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Adam O'Farrill and his quartet, Stranger Days, will perform at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, April 29th at 8:00 PM.
O'Farrill is an award-winning first call trumpeter from Brooklyn. He is a regular member of the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra (led by his Grammy-award winning father, Arturo O'Farrill) and the ensembles of Rudresh Mahanthappa. He can be found performing and recording with top artists such as Christian McBride, Vijay Ayer, Jason Lindner and others. Adam's quartet, Stranger Days, is the band he created to hone his compositions and develop his unique notions of form, improvisation and interaction. It is a collaborative project he shares with his brother, drummer Zack O'Farrill, saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and bassist Walter Stinson. They are good friends who practice together, talk deeply about music and develop ideas as a team; they are four brilliant musicians striving to get to the core of a unified concept.
The music we will hear at the Vermont Jazz Center on April 29th is an example of what happens when young, talented minds come together to create in an unfettered, nurturing environment. Following O'Farrill's vision, this group has developed unique forms and devised an improvisational vocabulary that has evolved into a new set of musical rules that have never been explored in this way before. The structures they generate are influenced by O'Farrill's passions for cinema and video gaming and they assemble jazz-based compositions that tell stories inspired by these passions. Zack O'Farrill (Adam's brother) describes the programmatic nature of the music in the liner notes of their self-titled album: "The compositions on this record aren't about blowing solos, they're about telling stories, creating sets and scenes...each instrument is taking on a specific role as a character...In rehearsals we spend a lot of time discussing what the narrative direction of the composition is and how our playing should reflect that."
When listening to the music of Stranger Days we are uplifted by danceable grooves and propelled by an implied storyline. We eagerly follow the quartet's lead, trusting them as well-versed tour guides through a maze of melodic and rhythmic twists and turns. This is heady, youthful music, but all it takes is a little concentration to enter their world. We are all enthusiastically invited, and age never limits accessibility. Once inside of Stranger Days' realm we are engaged by the ensemble's unified purpose and captivated by the coloristic visions they collectively morph into musical events. This group takes their cinematic concept to heart; they manifest characters and create storylines that beckon our curious ears toward unexpected sub-plots, developments and climaxes. Magic is created when the four musicians become characters within a story, each individual playing his part within the fabric of the narrative, each coaxing a wide variety of sounds and emotional palettes from their instruments. As a unit, they swing hard and use dynamics, humor and the jazz language in a masterful blend as dictated by the compositions. Their clarity of ideas, virtuosic ease, self-confidence and the playfulness that they share with the audience is generated from having worked intensively on this project for several years. Zach O'Farrill's comments in the liner notes point out that their ideas didn't evolve from a traditional jazz education but from inquisitive searching and relationship building: "This band is built on friendship and stupid jokes...more importantly...Stranger Days is built on trust.
It is remarkable to think that Adam O'Farrill was born in 1994; his prescient ideas are so fully conceived that it seems as if his concepts were born fully formed. But young trailblazers like Louis Armstrong have been at the forefront of jazz since the music's inception. Miles Davis by his 24th birthday had already apprenticed with Bird and was deep into exploring the colors of his bebop-influenced nonet. Young, thirsty, creative musicians are the ones we can learn the most from. If we can accept their radical, new perspectives then they have given us the eyes to witness the edge of the curve.
About the Band:
Adam O'Farrill took 3rd place in the Thelonious Monk competition and is a recent graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. He just completed a commission and performance at the Jazz Gallery for voice and septet called "I'd Like My Life Back." O'Farrill has written film scores and was commissioned by the Baltimore-based chamber duo, The Witches, to write a piece for their project called "Behind the Curtain" which celebrates femininity and female leaders of the world today. His father is the jazz pianist and bandleader Arturo O'Farrill with whom he performs in the Grammy-award winning Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra; his grandfather is the legendary composer/arranger Chico O'Farrill who wrote for Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Count Basie, Bennie Goodman, Stan Kenton (Charlie Parker was featured soloists in his Manteca Suite). Adam also co-leads the O'Farrill Brothers band which released their debut album Giant Peach in 2011 and Sensing Flight in 2013. This recording received a 4-star review in DownBeat and was listed in the Top 50 Albums of 2013 by JazzTimes. O'Farrill has performed with Vijay Iyer and many other significant artists of our time. As a regular member of alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa's group, (comma added) Adam appears prominently in the recording Bird Calls, which received Downbeat's Best Jazz Album of the year and was selected as one of NPR's Best Albums in 2015.
