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Passing of VJC Faculty Member and friend, Scott Mullett

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photo: Keene Sentinel, M. Moore

The Vermont Jazz Center community and a wide network of jazz lovers far and wide are grieving due to the loss of a dear friend and musical force. Scott Mullett passed away on January 3rd at his home near Keene, NH. We are still reeling from the news of Scott's passing so there are no set plans for a funeral or memorial service. The outpouring of love and care has been tremendous. Details will be provided as they arise.

Scott has had a tremendous impact on those of us who have had the good fortune to know him; his good works have rippled outward and benefited countless individuals, bringing joy to those who were privileged to receive his teachings, hear his elaborate stories and enjoy the clarion sound of his horn.

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Scott's generous spirit was especially felt by young people with whom he had a particular affinity: at the VJC's Summer Workshop he could be found jamming until the wee hours of the morning, giving encouragement and inspiration to musicians of all levels. He took many young people under his wing, giving them guidance and confidence, helping them make connections so that they could realize their fullest potentials. He would take students to visit colleges and connect them with his colleagues in New York and Boston. Although Scott was a man of humor and bluster, his sincerity was beyond reproach: it's as if the lives of his students were more important than his own.

To say we will miss Scott Mullett is a vast understatement. It is a huge personal loss for all who knew him and for those who felt the ripple-effect of the work he took on: The Keene Jazz Orchestra, The Vermont Jazz Center, The Northampton Jazz Workshop, Berklee College of Music and Keene State College are just a handful of the communities who have benefited from his good work.

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It is unbelievable that Scott is not with us anymore. He had struggles with his health, but to those of us who spent time with him on a regular basis he seemed invincible, conveying a powerful life spirit and projecting a vast musical current. Scott's positive energy touched so many of us - he was a proactive friend who reached out to others and made a point of communicating regularly. We are so fortunate that he touched our lives and engaged us in his fascinating world.

Wycliffe Gordon and his International All Stars to perform at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, January 13th

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Wycliffe Gordon is one of the leading jazz trombonists in the world and he will be performing at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, January 13th at 8 PM. Although he is the recipient of numerous awards, Gordon is best known for his long tenure with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. For his Vermont performance, Gordon will be joined by his touring ensemble, "The International All-stars." They are a group modeled after trumpeter Louis Armstrong's All-stars. Their music draws from and builds on Armstrong's rich and varied repertoire as demonstrated in their 2017 recording, Hello Pops, which features a varied repertoire influenced by or dedicated to Louis Armstrong. The recording even includes a New Orleans second-line brass-band tune called "Pops for President."

Ever since his youth, Gordon has been enamored with traditional jazz. In an interview with Jazz Times magazine, he reminisced about learning jazz as a teen: "I gravitated to New Orleans music because I was playing trombone and tuba at that time. Even though we as teenagers were listening to a lot of pop music... I had a five-record jazz collection that I got from my recently departed great aunt, I loved that jazz. My friends used to say, 'We all love jazz, but Wycliffe, he loves that deep jazz'...Yeah man...I would go in my garage and listen to Sonny Rollins, James P. Johnson and a whole lot of Louis Armstrong."

All the musicians in Wycliffe Gordon's International All-Stars play traditional jazz with comfortable assurance. Their improvisations are playful, yet they stylistically honor earlier versions of classics like Armstrong's Keyhole Blues and jazz standards such as When You're Smiling and Basin Street Blues. Even their originals swing hard and feel like traditional classics. Members of the International All-stars include Wycliffe Gordon (from Georgia, US) on trombone, trumpet and vocals; Adrian Cunningham, (Australia) on clarinet, flute, saxophone and vocals; Ehud Asherie (Israel) on piano: Ben Williams (Washington, DC) on double bass and Alvin Atkinson (North Carolina) on drums. Gordon says "It's easy to go anywhere musically with this group. Most of what we're doing is improvising and everyone understands the language. When you have the ability and the freedom to do that, the music can be great."

Wycliffe Gordon has been recognized as "a superior technician" and "one of the premier trombonists of our time" by Nate Chinen of the New York Times. He was the winner of the 2017 International Trombone Association (ITA) Award. On their website, ITA offers this reasoning: "His unmatched modern mastery of the plunger mute and his exceptional technique and signature sound, has solidified Gordon a place in musical history." Wycliffe's fascination and internalization of the development of the trombone throughout the evolution of jazz has resulted in his mastery of a vocabulary informed by the sounds of the instrument's earliest progenitors all the way to today's most current techniques.

