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The Vermont Jazz Center Presents the Donny McCaslin Quartet


Performance date - Saturday, March 24th, 2018 at 8:00 PM

The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes innovative composer/saxophonist Donny McCaslin to the stage on March 24th at 8:00 PM. He will perform with his touring quartet that includes Jason Lindner on keyboards, Jonathan Maron of Groove Collective on bass and Nate Wood of Kneebody on drums. McCaslin and Lindner performed on David Bowie's final album, Blackstar, which earned 5 Grammy Awards; it was released two days after Bowie's death from liver cancer. McCaslin accepted the Grammy for Best Rock Performance on Bowie's behalf in 2016. In his acceptance speech at the award ceremony, McCaslin stated "the course of my life as an artist and person changed when I met David in the summer of 2014. Working with him introduced me to an artistic genius, a kind man and a funny-as-hell guy. In one email during the early stages of recording Blackstar, he sent me the following message: 'Donny, the structure of the song is sound, but now we need to throw a penlight beam on the rest like a P.I. scouting a motel room. I'm so excited I just vomited up a 1967 Mercedes.' That's how it was with him: collaborative, funny and always ready to try new things."

McCaslin and Lindner were awed by Bowie's presence, as well as by the focus and intention he brought to each moment. McCaslin remembers "when he walked in the room there was this real presence about him...he was in the moment and you felt him taking everything in... he was connected with the environment and completely engaged." McCaslin knew that, as a young man, Bowie had been a big fan of jazz titans Stan Kenton and Gil Evans and that he had just recorded with the Maria Schnieder Jazz Orchestra. After receiving a batch of demo sketches and a green light from Bowie to "go for whatever you're hearing," McCaslin arrived at the studio well prepared. He arranged the tunes to include horn lines that utilized the different wind instruments he played (various saxophones and flutes) while keeping in mind the colorful harmonies of the Kenton and Evans orchestras. Jason Lindner then beefed up the sounds by overdubbing keyboard textures, employing nine keyboards and an array of effects. Together the created Bowie's final masterpiece. To experience the full intensity of this recording check out Bowie's video of the song "Lazarus" on YouTube. This masterpiece truly demonstrates the brilliance of his concept; one can feel the universal significance of the music and the power and commitment of the band's interpretation.

McCaslin and Lindner were joined On Blackstar by bandmates Tim Lefebvre on bass and Mark Guiliana on drums. The quartet had worked closely as a team for several years prior to meeting Bowie. In 2012 they recorded the Grammy nominated album Casting for Gravity and in 2015 they released Fast Future. After Bowie's passing in 2016, they chose to record an album that was inspired by the profound impact they felt working with him. They channeled that inspiration into a heavy jazz-rock album called Beyond Now. In a review of this recording, AllMusic.com claims "because of their association with Bowie, the quartet's [new album] Beyond Now will get attention from a wider range of music fans than a jazz album normally would. But this record warrants attention on its own merits because it showcases the exciting, genre-blurring sound of a sophisticated band coming into its own." This is the material that McCaslin and Lindner will be presenting at the Jazz Center with bassist Jonathan Maron and drummer Nate Wood. Their quartet draws on their synergetic relationship with Bowie and showcases three of his pieces: "Lazarus" from Blackstar, "Warzawa" from Low and "A Small Plot of Land" from Outside. McCaslin has reminisced about Bowie's compositions by saying "I think the commonality...is the looseness about those tunes; there's something about those tunes that makes great bridges between what he did and what we do." Their repertoire also includes several McCaslin originals and it covers compositions created by Mutemath and Deadmau5.

McCaslin's music is more architectural than melodic. He is a master of structure who employs sounds and rhythm as building blocks that evolve into deep, mesmerizing grooves. Melody is one of the many components that McCaslin uses in his compositions and arrangements to outline the form and to add beauty. Listeners attuned to this approach can experience the group's conscious use of rhythm, timbre, chord progressions and motivic development to create elaborate sonic spaces in real-time. Many of the compositions we will hear at the Vermont Jazz Center's concert will grow and morph until they explode in joyful exuberance.

McCaslin's advanced conceptual approach hasn't come out of thin air. At the age of 12 he performed with his father, who is also a professional jazz musician, and in high school put together a group which performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival and toured Europe and Japan. He earned a full scholarship to Berklee School of Music and, as a senior, joined vibraphonist and Berklee faculty member Gary Burton's ensemble. He later replaced Michael Brecker in Steps Ahead and remained with them for several years. McCaslin has been a member of groups led by George Gruntz, Gil Evans, Maria Schneider, Santi Debriano, Uri Caine, Denilo Perez and many others. He has recorded 12 records as a leader and has appeared on over 300 recordings.

Jason Lindner is a perfect counterpart for McCaslin's relationship with sound and structure. He is an analog keyboard nerd, a technically adroit pianist and a sonic sculptor. He has led his own big band and was house pianist at Smalls in New York for many years. Lindner comes to keyboards with a strong appreciation for the lineage of jazz by having studied with bebop guru Barry Harris. Lindner has seven albums out as a leader/co-leader and has appeared on over 150 recording projects including discs by Claudia Acuña, Avishai Cohen, Meshell Ndegeocello, Anat Cohen, Omer Avital, Dafnis Prieto, Ben Allison, The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (Arturo O'Farrill) and others. Lindner discussed his use of analog keyboards and his abilities to mesh them with both jazz and rock-oriented projects in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2015: "genres, to me, are more about energy and the type of feeling you get than technical stuff...Above and beyond a certain level of artistry, genre just falls away completely."

