Groove Park and our favorite island in the sea

Groove Park is my musical “home” for a collection of new songs that combine my jazz roots with other styles and vibes from the rich traditions of Black American Music. Each recording is an opportunity to collaborate with and learn from other artists, with the goal of creating enjoyable sounds for your listening pleasure.

The first two Groove Park releases are tributes to the island of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, our favorite “island in the sea.” I was fortunate to spend many months on the island over the last two years, and had the privilege to play with St Croix based musicians. There’s a strong connection between the Virgin Islands and my hometown of Washington, DC, home to one of the largest and most active Virgin Islands diaspora communities.

Island In The Sea,” the first Groove Park release, is an invitation to get out of the city for a week, a month, and perhaps a lifetime. The production was a collaborative effort with Aaron Myers and Percy White, my longtime musical partners on many live performances and recordings. Aaron and Percy joined me on my 2018 album “Making Up For Lost Time,” and co-wrote and co-produced “Island.”

The second release, “Bend Don’t Break,” features talented musicians from St. Croix. Vocalist Francillia Benjamin contributed an impassioned interpretation of the lyrics. The multi-talented teacher, performer and composer Khadijo Kwabena helped arrange the song and brought his trio to the studio to lay down the powerful rhythm and bass tracks. “Bend Don’t Break” takes inspiration from the palm trees on the Caribbean shore, who survive years of storms and surf by “bending, never breaking.” The lyrics take a lesson from the trees, teaching us to face our own challenges with flexibility and resilience.

“Island In The Sea” drops on March 25. Look for “Bend Don’t Break” later in the year.