Comprised of veteran musicians, New Jump Blues is a new “interpretation” of “jump blues,” an offshoot of the big-band swing era that Fargas labeled as a music that is “definitely urban” with urban roots that tell a “story and has a rhythm and a beat, a heartbeat and a jump that invigorates.”
“I’m not a musical singer. I’m more of a dramatic singer. I’m more into the drama and the storytelling and the response,” the “Starsky and Hutch” star whose character was known as Huggy Bear, added as he emphasized how New Jump Blues honors music greats like Little Richard, Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris and Louis Prima who paved the way for the group to carry the torch. “I feel that the New Jump Blues showcases all those things that are happening and it’s a growing experience for me to be involved with Jimmy Maslon and the other artists that are involved in this project because we are definitely a project and a voice that pays honor to those men that I mentioned before.”
Fargas’ involvement with New Jump Blues began two years ago when he and Maslon created the group in an effort to “find a musical expression.” Since then, New Jump Blues has garnered a buzz via performances in LA and the support from Jose Reso of jazz radio station WKLN. The band is scheduled to perform at the Playboy Jazz Festival presented Free Concert in Beverly Hills on May 5. The event, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. at the Beverly Hills Civic Center Plaza, will also feature the Beverly Hills High School jazz band under the direction of Bill Bradbury and include a special salute to Cinco de Mayo from New Jump Blues.
“We are just testing the waters and the reception has been marvelous,” Fargas said about the public’s reaction to his group, while crediting Maslon for introducing him to well known jump blues artists. He’s more of the aficionado. I’m more the artist. I found so much gold there because I remember Louis Prima and also Louis Jordan, but I didn’t know what Wynonie Harris and some of the other artists that were pretty much unsung and by going on these wonderful journey on YouTube to see some of their performances and hear the music it just spoke to me.”
“And really it’s just standing back and sort of being the foundation and the hook as well as the performer and singer,” he continued. “It’s just an honor to work with these young and not so young musicians who go out there and create this wonderful [music], lay down this wonderful rhythm for us.”
With 53 years put in as an entertainer, Fargas is proud to be able to branch out into music and make as memorable an impression in his latest endeavor as he has done over the years with acting.
“A few years ago when I was doing “Starsky and Hutch” or right after, some people came over from Holland and wanted me to do a Christmas song,” he recalled. “And I went over to Holland and recorded a Christmas song and one of the memorable parts of my career was that I went to a jukebox in Amsterdam and my song was on the jukebox. So now the milestone is that me singing and performing is on YouTube and it’s such an honor.”
Watch Antonio “Huggy Bear” Fargas and the New Jump Blues in action in Hollywood: