Anthony Jefferson: A New Orleans Vocalist At Home In The Dominican Republic

Fernando Rodriguez By

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Jefferson pours his heart and soul into each song. His voice, emotions, and charisma unite the diverse cultures of his native New Orleans and his home in the Dominican Republic.
New Orleans native Anthony Jefferson began singing during childhood in an environment rich in blues, jazz, and R&B, later studying classical repertoire at the California Institute of the Arts and continuing at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Prior to forming his own band, Jefferson shared the stage with artists such as Mark Rapp, Willie Jones III, Mark Shelby, Bobby Brooks Wilson and Brent Rose, just to name a few.

As soon as Jefferson moved to the Dominican Republic, he formed The Jefferson Faculty and released A Jazz Retrospect, a harmonious selection of songs for the delight of the senses. Since then, a lot has happened in his life: his second album But Beautiful (Self Produced, 2013), singing in New York and Europe, and his current project—and special child—his third recording All I Am.

From his Sosúa home, Jefferson discussed his voyage from New Orleans to the Dominican Republic and the birth of All I Am.

All About Jazz: How do you describe yourself?

Anthony Jefferson: I am a person that cares about Mother Earth and making a positive difference in the world. If I can change one life, whether animal or human, for the better then I have made a difference in the world. We all must do our part. I love life, laughter, love and music, and good food!

AAJ: How did you come to live in the Dominican Republic?

AJ: I was on a multiyear sailing trip with friends on my boat when we stopped there. I immediately fell for her culture, fantastic music and foods, and the warmth displayed by its people. I loved the beaches and the incredible weather. I became smitten, and here I am!

AAJ: How was your journey from classical to jazz?

AJ: It was very different. I went from a formal and structured musical system to a much more open and relaxing genre. I honestly love both.

AAJ: Who were your influences?

AJ: I have so many, and I know I will leave someone out, but here are a few: Cole Porter, Nat King Cole, Juan Luis Guerra, Al Jarreau, Sarah Vaughan, George Benson, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Conway Twitty, Gladys Knight, and the list goes on.

AAJ: You had several projects before your arrival in the country, such as The Jefferson Faculty, your various other bands, and your album But Beautiful. Please tell our readers more about them.

AJ: The Jefferson Faculty was a wonderful experience with some fantastic cats like Jonathan Pina, Hipolito Jean, Euris Belliard, and Emil Garcia. A Jazz Retrospect is the title of our only CD. It is a combination of music that takes you back to another era—the days of "Satin Doll," Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Since then, I have been blessed to work with some of the most outstanding musicians from around the world.

My first solo CD is titled But Beautiful. It was an incredible experience to take a piece of my favorite artist of all time, the legendary Nat King Cole, and be privileged to title the CD after one of his works. The But Beautiful project was a wonderful experience for me, especially as a solo artist. From the moment I entered the studio and listened to the Santo Domingo string section, I was overwhelmed, and I remember having to walk outside because I was so blown away by the sheer beauty of it.

AAJ: "Thank You," from that album, was composed by by Mark Rapp and you wrote the lyrics for it.

AJ: Mark Rapp is a dear friend and a trumpeter extraordinaire. We go way back to college days at the University of New Orleans. Mark asked me to check out his song and challenged me to write the lyrics to it. I remember sitting in my living room and honestly, the words just came out with every note of the song as I heard it. I was giving thanks to my parents, best friends, companion, pets, and to the Almighty, just saying "thank you."

AAJ: Tell us about the new album All I Am.

AJ: The album was recorded recorded in the Dominican Republic at Terranota Studio with some of the finest musicians. For starters, there's Corey Allen on piano and keys, Mark Rapp on trumpet, and the excellent Dominican musicians Pengbian Sang, Federico Mendez, and Guy Frometa on bass, guitar and drums, respectively. This CD also features the Corey Allen strings and horn sections, award-winning saxophonist Sandy Gabriel and a special duet with the legendary Dominican jazz diva Patricia Pereyra. All arrangements were done by Corey Allen. The album will be released in a concert on February 7 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Blue Mall in Santo Domingo.

All I Am has been beautifully arranged. The carefully selected songs are true to my heart. They are some of my personal favorites and I hope I can bring a new and fresh interpretation to them. Once again, alongside Mark Rapp, I will be introducing a beautifully written song titled "In the Presence Of," which I've added lyrics to. My goal is to make you think of all that is good. This is music for the heart and soul. My love to all!

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