In an interview with ITA in 2006, Wycliffe discussed his primary influences. Not surprisingly, many of the trombonists where members of Duke Ellington's Orchestra: "I first got into plunger-mute playing by listening to a recording of Bubber Miley on Duke Ellington's Black and Tan Fantasy. I worked and worked at re-creating this sound. I was later turned on to "Tricky Sam" Nanton, Al Grey, Tyree Glenn, and more and then began transcribing those solos as well, developing a vocabulary of various plunger styles and approaches to playing mutes." Gordon went on to discuss how listening to and transcribing other trombonists helped him develop his own voice and dynamic variety: "I rely on my imagination as well as ideas I got from listening to musicians that have come before me, such as Dickie Wells and Vic Dickenson. They utilized the trombone to emulate their personalities and characters. Vocalization was at the core of their approach. When they played, you would hear the sound of people talking, laughing, crying, screaming, as well as many other effects that can only be created with the human voice. I may hear something as simple as the way someone laughs; and if it is distinct, I'll try to imitate it and make something musical of it."

It is clear that Gordon has worked diligently at his craft and relies more on listening and persistent study than on raw talent to achieve his goals. In a recent Jazz Times, interview he recalls being asked by a student "what's the shortcut?" His reply was - "Shortcut? The shortcut is the straightest line between where you're standing and the practice room. There's no app for your ability. You have to actually do that work. You can't Google that. You have to practice." Gordon wrote a book describing his method called Sing It First. In the promo for this method he states: "If you can sing it, then you can play it, [that is my] philosophy on everything from double-tonguing to doodling to scatting. If you're having trouble executing something...work on singing it first." This tendency toward vocalization helps define Gordon's sound and is immediately apparent when listening to him improvise. Gordon's solos feel inseparable from his persona. It is as if the trombone is an extension of his voice; the instrument becomes a means to ornament his singing with mutes, growls and bends.

Gordon is also an acclaimed composer and arranger. He has published dozens of works for a variety of instrumentations including small jazz ensembles, big bands and orchestras. He has composed two film scores for silent films that were created in the 1920s by Oscar Micheaux, regarded as the first major African-American feature filmmaker. Micheaux sought to create films that would counter white portrayals of African Americans, which tended to emphasize inferior stereotypes. Gordon composed film scores for Micheaux's silent films Within These Gates of Mine (1920) and Body and Soul (1925).

The International All-stars are aptly named. Along with Gordon, we will be hearing Australian saxophonist Adrian Cunningham who has been called "indispensable to the New York jazz scene" by Hot House Magazine. He leads a band called Professor Cunningham and His Old School, which has been highly successful in its tours in the International Swing dance scene. He is a member of Grammy Award winning Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, who recorded the soundtracks for Boardwalk Empire. He has toured/recorded with Wynton Marsalis, Jonathan Batiste, Chris Potter, Geri Allen, Bucky Pizzarelli, Herlin Riley, Nate Smith, Adam Rogers, Reginald Veal, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Mintzer, Lew Soloff, Harry Allen and many others.

The pianist in the group is Israeli-born and Italian-raised Ehud Asherie, who is considered "a master of swing and stride" (The New Yorker). He has since worked with a broad range of musicians including: Eric Alexander, Roy Ayers, Peter Bernstein, Jesse Davis, Bobby Durham, Vince Giordano, Wycliffe Gordon, Scott Hamilton, Ryan Kisor, Jane Monheit, Catherine Russell, Ken Peplowski and Clark Terry. He has 12 albums out as a leader, including a solo album, Shuffle Along, which is a tribute to Eubie Blake. He also appears on the 2010 Grammy Award winning soundtrack of HBO's Boardwalk Empire.

Bassist Ben Williams is the winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition on bass. He is also the recipient of a Grammy Award for his work with Pat Metheny's Unity Band; he was voted as top overall rising star in Downbeat's 2015 Critic's Poll. Williams was chosen as bassist for the Obama White House's 2015 celebration of International Jazz Day, where he accompanied Chucho Valdéz, Paquito D'Rivera, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Trombone Shorty, Lionel Loueke, Robert Glasper and Herbie Hancock. Williams has appeared on recordings with Pat Metheny, Jacky Terrasson, George Benson, The NEXT Collective, Eric Reed and many more. He is an in-demand sideman and has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Mulgrew Miller, Chaka Khan, Terrence Blanchard, Stefon Harris, Pharrell Williams and Herbie Hancock; he appears with Don Cheadle in a recent tribute to Miles Davis called Miles Ahead.

