrakesh and Chile with a National Guard band. He started the Steel-O- honic band in 1992 and two years later traveled to Japan with the group representing the Virgin Islands through the V.I. Tourism Division.
Pena, also born on St. Croix, is from a musical family and has been singing since the age of 10. Her early influences were Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Gil Scott-Heron and Nancy Wilson; she was introduced to jazz by Elvis Pedro. Sweet, soft and versatile are adjectives that fit her singing style. She has performed at the Divi Carina Bay Casino and at Harbor Night festivities with the Lava Band. She sings background vocals on several recordings produced by The Ronnie Benjamin Jr. Studio and is doing backup on a soon-to-be-released CD by Ronnie Benjamin Sr.
Jazz Vespers concerts are presented on the first Sunday of each month. Seating is unreserved, and the organizers suggest that you arrive "a little early for the best seats." There's no admission charge, but a freewill offering will be taken. The series is made possible in part by sponsorship from Beeston Hill Medical Laboratory, Carringtons Inn St. Croix and Owen Johnson Electric.
The programs are aimed at young people as well as seasoned jazz lovers; they provide an opportunity for aspiring musicians to get up close and personal with outstanding jazz artists and interact with them after the concerts. Sunday's performance will be recorded live by Willard John.
Next up on the schedule: Horace Clarke "Out of Nowhere" on Jan. 6, The Eddie Russell Sextet on Feb. 3, and Rhythmix on March 3.
The St. Croix Reformed Church is located in Estate La Reine on the hill above the Kingshill Post Office. For more information, call Willard Fields at 719-3672 or Pastor Rod Koopmans at 778-0520 or email to [email protected].


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