For his third album, saxophone player Frank Drew has gone beyond the smooth jazz that comprised his first two CDs.

“Diversity” includes vocals by rapper Tahaira L., world music performer Olenka Gadzik and Drew’s wife, Joanie Mercy, a violin player and blues singer formerly with the band Black and Blue Blonde.

“I like a lot of different styles of music, but I don’t like negative music,” the 53-year-old Drew said. “And if you stay the same, you get boring.”

“Diversity” will make its live debut Friday night at the 11th Street Precinct Bar & Grill in the Village of East Davenport and include vocals by the three women on the album. Meanwhile, Drew will be backed up by the West Side Band: guitarist Tony Carducci, drummer Leif Rehnberg and bass player Brandon Sparks.

When he’s in front, Drew is one of the rare saxophonists to lead a band in the Quad-Cities.

He moved to this area from his native Springfield, Ill., more than 20 years ago, and found the Quad-Cities heavily dominated by rock and blues music. Among his first gigs was playing with the Pena Brothers Band, and he has performed through the years with Funktastic 5, the Steady Rollin’ Band and Mississippi Voodoo, among others.

He first met Mercy 20 years ago when both played for Steady Rollin’, which was led by longtime Quad-City bluesman Hal Reed. Each was involved with other people, but they began dating a few years ago and were married three years ago.

A former percussionist, Drew switched to the saxophone about the same time he arrived in the Quad-Cities and loves the instrument for its energy.

“Energy and going to the next level all the time,” he said. “It just feels good.”

Drew’s album was recorded and mixed in a small room off the kitchen of the house that he and Mercy share in Rock Island.

“You can create anytime, 24 hours (a day). If you want to put a track down, an idea down, you just put it down,” he said.

It made sense economically as well, he added.

“If you go to a studio, it’d cost you an arm and a leg, so you just do it yourself.”

At 53, Drew knows he won’t be considered the next great thing in jazz, but he still enjoys what he performs.

“I just do it ‘cause I love it now,” he said. “If something happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, I’ll still be doing it.”

 

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