Eric Darius, also known as the “Smooth Breeze,” was born in Livingston, New Jersey on December 3, 1982. Born into a musical family (his father plays the bass, his mother sings, his older brother plays the drums and trumpet, and his younger sister sings), Eric first expressed his interest in playing the saxophone at the age of 10, when he first heard Nolan Sheritz play the saxophone at his church. Inspired by his soulful playing, Eric started taking lessons with Nolan several weeks later. Several months afterward, he then began studying with Melissa Marko, who was a student at Hillsborough Community College at that time.
He then began performing at the age of 11 with Sonny LaRosa and America’s Youngest Jazz Band, which later performed at the prestigious Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1995. Eric attended Blake High School of the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida, where he was a member of the Blake Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, basketball team, soccer team, and National Honors Society, in which he graduated with a 5.2 grade point average. His musical influences range from artists like John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, and Charlie Parker, to today’s artists such as Kirk Whalum, Kenny Garrett, Michael Brecker, Branford Marsalis, and the late Grover Washington, Jr.
In 1999, Eric and the Blake Jazz Ensemble were selected to perform at the Essentially Ellington Festival in New York City, where they placed fourth out of the top twenty jazz bands in the United States. While in New York, he got the privilege to play with Wynton Marsalis and Paquito D’Rivera in a jam session. Also, in 2000, Eric and the Blake Jazz Combo toured and performed in Japan as part of Florida’s Cultural Exchange Programs.
Throughout the years, he has received numerous individual honors and awards. Also, he has performed with the following notable artists: Richard Elliot, Ed Calle, Richard Smith, Slide Hampton, Buster Cooper, John Lamb, and many others. In addition to this, Eric has had the opportunity to meet several renowned artists, such as, Kirk Whalum, Gerald Albright, Dave Koz, Peter White, Jeff Lorber, Rick Braun, Najee, Warren Hill, David Benoit, Nelson Rangell, Everette Harp, and many others.
Eric’s debut album entitled “Cruisin” was released earlier in 2001. Currently, at the age of 19, he is a full time student at the University of South Florida, where he is studying music and pursuing his dreams. He performs regularly at nightclubs and restaurants throughout the Tampa Bay area. Eric gives all of his credit to his parents who inspire him, motivate him, and support him in everything he does. His father, Serge Darius, is his manager and agent, and Eric says that he wouldn’t be where he at this moment without him.
Although well accomplished at the young age of 19, the sky is the limit for this young musician’s success. He is well on his way to music stardom.