, Salem, MA


April 10, 2014

A jazzy homecoming

Mike Tucker brings his trio to Danvers this weekend

Danvers native Mike Tucker has been playing saxophone all over the globe for years.

He has appeared at festivals in Israel and South America and works regularly as a sideman for singer Robin McKelle in France and for trumpeter Tiger Okoshi in Japan.

But this weekend will mark only the second time Tucker, 35, has played a concert in his hometown.

“I played in Danvers one other time in my entire life, and it was at a church 10 years ago,” he said.

The Mike Tucker Organ Trio will appear with the North Shore Jazz Project All Stars Saturday at Maple Street Church, where Tucker got his start with music director Kathy Gross.

“She was my first musical mentor,” he said. “I was in the choir at 5 or 6. My first introduction to music was singing, actually.”

Gross stayed in touch with Tucker over the years and invited him to appear in this weekend’s concert.

But it was a good thing Tucker learned to play saxophone, because his voice was never much to brag about.

He once appeared in a show where Fred Wesley, James Brown’s musical director, asked him to sing harmony parts.

“I totally botched them,” Tucker said. “He was like, man, you really can’t sing, can you?”

But when Tucker started playing saxophone at school, where he would eventually become a member of the Danvers High Falcons Marching Band, the reaction was different.

“My band director, Ron Parsons, pulled my mom aside — my mom told me this — and said, I want you to know your son is one of the most talented kids I ever worked with,” Tucker said. “He gave me lessons, a lot of encouragement and support.”

Tucker lives in Boston and teaches at Berklee College of Music and the Boston Arts Academy, Boston’s only performing arts high school.

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