Catching up with Jazzy Jeff
Jeffrey Townes — a.k.a. Jazzy Jeff, half of the ’80s rap duo D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince — is a big Peter Scolari fan. Fitting, since, like Scolari, who in the early ’80s starred in the sitcom Bosom Buddies with a guy named Tom Hanks, Townes has been overshadowed by the success of old partner Will Smith. And as the Fresh Prince is crowned the new King of Hollywood, it’s time to wonder: Where have you gone, Jazzy Jeff?
In the early ’90s Townes followed Smith into acting and landed a recurring role on NBC’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But after the six-season show ended last year, he headed home to Philadelphia. ”I had fun [in L.A.],” says Townes, 32. ”But I kept asking myself ‘What am I doing here?’ My heart and soul is still music.” He now occupies himself with A Touch of Jazz, the studio and music-production company he owns (one of his discoveries, soul artist V, just inked a deal with Elektra). And he’s working with Smith again on a record. Will this be a reunion album for the pair who won two Grammys and had four platinum records? ”I don’t really know how it’s going to be billed,” Townes hedges. ”We’re just grabbing two turntables and a drum machine and seeing what we can come up with.”
Regardless, Townes is content with his Scolari-ness: ”Will and I know it’s because of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince that I’m able to have the company and he’s able to be in Independence Day. We respect that. We just move on from there.”