Vermont Jazz Center Presents: Emerging Artist Joel Ross “Good Vibes”

Blue Note Vibraphonist Joel Ross to Perform Music from Award Winning Album KingMaker at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, March 14th

The Vermont Jazz Center presents Downbeat Rising Star Award-winning vibraphonist Ross in concert on Saturday, March 14th.  Ross, a 24 year-old Blue Note recording artist, is making the “vibes” a more familiar and accessible sound to audience members of his generation. For listeners familiar with the impact of the vibes in bebop and swing, Ross’ dynamic sound and virtuosity brings back memories of its judicious use by jazz legends Red Norvo, Lionel Hampton, Bobby Hutcherson, Milt Jackson and Gary Burton. Ross’ approach is both modern and steeped in the tradition. JazzTimes Magazine claims “Not since Stefon Harris’ arrival 20 years ago has the jazz world heard a young vibraphonist intent on exploring so many dimensions.”

Ross will be performing selections from his highly acclaimed Blue Note album, KingMaker, a musical tribute to his family. Joining him at the Jazz Center will be other mid-20s artists  including Immanuel Wilkens on saxophone, Jeremy Corren on piano, Kanoa Mendelhall on bass, and Jeremy Dutton on the drums. All except Mendelhall can be heard on Ross’ recent release. Downbeat Magazine gave KingMaker a 4 star review, noting that “Ross’ playing erupts through the layers of lush arrangements like consistent currents of electricity, high-powered and full of luminous energy. These bright bursts of solos and melodic lines surprise, excite and stretch…”

Ross’ music is intelligent, beautiful, and rhythmically charged. He attributes his meticulous attention to tone-quality to the influence of his teacher, Stefon Harris. Depending on the context, his notes are either bell-like and sustained, or short and rhythmically driving. Ross applies this attention to detail in the arrangements for his band as well, exploring the timbral colors of each instrument to great effect. His compositions are rich with contrasts of sounds and textures, and are enhanced through masterful use of dynamics and unexpected parings of instruments. On March 14th, listeners at the Jazz Center will embark on a journey that unfolds like theater, experiencing compositions that build and evolve into remarkable forms. Like the magic of Miles Davis’ second great quintet, this musical voyage will be enhanced by the tightness of the group’s ensemble work and the musicians’ vibrant, telepathic interactions.

The sound of Good Vibes is unmistakably modern; it is a “new thing” produced by young, virtuoso performers who are currently at the epicenter of New York’s diverse scene, actively creating the music that defines “cutting edge,” irrespective of labels in 2020. Will Layman, of popMatters, captures Ross’ relationship to the sounds of the current generation: “This band is sneaky. They play funk, but it never feels like jazz-hip-hop fusion; they play rock but are never obviously sounding like, say, Radiohead. They have floating pop/gospel elements, but only a few, and for all the tricky playing with time, there is nothing off-putting or new-music-y or studied about the feel. It is also sneaking in the way the superb group interplay makes you realize that you haven’t heard, perhaps, quite enough of the leader.”

Ross’ fully developed concept is akin to a vigorous tree of unclassified species whose roots are burrowed deeply in the soil of jazz. This can be heard in the group’s danceable relationship with the swinging pulse, their ease of improvisation and respect for melody. Ross’ influences are drawn from swing, bebop and beyond. In an interview with JAZZIZ Magazine, Ross stated that the vibraphonist he was first drawn to was Milt Jackson (best known for his work with the Modern Jazz Quartet). But he was also “listening consistently to Monk, Miles and Trane for years, taking in everything these artists were doing – not only the type of music they were playing, how also how they were leading their bands.” In a conversation with Capitol Bop, Ross discussed their tremendous impact on his development and how Miles Davis in particular influenced his yearning to work with and compose for a steady band: “I enjoy it most when we are all communicating and playing with each other and trying to achieve that highest form of listening and responding…. I definitely do focus on the band thing, from studying Miles’ quintets — especially the second great quintet, which is my favorite group. Particularly, I spent two or three years listening to Live at the Plugged Nickel almost every day, just studying the group interplay, how Miles would direct the band from what he played or didn’t play. I’m just really big on that type of group interaction and trying to communicate without words.”