Jonathan Maron will be playing electric bass with the quartet. He is well-known as the founder of Groove Collective a band that toured internationally and released eight albums including their Grammy-nominated People People Music Music.  He can be heard on over 175 recordings including Maxwell's platinum selling "Ascenscion (Don't Ever Wonder)"  as well as projects with  Meshell Ndegeocello, Tupac Shakur, Shujaat Khan, Dave Douglas, Jewel, Indie Arie, Donny McCaslin, Anoushka Shankar, Kurt Rosenwinkel and many others.
The quartet's drummer is Nate Wood who graduated from the California Institute of the Art where he studied with Charlie Haden and Joe Labarbara. He is a founding member of the Grammy nominated group Kneebody and has toured the world many times over with pop/rock band The Calling. Nate has performed and/or recorded with artists including George Harrison, Wayne Krantz, Tigran, Donny McCaslin, John Tesh, Chaka Khan, and Sting.
Fans of David Bowie and jazz-rock are in for an unforgettable evening as Donny McCaslin brings his quartet featuring Jason Lindner to the Vermont Jazz Center on March 24th. As Nate Chinen, jazz critic for the New York Times claimes, "The group has a bedrock relationship with groove, but also a genius for permutation." Their sonic explorations will expand the perimeters of our expectations. The Vermont Jazz Center is especially grateful for the sponsorship of Dave Snyder, owner and engineer of Guilford Sounds Studio. Thanks to Snyder's generous support, the VJC is able to present this concert at an affordable price. The VJC is also thankful for the ongoing support from the Holiday Inn Express of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WFCR and Olga Peters of WKVT's Green Mountain Mornings.

Tickets for the Donny McCaslin Quartet 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, or online at www.vtjazz.org, by email at ginger@vtjazz.org. Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC at 802 254 9088.

Bowie's Lazarus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JqH1M4Ya8

Vermont Jazz Center to launch a new semester of classes starting on week of February 12th


The Vermont Jazz Center will host a new ten-week session of classes beginning the week of February 12th. Courses include Youth Jazz for ages 10 through high school, Anna Patton's Soubrette Choir, the Latin Jazz Ensemble, the Jazz Uke Ensemble, and NEW THIS SEMESTER is the Jazz Guitar Ensemble with instructor Draa Hobbs. The VJC also welcomes drummer Claire Arenius as the new instructor of the Blue Note Ensemble. Sadly, Scott Mullett, one of the VJC's favorite and most dedicated instructors, passed away on January 3rd (for more information about Scott go to www.vtjazz.org).

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 and will begin on Feb. 27). The classes will culminate in a concert on Thursday, May 10th at the VJC. Prices and starting dates are listed below and at vtjazz.org. Sessions are $250 (excepting Latin Jazz which is $200 and Youth Jazz which is $100). Please visit vtjazz.org for further information.

Schedule for VJC's Fall Education Opportunities: 2017

2:30 - 4:00 PM NEW: Jazz Guitar Ensemble - Draa Hobbs, instructor. First class meets February 18th

5:15 - 6:45 PM Blue Note Ensemble - Claire Arenius, instructor. First class meets February 12th

3:45 - 5:00 Youth Jazz Ensemble - Eugene Uman, instructor First class meets February 27th
5:15 - 6:45 Uke Jazz Ensemble (At VJC) - Ben Carr, instructor First class meets on February 6th
5:30 - 7:15 Soubrette Choir Meets at 62 Spruce Street, Brattleboro Anna Patton, instructor First class meets February 13th

4:15 - 5:45 Latin Jazz Ensemble - Julian Gerstin and Eugene Uman, Instructors. First class meets February 14th
6:00 - 7:30 - VJC Sextet (full) Rob Freeberg, director

Information on the courses:

NEW: Jazz Guitar Ensemble
Instructor, Draa Hobbs
The Jazz Guitar Ensemble will focus on music from the bop and post-bop eras and will include compositions written by Wayne Shorter and others. The overall goal is to improve our listening skills - to play with others, and to blend in while maintaining your own musical integrity and individuality. Students will learn a variety of skills, including Intros and endings, chord vocabulary and substitutions as well as tips on improvising and style. Students will also be assigned a transcribing exercise.

Blue Note Ensemble
Instructor, Claire Arenius
This ensemble will focus on the repertoire from landmark Blue Note recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Scott 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 Jazz Choir is a women's vocal ensemble led by Anna Patton that works up intricate vocal arrangements of Swing, Jazz, and Blues, as well as songs in those idioms by contemporary composers. A Soubrette is an opera or musical theater term for the non-leading lady - usually more worldly, instrumental in the plot intrigue, and funnier than the lead. We tend to sing these kinds of songs. Each semester we work up a short set of songs, culminating in two or three performances. We work on blend and precision in close harmonies, syncopated rhythms, and understanding chord progressions. We work mostly from written music and occasionally by ear. Recorded practice demos are available. While the choir is not auditioned, it is recommended for singers who like a challenge, read music, and have good ears. If you have any questions regarding the musical content and how you might fit in, please contact Anna directly annameryl@gmail.com. Note - this class meets at 62 Spruce Street in Brattleboro, not at the VJC.

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.

Check out the VJC's website at www.vtjazz.org and find class descriptions and further information on all the VJC's offerings. The phone number at the VJC is 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.

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 a short set on the evening of May 10th at the VJC.

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

Passing of VJC Faculty Member and friend, Scott Mullett


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.


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.


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.

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.

Keep in touch
Upcoming Concerts
Donny McCaslin Quartet featuring Jason Lindner, March 24th, 2018
March 24th, 2018, 8:00 PM
Solo Jazz Piano Festival, April 13 to 15, 2018
April 13 to 15, 2018, 8:00 PM
Chico Pinheiro Quartet on May 12th, 2018
May 12th, 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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