The Vermont Jazz Center will celebrate its 45th season by offering an online version of its annual Summer Jazz Workshop from August 9-14, 2020. In the spirit of moving forward, the VJC has developed a structure to share the love of jazz and the wisdom of the faculty as a temporary replacement for its traditional summer jazz workshop in Putney, Vermont. This year’s program features an expanded faculty, a new take on masterclasses, plus two new features: “Hot Topics” and “Zoom Tunes,” as well as a composition course led by Helen Sung as part of our theory curriculum.
Called “Zoom Into Jazz,” 2020’s workshop welcomes a handful of new masterclass instructors on bass (Linda Oh, Genevieve Rose, David Picchi), drums (Clarence Penn, Corey Fonville), piano (Shamie Royston, Maya Keren, Miro Sprague), trumpet (Rachel Therrien, Ray Vega) and saxophone (Felipe Salas) to complement VJC’s stellar faculty (see below for a full list). The masterclasses will focus on different, daily topics – transcribing, comping, improvising, electric or acoustic instruments, note sets, etc. Each teacher will define the parameters of their own offerings.
The Convergence Quartet to Perform at the Vermont Jazz Center, Saturday, June 20th at 8:00 PM
The Vermont Jazz Center presents a live stream event with Eugene Uman’s Convergence Trio with special guest Wanda Houston on Saturday, June 20th at 8:00 PM. The group includes Uman on piano, Houston on vocals, David Picchi on electric piano and Jon Fisher on drums.
The Vermont Jazz Center is excited to present an online event on Saturday, May 23rd and Sunday, May 24th with drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science. The activities will be livestreamed from the VJC’s website at www.vtjazz.org beginning at 8:00 pm on Saturday and continuing Sunday, May 24th, from 2:00 – 5:00 PM. Saturday will feature a musical presentation and Sunday will be three separate masterclasses including Q&As with audience members.
The core of Social Science is Carrington on drums, pianist Aaron Parks and guitarist Matthew Stevens. This trio is expanded to a sextet on their recent double-length recording, Waiting Game, and, at the VJC event, will include multi-instrumentalist Morgan Guerin on bass and saxophone, as well as vocalists Kassa Overall and Debo Ray.
The Vermont Jazz Center is proud to present its 4th Annual Solo Jazz Piano Festival the weekend of April 24-25th in live streaming format. Each of the artists will be performing from the comfort of their own home or a close-by piano studio using digital streaming technology to present their sets live, directly on the Vermont Jazz Center’s webpage. The Festival will be run using the same format as past years: Friday and Saturday evening feature concerts, Saturday daytime classes and emerging artist concerts, and a late afternoon panel discussion amongst all the artists. The performers will be NEA Jazz Master Toshiko Akiyoshi, Manuel Valera, Orrin Evans, and Shamie Royston as headliners as well as emerging artists Franz Robert, Maya Keren and Matt Twaddle. Helen Sung will moderate Saturday afternoon’s panel discussion.
The event will be free and open to the public, donations are encouraged and can be made on line via the VJC’s website.
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…”
The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes Bobby Watson and Horizon on Saturday, February 15th at 8:00 PM. Watson, on saxophone, will be joined by Rising Stars Jazz Award-winner Giveton Gelin on trumpet and a rhythm section comprised of members of the original group: pianist Edward Simon, bassist Carroll V. Dashiell and the legendary drummer Victor Lewis.
Horizon is a supergroup that performs straight-ahead, acoustic, hardbop music. According to band leader Watson, his composing style and the group’s sound is influenced by Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, and Sly and the Family Stone. Horizon does not play covers, they definitely play jazz.
The Vermont Jazz Center is delighted to present pianist/vocalist Champian Fulton on Saturday, January 18th at 8:00 PM. Fulton, a DownBeat Magazine Rising Star, was recently lauded as 2019 Female Vocalist of the Year and 2019 Pianist of the Year by Hot House Magazine/Jazzmobile. She will be performing with her working quartet of over a decade including her father, Stephen Fulton, on Flugelhorn, Hide Tanaka on bass and Fuku Tainaka on drums.
Champian Fulton swings hard – she’s a top-shelf pianist and vocalist with an expansive repertoire and a broad stylistic vocabulary. She likes to leave her sets open-ended so that she and her band can choose between familiar and little-known gems from the Great American Songbook on the fly. Considering her youthful age (34 years old), it is intriguing that Fulton’s repertoire naturally gravitates to selections from the swing era. Her whole persona, public and private, resonates with a love for the music from that time period. She conveys the essence of swing effortlessly and authentically; her performances give listeners a fresh appreciation of the creative possibilities inherent in an older style. In Fulton’s hands, swing is a vibrant, living music that resonates with meaning and joyous playfulness.
