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From playing at local clubs and hotspots in his native Tampa to wowing the crowds at the JazzTrax Catalina Island Jazz Festival, life for this 24-year college student has changed dramatically in just a few years. Yet, ERIC DARIUS’ approach to his music remains as sincere as the day he first discovered jazz as a child. “I’d been playing the saxophone for about one year, before I joined America’s Youngest Jazz Band, which was led by renown trumpeter, Sonny LaRosa. The unique band brought in musicians from ages 5-12, and I was fortunate enough to be part of it for two years.” Listening to music around the house, Darius had always had a passion for jazz, and being in this elite group changed his life.
Born into a musical family (his father plays bass, his mother and sister sing, and his older brother plays the drums and trumpet), Darius studied at Blake High School of the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida, where he was a member of the Blake Jazz Ensemble and many other bands the school offered. In 1999, Darius and the Blake Jazz Ensemble were selected to perform at the Essentially Ellington Festival in New York City, where they placed fourth out of the top twenty jazz bands in the United States. While in New York, he had the opportunity to play with Wynton Marsalis and Paquito D’Rivera in a jam session. A year later, Darius performed in Japan with the Blake Jazz Combo as part of Florida’s Cultural Exchange Program. Throughout the past several years, Darius has played at several renowned venues, such as the JazzTrax Catalina Island Jazz Festival, the Capital Jazz Festival, the Apollo Theater in New York City, the Clearwater Jazz Festival, and – as a member of the University of South Florida Jazztet – the Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy) and the Vienne Jazz Festival (France). In addition, he has shared the stage with notable artists such as Prince, Dave Koz, Kenny G, Mindi Abair, Boney James, George Benson, Dionne Warwick, Chris Botti, and many others.
In 2001, Darius released Cruisin’ independently at the age of 17. “I started writing music for this CD when I was 13. One of the major things that inspired me to make this album was the thought of “cruisin’” in my own car!” Darius goes on to mention that, since then, composing has been his most personal expression. “I love to write my own music because that is something that comes from deeply within, and I want my listeners to really be able to feel what I felt when I wrote it.”
Night on the Town (2004), Darius’ major label debut on Higher Octave, showcased his maturing talent as both a songwriter and musician. Darius gave his freshly funked tunes a breezy vibe that perfectly underscores his wicked chops. Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind, and Fire were some of the artists who inspired Darius’ songwriting for Night on the Town. “I really admire how their music evokes a mood and a place. I hope that audiences will make similar connections through my music.”
His most recent releases are Just Getting Started (2007) and Goin’ All Out (2008). On Just Getting Started, Darius remarks, “Even though each song has its own vibe on this CD, the one characteristic that every song on this CD has in common is – a groove. Every song will make you move!”
From touring the country, to being named the Smooth Jazz Debut Artist of the Year, to making a global impact, hold on to your seats ladies and gentlemen because Eric Darius is just getting started!!!