(JACKSON, Miss.) – After a two-year hiatus, WJSU brings saxy back with the 2012 Battle of the Saxes, at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at the historic Alamo Theater in downtown Jackson. This year’s concert marks the sixth year WJSU has presented this event in the metro area, which showcases unsigned and independent artists from across the country. This year’s participants include Jackson’s Thomas “Tiger” Rogers, Atlanta’s Kenny Nightingale and East St. Louis’ Amos Brewer.
“The Battle of the Saxes helps keep jazz alive in our community,” said WJSU general manager and Battle of the Saxes creator Gina Carter-Simmers, adding the show is not just a concert.
“Each year that we present the Battle of the Saxes, we host about 200 youth,” Carter-Simmers said. “For many of them, the Battle of the Saxes is their first exposure to America’s only true musical art form, jazz. They also get to meet and talk with the artists. So for the students, it’s an educational experience. For the unsigned artists, it’s a platform to showcase their music.”
Thomas “Tiger” Rogers opens this year’s concert. As a child, Tiger had a unique fascination with art and music. He began playing the alto saxophone in the sixth grade at Whitten Middle School. Since that time, he has grown into an exceptional performer. Recently, Tiger performed overseas with Malaco’s recording artist, Queen Emily of “America’s Got Talent” fame in Bern, Switzerland, as part of Bern’s annual jazz festival activities. December 2011, the Mississippi Jazz Foundation named him “Aspiring Artist of the Year.” During the 2010 Mississippi Grammys, Tiger performed with the Williams’ Brothers, Charlie Pride, Eddie Cotton, Dorothy Moore and Cassandra Wilson, to name a few. He also performed at the 2009 National Governor’s Convention in Mississippi before a crowd of many distinguished public officials.
Kenny Nightingale is a musician, vocalist and producer. Born and raised in the Motherland of Lagos, Nigeria, Nightingale grew up with a strong musical background. His father is an acclaimed musician and his eight brothers are also musically gifted. Nightingale started out recording, performing and playing various musical instruments at a very young age. He quickly evolved as the lead singer for the band Fuzzy Brothers, and shared the stage with his father and brothers. Today, Nightingale creatively positions himself as a soulful jazz and Gospel artist with a smooth blend of pop grooves.
The event headliner is Amos L. Brewer, who was born in East St. Louis. He attended Lincoln High School, where he was taught by the famed saxophonist and jazz educator Ron Carter. He also was taught by jazz clinicians who visited his school including Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry, Chico Hamilton, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Watson, Bunky Green, Bob Mintzer, and Michael Brecker, to name a few. Inspired by Miles Davis, James Brown, Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley, Amos has created a style that delivers some of the funkiest jazz around.
“It’s my connection to God!” Brewer says about playing music.
Carter-Simmers said WJSU listeners will agree that this show was well worth the two-year wait.
“I can’t say enough about these three amazing instrumentalists,” she said. “Amos, as they all do, loves the sax. Pure love of his instrument can be heard in every note that he plays. Kenny is a gifted songwriter. By age 14, he wrote and recorded a hit single. And our youngest performer, Tiger, is a prodigy. He began writing and playing by ear in middle school. Amos, Kenny and Tiger are in high demand across the globe and have played with some of the most notable jazz professionals of our time.”
Tickets for the Battle of the Saxes are on sale now through all Ticketmaster outlets. General admission tickets are $20. For more information, call 601-979-8672.