In the second installment of “Thursday Night Live” at Riviera at the Breakers, local jazz saxophonist, Tony Exum Jr. will bring the crowd his contemporary style of jazz, blending jazz with R&B, funk and more. The live music begins at 7 p.m. with happy hours from 3-6 and 7-11. Enjoy a cool, refreshing drink and beautiful lake views while the soulful jazz sounds of Exum Jr. swirl through the Riviera. What more could you ask for on a Thursday night during spring?
We caught up with Exum Jr. to chat about his upcoming performance, influences and favorite venues in Denver. Check it out below, and catch him at the Riviera THIS Thursday. And don’t miss the other amazing artists to come through each Thursday at the Riviera!
303 Magazine: How did you get started in music?
Tony Exum Jr.: I got started at age 11. Playing alto sax in the Michel Middle School band in Biloxi, Mississippi. I was inspired by my uncle Larry Francis, Jr who was then an Army musician stationed at Ft. Carson. I listened to him as a very small child and grew to love the saxophone. It was only a matter of time.
How would you describe your personal jazz style?
Four words plus a few more. Smooth contemporary jazz-funk with a twist of R&B feel appeal. (Sorry BBD) I tend to use my gift as a saxophonist to blend all my influences. I try to “sing” through the horn and grasp the senses of the listener. Being lyrical is something I strive for.
Do you play any other instruments?
I play some keys mainly for songwriting and studying theory. I plan to become a nasty bass player one day God willing. I dabble on flute and play several electronic wind instruments.
Who are some of your musical heroes?
So many but to name a few: Grover Washington, Jr., George Howard, Jeff Lorber, New Edition, Donny Hathaway, J Dilla, Bird, Miles, Hendrix, EWF, Funkadelic…..etc etc.
What’s your favorite venue to play in Denver?
Any venue. I love the energy of the Denver crowds. I have a particular fondness for Jazz at Jacks because I launched my solo endeavors there. Any place where people appreciate music and show it is a venue where I love to play.
Are you currently working on a new album?
Yes. Lots of new music this year.
What albums do you currently have on repeat? Any up-and-comers we should know about?
Lately, D’Angelo’s new record, Maze and Frankie Beverly greatest hits, always some Ronnie Laws or Grover in the mix..New Edition’s album Heart Break is embedded in my DNA.
There are so many up and comers. Saxophonists Vandell Andrew, Harold Rapp, III, Ryan Kilgore (Stevie Wonder), Marcus Anderson, bassist Julian Vaughn, trumpeters Willie Bradley and Issac Byrd, Jr. Look out for the return of R&B with a duo called Paul Campbell from the Bobby Brown camp. Incredible!
You’re only the second act in the brand new Thursday Live at Riviera concert series, how do you plan to kick off the festivities?
In full concert mode..on a journey through old school, neo soul, funk and some original music from my current release The One.
Any words for fans or people on the fence about coming to your show at the Riviera?
Please come and share great music, fellowship and a short break from reality…I plan to make you smile. Can’t wait to see and meet you!