The drummer for the group is Alvin Atkinson, Jr. As the leader of The Sound Merchants, he participated in several tours as a U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassador; as such he presented his music in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, South America, Haiti, and Africa. Atkinson also toured with an all-star group from Jazz at Lincoln Center, which performed in the Mid-East, Russia, Mali, India, and China. He has performed with Freddie Redd, Steve Wilson, Jimmy Heath, Ellis Marsalis, Barry Harris, Frank Wess, Oscar Brown Jr., Ernie Andrews, Don Braden, Houston Person, Roby Hargrove and many others.

Come find out why Wycliffe Gordon has won the Down Beat Critic's Poll as "Best Trombone" four out of the last five years, and "Trombonist of the Year" for nine years in a row from the Jazz Journalists Association. The VJC is honored to present Mr. Gordon's project honoring the great Louis Armstrong. It is likely that this concert will sell out in advance, so reserve your tickets now. The VJC is especially grateful for the sponsorship of this event by Ed Anthes and Mary Ellen Copeland, as well as a friend of the Vermont Jazz Center Summer Jazz Workshop. Their generous contributions have made this concert possible. The VJC is also thankful for the ongoing support from the Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WFCR and Olga Peters of WKVT's Green Mountain Mornings.

Tickets for Wycliffe Gordon at the Vermont Jazz Center are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, online at www.vtjazz.org, and by email at ginger@vtjazz.org. 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.

I practice singing everything that I play and vice-versa. This gives me a connection to music; and the instrument becomes what it is intended for, an extension of my voice. I practice all of the vocal inflections that I may want to emulate when I play--and I do them right away.
Wycliffe Gordon


Jazz at Lincoln Center - A Night in the Life
https://wycliffegordon.com/2017/12/a-night-in-the-life-wycliffe-gordon/

Featured with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MB3T0Pq-dE

Duo Performance of Precious Lord, demonstrating use of plunger mute while playing a heart-felt gospel standard (my favorite!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLJpBFuE2E4

More Gospel, beautiful!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS2xDmX9kag

Promo for recording with International All-Stars
https://vimeo.com/216019086

Other videos to enjoy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQRk7r6zubA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9omyVxmXx8Y

https://vimeo.com/150682271

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWqMhXbW-B8

The Vermont Jazz Center will host a new ten-week session of classes

The Vermont Jazz Center will host a new ten-week session of classes beginning in early February 2018.

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Courses include an expanded youth program for ages 10 - 16, an ensemble led by bebop master Scott Mullett (Blue Note Ensemble), Anna Patton's popular Soubrette Choir, the VJC's Latin Jazz Ensemble, and Julian Gerstin's Afro-Caribbean Percussion & Rhythms. Our new offering for this year is Ben Carr's Jazz Uke Ensemble.

Consider joining a combo and learn how to perform classic jazz compositions while being guided by one of the VJC's professional faculty. If you've never improvised, that's no problem. There are opportunities for all including classical musicians intrigued by jazz's structure and improvisational opportunities.

Sessions are 10 weeks long (except for Youth Jazz which is 8 weeks). Prices and starting dates are listed below and at vtjazz.org.

Schedule for VJC's Fall Education Opportunities: 2017
Monday 
5:15 - 6:45 PM Blue Note Ensemble. Scott Mullett, instructor.
Tuesday 
3:45 - 5:00 Youth Jazz Ensemble. Eugene Uman, instructor.
5:15 - 6:45 Uke Jazz Ensemble. Ben Carr, instuctor
Wednesday 
4:15 - 5:45 Latin Jazz Ensemble. Julian Gerstin and Eugene Uman, Instructors
6:00 - 7:30 VJC Sextet (full) Rob Freeberg, director
Thursday 
5:45 - 7:30 Soubrette Choir. Meets at Julian Gerstin and Carlene Raper's house Anna Patton, instructor 
7:00 - 8:30 Latin and African Percussion and Rhythms Julian Gerstin, instructor.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS
Blue Note Ensemble
 Instructor - Scott Mullett
. This ensemble will focus on the repertoire from landmark Blue Note recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mullett states that this era represents for him, "the heartbeat of American jazz." The repertoire performed by this ensemble will include jazz standards and originals recorded by the bands of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley and Wayne Shorter.

'Ukulele Jazz Ensemble 
Instructor - Ben Carr
. This year's offerings include a new class for ages 16 and up. This ensemble is for those interested in exploring simple jazz arrangements and melodies on the 'ukulele. This is a fun instrument; basic skills can be acquired quickly, but to play it well you have to practice! Why not use this opportunity to take your uke playing to the next level! Delve into jazz standards and Hawaiian tunes, learn a variety of strumming techniques, and improvisation techniques. We will put together interesting arrangements and sing together as well.