Good Vibes is a unified group effort lead by Joel Ross (vibraphone and compositions) that first came together when the members were studying together at the Brubeck Institute. It includes saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, who can be also be found in the groups of Jason Moran, Michelle Rosewoman, George Cables, Theo Crocker, Gerald Clayton, Elena Pinderhughes, Giveton Gelin and his own quartet.  Pianist Jeremy Corren is a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, a Silver Award winner in the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts ‘YoungArts’ program, a 5-time winner in the DownBeat Student Music Awards, a 3-time performer at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and a ‘musical ambassador’ in the Thelonious Monk Institute Peer-to-Peer Education Program. Bassist Kanoa Mendenhall has performed with Cecil McBee, Bruce Forman, Allison Miller, Roy McCurdy, Ingrid Jensen, and Pheeroan akLaff at numerous venues including the Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ, the Jazz Gallery, Roulette, Umbria Jazz Festival, and others. She is on the faculty of Jazz Camp West and Stanford Jazz Workshop. Drummer Jeremy Dutton performs with Ambrose Akinmusire, Camila Mesa, Gerald Clayton, Vijay Iyer, Taylor Eigsti, Jacky Terrasson, Mike Moreno, James Francies, Benito Gonzalez, Keyon Harold, Maria Grand, Matt Stevens, Andre Hayward, Philip Dizack, Matt Penman, Stefon Harris, Bobby Watson, Allan Hampton, Dayna Stephens, and many others.

The music that Joel Ross and Good Vibes will be bringing to the Vermont Jazz Center is steeped in the history of jazz, but it is also inclusive, welcoming and immersed in the music of today’s younger generation. It is its own, unique creation, a beautiful synergy that combines familiar language with new information. Ross’ music seamlessly gathers all these facets into a unifying construct through its heartbeat-like attention to rhythm. The music might sound effortless, but it is not easy. The compositions were composed primarily during Ross’ tenure at the Brubeck Institute. In his interview with Capitol Bop, Ross said “A lot of the music on KingMaker I was writing just to challenge myself because I couldn’t play some of those harmonies or riffs. So a lot of the music, when I wrote it, I couldn’t play it…When I moved to New York, finally I got some cats who could play it.” Now Ross and Good Vibes are touring the world, playing his music and making it sound easy. Good Vibes is now getting great reviews.

Come to the Jazz Center on Saturday, March 14th and enjoy Good Vibes’ unique, new sounds; hear for yourself why Nate Chinen of the New York Times claims that “[Ross is a] bright young vibraphonist on his own rocket-like trajectory…”  The VJC is honored to host this young assemblage of master musicians and is grateful for the sponsorship of this event by Julian Gerstin and Carlene Raper, two individuals who have again and again selflessly given to the VJC’s mission and benefited the community at large in numerous ways. This concert will likely sell out, so be sure to purchase tickets in advance. The VJC is thankful for the ongoing support of Holiday Inn Express Suites of Brattleboro.  Publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WNPR and WFCR.

Tickets for Joel Ross: Good Vibes at the Vermont Jazz Center are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available online at, by email at, and at In the Moment in Brattleboro.  Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line at 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC at 802 254 9088

Video for “Yana”

Live at Smalls

From new Blue Note Album, Ill Relations

With Makaya McCraven, playing a solo on the song Makaya wrote for him, “Young Genius:”

As a precocious 16 year old (duo with pianist Eric Reed – ‘Round Midnight)



Press Release – Author’s credit to Eugene Uman, Vermont Jazz Center, 802 254 9088,


Short Summary

Today’s date: 3/3/20


Who: Joel Ross “Good Vibes:” Joel Ross, vibraphone; Immanuel Wilkens, saxophone; Jeremy Corren, piano; Kanoa Mendelhall, bass; Jeremy Dutton, drums

What: Young jazz masters explore the synergy of the bebop language with the rhythms of today’s generation

When: Saturday, March 14th, 2020 at 8:00 PM

Where: The Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, #222, Brattleboro, VT 05301

Tickets available:  online at, by email at, by phone 802 254 9088 x1, in person at In The Moment, 143 Main St., Brattleboro, VT.

Comments | 1

  • Jazz Center sent this out

    “Dear Friends,

    We spoke with Joel Ross’ management team and the band is excited to play at the Jazz Center this coming Saturday. However, the VJC would like to offer the following suggestions to our community and attendees:

    1. If you have a fever or respiratory illness, please do not visit the VJC.

    2. On Saturday, there will be hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes available in the lobby and we suggest everyone who attends to make use of it upon arrival.

    3. Anyone who has recently traveled to countries with a CDC Warning Level 3 travel advisory, should not visit the the VJC without clearance of their MD. These countries currently include China, Italy, Iran and South Korea.

    4. Keep yourself informed through the CDC website:

    We thank you for keeping yourselves and others as safe a possible at this time and we look forward to sharing the music with you as we’re able.

    Vermont Jazz Center”

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