Published on December 7th, 2022


The Kravis Center in downtown West Palm Beach is hosting two amazing acts in December with unconventional approaches to their instruments: Black Violin at Dreyfoos Hall and saxophonist Steven Banks in the Rinker Playhouse.

Black Violin are a Grammy-nominated hip-hop duo from Fort Lauderdale that will fill up your emotional cup while expanding your mind. With the vibes of an intimate club or studio, or a classroom, or a main stage like they’ll have with Dreyfoos Hall, Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester on violin and Wilner “Wil B” Baptiste on viola and drums are mixing classical, hip-hop and jazz in exciting new ways.

Like some awesome fusion of soul musician Esperanza Spalding and aleatory maestro John Cage, the sounds are both unexpected and heartwarming, building on the old to create something new. In September they dropped “We Are One,” a hauntingly beautiful collaboration with Grammy-winning gospel group Blind Boys of Alabama, co-written and produced by R&B artist Phil Beaudreau.

Black Violin offer the kind of live experience that goes by in a flash and stays with you long after. Their playing evokes hope and joy — a product of the music as well as the energy that Kev, Wil and their supporting players bring. They are educators as well as entertainers, collectively performing for thousands of schoolchildren since they joined talents in 2004, and introducing classical styles, sounds and instrumentation to young audiences.

Black Violin by Mark Clennon

Steven Banks is another beautiful rarity: a classical saxophonist with a repertoire of works first written for other instruments. Introduced in the 1840s, the sax is not traditionally a part of symphonic writing or classical ensembles. But it’s one of the most feeling of instruments, and a wonderful conduit in Banks’ hands for the eerie softness of a Romantic piece — an oboe sonata by Saint-Saëns and a cello sonata by Rachmaninoff — and the energetic lilt of Baroque — a flute partita by J.S. Bach. Banks will have exemplary accompaniment for this performance in pianist Xak Bjerken.

The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach presents Black Violin, 7:30pm Monday, Dec. 12, and Steven Banks with Xak Bjerken, 7:30pm Wednesday, Dec. 14. ~ Carly Cassano