The West Tisbury library hosts the final of its Second Sunday jazz performances on April 8 at 3:30 pm. Eric Johnson, Jeremy Berlin, and Rose Guerin will perform songs from the American songbook by composers like Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Hoagy Carmichael, and also a piece by Nina Simone.
Johnson, who plays guitar and electric and upright bass, is the organizer of the popular event. He said that around five years ago, the library director, Beth Kramer, approached him about curating the Tuesdays@Twilight summer concert series at the Grange Hall, then in the fall of 2016, he approached her about a jazz series.
“She’s always looking for ways to improve and expand what the library offers, and I was flattered that she immediately embraced the idea and trusted me to make the programming decisions,” Johnson wrote in an email. “The ‘Second Sunday’ approach has kept scheduling simple, and over the course of three years we’ve developed an appreciative audience and know we’ll always have a full house. Working with Olivia Larsen at the library has been a pleasure.”
Johnson has a regular Tuesday night gig with Jeremy Berlin at Offshore Ale, and said one of the offshoots of their longtime collaboration is his learning the upright bass. After living in Cambridge and Brooklyn, Johnson moved to the Vineyard in the late 1990s, and admitted there aren’t many jazz musicians on the Island.
“Being a jazz musician on the Island has its pros and cons,” he said. “It’s not Brooklyn, but then again it’s not like there are that many jazz gigs anywhere.”
Since there aren’t many jazz musicians on the Island, Johnson said, they all know each other and feel comfortable playing together. “The groups this season have basically been me and Jeremy, with and without drummer Tauras Biskis, and the John Alaimo trio,” Johnson explained. “John is a wonderful pianist/arranger. His trio with Mike Tinus [bass] and Tauras has been playing together for many years. The addition of vocalists Rose and David this season has added another exciting element.”
The recitals at the West Tisbury library are just an hour long, which seems the perfect length for the audience and the musicians, and Johnson said he’s grateful for the audience on a day when they could easily choose to do something else.
“We get to go out there and just go for it for 60 minutes, and the audience doesn’t have a chance to get sick of us,” Johnson joked. “But seriously, it is Sunday afternoon, and we appreciate that people might want time to go for a walk or watch the game. The less-is-more seems to be working well. It’s not a huge commitment.”
Second Sunday Jazz Concert, April 8, 3:30 pm, West Tisbury library. The concert is free, and refreshments will be served.