- Faith & Family
Joseph Omicil, Jr., 34, known more often as “Jowee O,” first started playing the alto saxophone when he was 15 as part of the music ministry at this father’s church. Before long, he realized that he had found his life’s calling and the source of his passion. In fact, “passionate” is the best way to describe how Jowee O has embraced his career as a jazz alto/soprano saxophonist that has landed him numerous awards and taken him around the world performing with superstars like Roy Hargrove, Pharoah Sanders and Branford Marsalis.
Born of Haitian descent in Montreal, Canada, he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and has made South Florida his home for the past six years. Since his arrival, he’s put together his own band and acquired a devoted legion of fans. He recently stopped the show while performing in Overtown as part of the “Jazz and a little bit of Blues” showcase of artists at the iconic Jackson Soul Food restaurant.
“I play jazz raw and try to make it accessible to anyone,” he said. “When I perform my goal is to bring people into my world. And here in Florida the kinds of folks that come out to hear me play are just as diverse as this community — old jazz heads in their 60s and older, the upcoming generation just out of college, Hispanics, Asians, even little children that have yet to start school. What it tells me is that people are searching for someone who is willing to push the boundaries and entertain them.”
CD illustrates the breadth of his talent
His latest recording, “Roots & Grooves,” is a mixture of difference influences — hip-hop, early jazz, African, gospel and of course, Haitian. He says his goal is to include all of these sounds and colors in his music.
“I have a difficult time categorizing myself — I just like to call my sound universal,” he said. “I don’t fit well into a box. But I have this real love and passion for music and want to make sure it grooves. And then I add to the groove the roots — that’s where I come from. The album was a real journey for me. Goh Hotoda was the engineer and he is one of the best in the industry. I wanted a sound that would touch me sonically. He made it happen like he’s done for one of my favorites in the business, Marcus Miller.”
To listen to Jowee O is to be drawn into a party — a real jazz experience. He says that his growing fan base confirms that he’s on the right track.
“I’ve been called the Floyd Mayweather of Jazz — you know pound for pound and all that,” he said. “That’s a great compliment. It’s all about happiness and bringing that mood — party time — the bash — to the music. This is my gift and I treat it with respect because I know that it chose me, not the other way around.”
By D. Kevin McNeir