Listening to Eric Darius’ new album, “Retro Forward,” you can believe the title to be true. After ten years in the business, he is not looking back. Well… not really. As an extension of himself, he drew inspiration from the music of those whom he admired from the past and fused that essence with who he is evolving into. In doing so, he allows his fans to enjoy a refreshing vibe from the Eric Darius they love, and new fans are climbing on board. Like a painter gazes at a blank canvas in preparation to create, Darius embraced forging forward into the unknown. He moved into a new world, reinventing himself and his music by working with producers Tony Dixon and Blu2th–both who, by the way, weren’t familiar with his music. Together, they created everything from the anthem driven title song, “Retro Forward,” to a dance tune, ballads, and two covers–one on which he sang and the other being Pharrell’s “Happy.” It has been so successful that it has made it to the Top 25 Billboard; a giant leap but one that he was sure would help bring forth music for everyone. In my opinion, Eric’s success at taking on the unfamiliar and pushing the envelope is exciting and welcome. I asked him what would best describe what he has accomplished with “Retro Forward.” His response: “a breakthrough.”
Eric Darius is a man on a mission.–so much so that his latest album is titled “On a Mission.” He is an electrifying musician whose live performances have been known to “wow” crowds of his fans. Having fallen in love with the saxophone at a very young age, he has always known that this was his destiny. And it is a destiny that he doesn’t take for granted. He is driven because he knows that he has been given a gift and is very blessed–blessed to travel around the world performing for his countless fans and blessed to be a talented musician and composer. Darius incorporates Gospel, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Pop, Rock, and R&B to create music that everyone can relate to and enjoy. He is also an advocate for exposing music to school-aged kids all the way through to college students because of what influence and impact music had on his on life as a kid. Yes, Eric is on a mission and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Idyllic Napa Valley will serve as the beatific backdrop for a festival of wine and jazz next month when the second Napa Valley Jazz Getaway (www.napavalleyjazzgetaway2013.com) takes place June 5-9 featuring a luminous lineup of performers topped by the event’s Founder & Artistic Director Brian Culbertson (www.brianculbertson.me). The soulful hit-making multi-instrumentalist will be joined by Grammy winners Take 6, Ray Parker Jr., Norman Brown and Kirk Whalum united with Rick Braun as BWB, funksters Larry Graham & Graham Central Station, saxophonists Eric Darius and Michael Lington, guitarist Nick Colionne, R&B vocalist Selina Albright, keyboardist Cecil Ramirez, party band DW3 and special guest comedian Sinbad. With this much talent on display, it’s no wonder that the VIP and Silver ticket packages sold out months ago.
Over 1,200 festival goers from all over the nation will flock to California wine country for concerts at the Napa Valley Opera House and Lincoln Theater while more intimate shows will be held at several wineries including Silver Oak and Chimney Rock. VIPs will be treated to a solo piano performance by Culbertson staged in the wine cave at Miner Family Winery, which was one of the most buzzed about shows at last year’s inaugural event.
The Napa Valley Jazz Getaway is a not-to-be-missed interactive lifestyle experience at which fans can share their passion for wine and jazz with the musicians while dining, during wine receptions and tastings, at autograph sessions, at a golf tournament at Silverado Resort & Spa, and at casual post-concert hangs at the Westin Verasa Napa. Prior to the June 8th concert, a silent auction and wine reception will be held in support of music education to benefit The GRAMMY Foundation at which many of the winery partners will provide complimentary pourings.
One of the brightest stars in the contemporary jazz galaxy, award-winning musician, songwriter and producer Culbertson is a consistent chart-topper with a catalogue that spans 13 solo albums along with hits that he wrote and produced for other marquee artists. Known for distilling a soul-splashed vintage of shimmering jazz, funk grooves and sophisticated R&B-pop, creating the Napa Valley Jazz Getaway has enabled the dynamic artist to prove his mettle as a lifestyle curator. Culbertson is a consummate entertainer who has a hot new band and a slamming show that is certain to get and keep people on their feet each time they hit the stage in Napa.