Youth Jazz Ensemble
 Instructor - Eugene Uman
. For youth who are interested in adding improvisation to their musical toolbox. This ensemble will use simple tunes written by jazz masters Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley and others as vehicles for taking off. The tunes we will start with are simple melodies that encourage participants to want to delve deeper into the jazz repertoire.

Latin Jazz Ensemble
 Instructors - Julian Gerstin and Eugene Uman.
 For individuals who wish to learn and play jazz influenced by rhythms of Latin America. Emphasized styles include salsa, son, rumba, danzon, bolero and cha cha chá from Cuba (and Puerto Rico); cumbia, bambucco and porro from Colombia; bossa, samba, partido alto and samba reggae from Brazil.

Soubrette Choir
: Instructor - Anna Patton
. The Soubrette Choir is a women's vocal ensemble that will sing three- and four-part harmony arrangements of songs from the swing era as well as contemporary pieces in the jazz idiom. The ensemble will work on blend and precision in close harmonies in the style of groups like the Andrews Sisters and Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. We will also spend some time working on aural skills and playing with chord progressions. Recommended for singers who read music and/or have quick ears.

Afro-Caribbean Percussion & Rhythms
: Instructor - Julian Gerstin
. The hundreds of rhythms and instruments of the Caribbean are a treasure of music and a source of inspiration for jazz and many other styles. Julian will introduce you to instruments and songs from Cuba, Brazil, Martinique and other islands, from drums of many kinds to bells, shakers, and scrapers. Players of all types of instruments will improve their rhythmic skills and creativity.

Jam Sessions
: All are invited to attend our Wednesday night jam community sessions - they're held from 8:00 - 10:00 PM every week. All levels and all instruments are invited. 

For further information, please call the VJC at 802 254 9088 and leave a message for Ginger, or contact her directly at ginger@vtjazz.org. You can also email Eugene Uman at eugene@vtjazz.org. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds, please call to find out about the VJC's scholarship and extended payment options.

Fees:
 Sessions are 10 weeks long (except for Youth Jazz which is 8 weeks). Fees are $250 for a 10 week semester, except for Latin Jazz Which is $200 and Youth Jazz which is $100.

Final Concert:
All ensembles will perform in an evening showcase following the culmination of the session.

To Register, or for questions about scholarship assistance, contact Ginger Morawski at ginger@vtjazz.org. For questions about Anna Patton's classes please contact the instructor directly at annameryl@gmail.com. For all other inquiries contact Eugene Uman at eugene@vtjazz.org. For phone inquiries, 802 254 9088.

The Vermont Jazz Center is an internationally recognized institution that provides jazz education, programming and outreach. Currently in its 40th year, it was founded in 1974 by the legendary guitarist, Attila Zoller and is now run by pianist, Eugene Uman.

The VJC features a summer jazz workshop, a monthly concert series, Wednesday night jam sessions, and frequent collaborations with area schools, arts organizations and businesses.

Mission: The Vermont Jazz Center is dedicated to creating and preserving jazz through the presentation of workshops, concerts, and instruction to a broad constituency of artists, students, and the general public.

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Keep in touch
Upcoming Concerts
Wycliffe Gordon's International All Stars, January 13th, 2018
January 13th, 2018, 8:00 PM
Marquis Hill Blacktet, February 17th, 2018
February 17th, 2018, 8:00 PM
Jazzmeia Horn, March 10th, 2018
March 10th, 2018, 8:00 PM
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Handicap Accessible
Concerts at the VJC are handicap accessible.

SEATING: For wheelchair or other handicapped seating at concerts, please call in advance, 802-254-9088 or 802-579-5515.

PARKING AND ENTRANCE: The Cotton Mill’s handicapped entrance is on the south side (on your right as you enter the parking lot). There is one van-accessible parking spot next to this entrance. Other handicapped spots are located along the west side of the building (facing you as you enter the parking lot. There is no handicapped entrance or elevator on this side.

ELEVATOR: To get to VJC on the second floor, you’ll need to use the freight elevator. At the handicapped entrance, pass the flight of stairs and go through the door on your left, into the building's loading area. The elevator is at the far end of the loading area. If you have someone to assist you, make sure they open and close both the elevator’s gate and main door, both from inside (to run it) and when you exit (so other people can use it). If you need assistance with the elevator, call us. We appreciate a call ahead of time but you can also call when you arrive, and we’ll send someone right down. 802-254-9088 or 802-579-5515.

RESTROOMS: Accessible restrooms are located at the far end of the building. As you exit our concert space take a left, and at the end of the hall take a right. They’re pretty far. Leave yourself time.

Please call to discuss arrangements to facilitate your enjoyment of this concert: (802) 254 9088, ext. 2.

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