Jazz musician also makes pictures of noteJazz...


Jazz musician also makes pictures of note

Jazz drummer Tony Sweet, a Dundalk native who began his career in Baltimore clubs during the '70s and went on to perform and record with Ethel Ennis and Frank Foster, is back on the local music scene.

Mr. Sweet returned to his hometown last fall to be closer to his 11-year-old daughter, Kelly, who lives in Anne Arundel County.

"She's the reason I'm back. . . . If I had my way, I'd live in an RV," says Mr. Sweet, 46, who has also built a reputation as a nature photographer.

Before Mr. Sweet left Baltimore in 1979 to travel with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, he studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music for a year and performed and recorded with the Towson State University Jazz Ensemble from 1973 to 1977.

He performed on cruise ships, worked with magician Harry Blackstone Jr. and played in theater productions and at local clubs.

In 1985, Mr. Sweet moved to Cincinnati to study at the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music and play with the Cal Collins Quartet. And he started taking pictures of jazz musicians and selling photos to jazz publications.

"Photography is my drive now," says Mr. Sweet, though he still performs locally with the Howard Burns Quintet. On May 11, the group will perform at the Bentz Street Raw Bar in Frederick.

Mr. Sweet continues to sell his photography and work as a photography instructor. He'll be conducting a workshop at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center in Frederick through May and this summer plans on taking several trips as an instructor with the Great American Photography Weekend, a well-known traveling photography workshop. Mr. Sweet is also working on launching a new radio talk show about photography later this summer.

@ When Jeff Wilkinson isn't sketching the Orioles in action, he's often watching them play.

As an illustrator who has worked for 40 major- and minor-league teams, he has a job that brings together the two great loves of his life: sports and art.

"I've combined a business with a passion," says Mr. Wilkinson, 33, who lives in Timonium. "If I go to an Orioles game and see people walking around in one of my T-shirts, I take personal pride in that."

He also could take pride in seeing them with one of his key chains, coffee mugs, polo shirts or lithographs. Since the new ballpark opened, Mr. Wilkinson's designs have been a staple there.

By age 12, he knew he wanted to draw sports figures for a living. But it wasn't until graduating from Towson State University in 1984 and facing several lean years as a sign painter that he prevailed.

His big break came in the summer of 1987 when he sold a sketch of Cal Ripken Jr., Jim Palmer and other local legends to Burger King, which reproduced it on 200,000 cups.

When Camden Yards opened in 1992, his work hit the big time -- being selected over 40 other companies by the stadium vendor, ARA Services. Since then, he's signed on with the Baltimore CFLs, the Cleveland Indians and the Colorado Rockies. Mr. Wilkinson is such a sports fanatic that when he's not drawing athletes, he's often planning road trips, attending games or working out in his home gym.

"It's so much a part of me that I can't get away from it," he says. "I'm going to London for 10 days, and I'm thinking, 'Maybe I can catch a soccer game.' "

Mary Corey

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