Alfonzo Blackwell is an American modern contemporary jazz saxophonist, composer, and producer. He is also a pianist, bassist, guitarist and drummer.
Alfonzo Robert Blackwell Jr. was born in Brooklyn, New York. Music was always a big part of his household and childhood upbringing. He learned to play the piano by ear at the age of six. He began playing saxophone at the age of eleven and became proficient on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones. Over the years he also started to play the drums, bass and guitar. Parents Robert and Herminia Blackwell, siblings Brenetta, Lynette & Rolan Blackwell.
He was accepted at the Performing Arts High School in NYC and then continued his advanced studies at The Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and Five Towns College for Music in Long Island, NY. While honing his craft, his jazz influences included Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Eric Dolphy and Charlie Parker. He performed at jazz clubs throughout the tri-state area and earned a weekly residency at a popular Manhattan music venue. Through his youth, Blackwell played in big bands, jazz ensembles, funk bands, etc. to showcase his original material to his growing audiences and he also played traditional jazz standards and added a few cover tunes in his shows. His formula for mixing traditional jazz with modern contemporary soul and jazz is what makes up his musical presence to date.
Blackwell entered the contemporary jazz music scene in May 1995 with his debut CD release Let’s Imagine. After his instant NAC radio hit "Alfonzo’s Love Theme", he forged ahead with more Top 10 Billboard-charting hits. "Hermina", an originally penned tribute to his mother, "Passion" and "Funky Shuffle" were chart toppers as well. Music video hits "Love No Limit" and "A Little Bit of Sax" were both nominated for Best Contemporary Jazz Video Billboard Awards and he was a regular feature on BET and other popular music video channels. His "Funky Shuffle" and "Take One" (remix) music videos also generated buzz. His music compositions have been used for movie themes as well as television. He performed the theme song to the internationally successful television show Baywatch Nights, on which he was featured every week with David Hasselhoff. He also was featured on the movie soundtrack for the Rebecca De Mornay and Antonio Banderas movie Never Talk to Strangers, with the hit track "Love Sick". Blackwell has performed with musicians including Gladys Knight, The Whispers and Roy Ayers to name a few. He also performed with contemporary soul artists such as Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans and Brian McKnight.
Throughout his musical career, Blackwell has always made it a priority to pay tribute to jazz greats who came before him and inspired him by recording his own renditions of such classics as Quincy Jones' production of "Killer Joe", George Benson's "Breezin'",John Coltrane's take on "My Favorite Things" and Miles Davis' "All Blues". Growing up, Blackwell was strongly influenced by the various musical styles that his parents played in his home. He also produced and performed his rendition of MFSB's "Love Is the Message" on his self-titled LP.
2010 marked Blackwell's fifteenth anniversary in the music business and to commemorate this milestone he worked on a tribute to John Coltrane for inclusion in his eighth project, Legacy. He planned a recording of Coltrane's "Impressions" for 2011 single-track release.
Causes and special interests
Blackwell supports various charitable causes and music education programs. In his spare time, he is a competitive bodybuilder and power-lifter and has won several awards and trophies throughout his rigorous training. He is also a competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. Blackwell uses his musical discipline to master of all facets of his life that has made him the student of success. He is currently an American Heart Association (AHA) ambassador for the Power to End Stroke campaign initiative. He also serves as a speaker and board member of the Artist Empowerment Coalition. The Artist Empowerment Coalition is a not-for-profit coalition of artists, musicians, songwriters, producers and music lovers. The AEC was initiated and inspired through the efforts of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Prince, Roberta Flack and Chaka Khan along with the law firm of L. Londell McMillan, P.C. and supports musicians and artist’s rights.
- Let’s Imagine (1995)
- Alfonzo Blackwell (1996)
- Body of Soul (1998)
- The Time Is Now (2000)
- Reflections (2001)
- Sax You Down [double disk CD] (2004)
- Dance To This (2008)
- Legacy (2012)