The Vermont Jazz Center’s Big Band will present its Annual Scholarship Gala on Saturday, December 7th at 8:00 PM. This year’s celebration will honor Nat King Cole’s 100th birthday-anniversary. The VJC Big Band, under the leadership of musical director Rob Freeberg, is a community orchestra made up of professional musicians who come together once a year to raise money for the VJC’s Scholarship Fund. This event is the primary funding source that helps aid scholarship students attending VJC’s educational programs. In 2019 the VJC offered $30,000 in scholarships to help students attend ensembles, private lessons and their annual summer jazz workshop.
This year’s gala will feature the arrangements of songs made famous by Nat “King” Cole, who was recognized as “one of the most influential entertainers of the 20th century” by National Public Radio. The Grammy Hall of Famer was a superstar of his time: he recorded over 150 Billboard singles and sold over 50 millions records. Cole knew he was destined for a life of music – he dropped out of high school at the age of 15 to tour as pianist in his brother Eddie’s trio and he never looked back.
The Vermont Jazz Center received a generous Arts Impact Award from the Vermont Arts Council and further support from the Windham Foundation to sponsor its second annual Emerging Arts Festival. This weekend’s activities will include a Jazz Walk during Brattleboro’s first Friday Gallery Walk. Seven different student groups will perform jazz music in five venues. The Festival will also include a Saturday afternoon workshop and evening concert at the VJC with renowned Cuban pianist, Harold López-Nussa and his quartet.
See below for schedule.
The Vermont Jazz Center is excited to present pianist Harold López-Nussa and his all-Cuban quartet on Saturday, November 2nd as part of the VJC’s Emerging Artist Festival. This event is being held in memory of the VJC’s dear friend and generous patron, Jonathan Flaccus, whose passion for Cuban music and classic bebop as well as his generosity in assisting those in need has had a great impact on the Jazz Center. This is a rare opportunity to hear the López-Nussa Quartet live, as they are based in Cuba and are coming to the VJC as part of a tour that will take them to seven venues on the East Coast as well as performances in France and the United Kingdom.
Thanks to an Arts Impact Award from the Vermont Arts Council, the Harold López-Nussa Quartet will also be presenting a free workshop on the basic building blocks of Cuban jazz performance and style at the Vermont Jazz Center at 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 2nd. This workshop is free and open to the general public. The López-Nussa Quartet concert at 8:00 PM is a ticketed event (tickets available at vtjazz.org).
The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes Grammy-winning trumpeter Nicholas Payton and vocalist Cyrille Aimée to the stage in a duo performance on Saturday, October 12th. Payton will perform on trumpet, acoustic bass, piano and Fender Rhodes; Aimée will sing and, at times, use a looping device to layer her vocals. Individually Payton and Aimée are two of the most creative musicians on the scene today, but as a duo their collaboration synergistically expands the perimeters of improvisational music. They spontaneously interact or push each other, sometimes delving into material from the American Songbook, other times exploring new sonic textures or hypnotic grooves.
SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – The Vermont Jazz Center Sextet makes a return visit to Main Street Arts in a performance Friday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. featuring the music of some of the greats of jazz.
Works by Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Art Blakey, mixed in with some original music and arrangements written by members of the ensemble, promise an up tempo experience for lovers of jazz.
The Vermont Jazz Center is thrilled to kick off its 2019-20 concert season with a very special concert on Saturday, September 14th at 8:00 PM featuring the Steve Turre Quintet. Come hear Turre perform on trombone and conch shells with Bruce Williams on saxophone and flute, Oscar Perez on piano, Corcoran Holt on bass and Orion Turre on drums. Steve Turre is regarded as one of the finest jazz trombonists in the world. His on-going recording and performing career has included fertile tenures with Ray Charles, Woody Shaw, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers to name a few. This year he is celebrating 36 years as trombonist in the Saturday Night Live band. Turre has made records with a highly diverse group of artists ranging from Dizzy Gillespie, Celia Cruz, Etta Jones, McCoy Tyner, Max Roach and John Scofield, to Carlos Santana and Mariah Carey.
The Vermont Jazz Center is delighted to present an evening of music with NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan. On Saturday, June 1st at 8:00 PM, Ms. Jordan will perform the first set with pianist Eugene Uman, bassist Genevieve Rose and drummer Billy Drummond. The second set will feature Sheila Jordan singing with several surprise-guest performers and the rhythm section. This concert is one of many festive occasions throughout the world celebrating Ms. Jordan’s 90th birthday which took place on November 18th, 2018.
Sheila Jordan is a matriarch of the Vermont Jazz Center family. She joined the faculty in 1997, when the (then) new director, Eugene Uman, asked her to run a vocal workshop as part of the Center’s newly revised summer workshop. She offered a small group of singers a three-day program that has now blossomed into a weeklong workshop with instructor Jay Clayton, 20 vocalists and two rhythm sections. Sheila Jordan’s teaching style is based on reverence for tradition, openness to spirit and dedication to quality. In her workshops, Jordan’s visceral connection with the music and her love for the students envelops their experience, creating a safe environment that gently pushes them to exceed what they had imagined was their potential. Jordan has inspired several generations of vocalists, from amateur to world-famous, most of whom are quick to acknowledge that her coaching has profoundly and positively shaped their professional and personal lives.
On Saturday May 18th, the Vermont Jazz Center will present a duo concert featuring two of Cuba’s foremost musical performers: pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and percussionist Pedrito Martinez. Their charismatic presence, a brand new album and an on-going tour of about fifty international gigs has generated tremendous excitement and expanded their circle to include listeners around the globe. In the coming months they will be touring Canada, Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US, including Brattleboro, Vermont. In the promo for their new release, Duologue, percussionist Martinez states that “what makes this duo completely different is that I came from the folkloric side and Alfredo came from the classical side.”
The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes Helen Sung and celebrates her Chamber Music America sponsored suite, “Sung With Words” on Saturday, March 30th at 8:00 PM at the Vermont Jazz Center. This show is a rescheduled date from a snowed out event on January 19, 2019. The pianist/composer will present a project that embodies the alliance of poetry and jazz and then takes it to new places. The performers in the octet are Helen Sung (piano and composition), Jason Palmer (trumpet), John Ellis (woodwinds), Charenée Wade and Carolyn Leonhart (vocals), Rick Rosato (bass), Adam Cruz (drums) and Samuel Torres (percussion).
The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes guitarist Russell Malone to its stage on March 16th. He will appear with his established quartet including pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Luke Sellick and drummer Anwar Marshall. Perhaps best known for his Grammy nominated work with vocalist Diana Krall, Malone is one of the leading guitarists on the jazz scene today.
Russell Malone is a hard-swinging guitarist also known for his evocative ballad playing. His signature sound is a full-bodied tone with long, fat, sustained notes, reminiscent of one of his early heroes, George Benson. According to his website, “on a school night when [he] should have been in bed” in 1975, he saw George Benson play “incredible things” on a TV special called “Seven Comes Eleven.” Malone quickly purchased two of Benson’s recordings, The George Benson Cookbook and Benson Burner,” which, along with Wes Montgomery’s Smokin’ At the Half Note and Boss Guitar, then set him on what he says is “a course that I have not deviated from.”
The Vermont Jazz Center is excited to present its first annual Emerging Artists Festival on Friday evening, November 2nd in downtown Brattleboro during Gallery Walk and all day Saturday, November 3rd at the Vermont Jazz Center. This event is in collaboration with area schools and colleges, the Boys and Girls Club, Strolling of the Heifers, BrattRock, Youth Services, Gallery Walk and the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance. The VJC’s goal is to use this annual Emerging Artists Festival to cultivate a greater interest and deeper knowledge of jazz amongst younger audiences, to connect with our region’s youth and ultimately boost their attendance throughout the year. As a participatory event, VJC’s Emerging Artist Festival will break down barriers to accessing the arts, especially for the region’s young people.
On Sunday, September 23, Stage 33 Live in conjunction with Black Sheep Radio presents an afternoon of world-class jazz, including a workshop and concert, with guitarists Draa Hobbs and John Stowell. The event takes place at Stage 33 Live at 33 Bridge Street in Bellows Falls, and ticket sales benefit the venue and the radio station, two non-profit community arts organizations serving the greater Bellows Falls area.
The Vermont Jazz Center is excited to lift off its 2018-19 concert season on Saturday September 15th with Trinidadian trumpeter, composer and percussionist, Etienne Charles. He will be flying in from Michigan to perform with his band Creole Soul.
Creole Soul is one the many projects that Etienne Charles uses to investigate and perform music that aligns with his Caribbean heritage. He uses this ensemble as a musical laboratory to mesh the roots music of indigenous cultures with the language and arrangements of jazz. Etienne has traveled the world, seeking connections and differences between the rhythms and forms of Caribbean folkloric music.