The saxophonist of Stranger Days is Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, a graduate of the Brubeck Institute in California and a multiple DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award winner. Lefkowitz-Brown has performed on television with pop icons Taylor Swift and Don Henley. He has shared the stage and recorded with some of the most influential names in jazz including Clarence Penn, Dave Brubeck, McCoy Tyner, Christian McBride, Amina Figarova, and Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. He has performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Monterey Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, the Super Bowl, the GRAMMY awards, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola and Blues Alley. Drummer Zack O'Farrill has explored hip-hop, electronic music, and 20th century classical music. He records and performs with his father, Arturo O'Farrill, with whom he has appeared or assisted on 5 albums including 2 Grammy-award winning recordings. He is co-leader of the collaborative Marques Stinson O'Farrill Trio which released their debut album, Pa'lante, and currently runs the Liberté Big Band in Brooklyn. Stranger Days will also be joined by Walter Stinson on bass.
The Vermont Jazz Center is pleased to present Adam O'Farrill's Stranger Days as part of its Emerging Artist Series. Jazz music is in good hands thanks to younger generation musicians like Adam and Stranger Days who are already so accomplished and so clear about their calling. It is incumbent upon us lovers of music to support these young artists as they establish their identity and share their vision. Will Layman of PopMatters writes: "Adam O'Farrill, just a kid, feels like a headline flying off the front of the Times: sizzling and sharp, assured the way you dream of being, and unable to play an obvious line, a cliché, a standard phrase." O'Farrill's music is unique in its conception and adheres to new developments in jazz that are worthy of our utmost attention.
The VJC is grateful to Ed Anthes and Mary Ellen Copeland who are generous friends dedicated to the advancement of music and ideas. They have sponsored this concert as a means to support the VJC's mission of bringing a youthful voice to our programming and expanding our community's definition of jazz and improvised music. Without their generous contributions this concert would not be possible. The VJC is also thankful for the ongoing assistance from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WFCR and Chris Lenois of WKVT's Green Mountain Mornings.
Tickets for Adam O'Farrill's Stranger Days that will take place on April 29th at 8:00 PM 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 email@example.com. 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.
Adam O'Farrill Website: https://www.adam-ofarrill.com/
With the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvgloLoFnho
Thelonious Monk Competition - performance of Strayhorn's UMMG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNUEzcecFRw
With Olli Hirvonen's New Helsinki: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StqnGIj14CM
With Rudresh Mahanthappa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_GbhDvLuKQ
Bird Calls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEcjYSnT92Q&list=PLBcibDzaiHWpr4f0R3QCV2Q6_iQ3scJ4_
The Vermont Jazz Center will begin its 10-week long semester of Spring/Winter educational programs the week of February 6th, 2017. Sessions are 8 to 10 weeks long. Starting dates and fees are listed below and at vtjazz.org. The semester will culminate in a concert with a set performed by each of the groups. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. Please visit the VJC's website (www.vtjazz.org) or call or email Office Manager, Ginger Morawski to register or find out about scholarship and extended payment options: 802 254 9088, firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: Latin Jazz Ensemble and Latin and African and Percussion and Rhythms begins the week before official start date of the semester.
5:15 - 6:45 Blue Note Ensemble, Scott Mullett, instructor, February 6th start date
The Blue Note Ensemble focuses 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.
7:00 - 9:00 Valley Rock Choir, Tony Lechner, instructor, Start date set by instructor
Tony Lechner, has been conducting choirs in the Northampton Massachusetts region for over a decade under the auspices of Valley Jazz Choirs. He uses the VJC to rehearse his rock choir on Monday evenings at 7:00 PM. Contact Mr. Lechner directly for starting date and fee information. To register: email@example.com
3:45 -5:00 Youth Jazz Ensemble, Eugene Uman, instructor. February 7th start date (8 week session)
For youth age 10 - 16 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.
5:30 - 7:15 Soubrette Jazz Choir, Anna Patton instructor, February 7th start date.
Formerly called "Women's Harmony Jazz Choir"
The Soubrette Jazz Choir is a 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. The semester will end with performances in mid/late May and early June TBD. If you have any questions regarding the musical content and how you might fit in, please contact Anna directly - firstname.lastname@example.org.
4:15 - 5:45 Latin Jazz Ensemble, Julian Gerstin and Eugene Uman, instructors. February 1st start date*
For musicians 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.
8:00 - 10:00 VJC Wednesday Night Jam Sessions, On-going
All are invited to attend our Wednesday night jam community sessions which are held from 8:00 - 10:00 PM every week. All levels and all instruments are invited. A $3.00 donation is suggested for listeners and players. The jam sessions were especially important in past times for musicians to learn from each other and review the jazz repertoire. Today is no exception. A supportive environment prevails in order to encourage musicians who can, at a minimum, play through a melody. Most musicians also use the opportunity to explore their improvising "chops." Sessions are attended by a myriad of musicians from diverse backgrounds. High School and college students are especially urged to attend. This open jam at the Vermont Jazz Center has been taking place since 1997 and is a means for young and old to hone their skills together. Led by Eugene Uman and Robby Roiter.
7:00 - 8:30 PM Latin/African Perc. and Rhythms, Julian Gerstin, instructor. February 2nd start date*
Gerstin offers an overview of percussion instruments from African and Latin America and includes active jamming using authentic rhythms. This class is a hands-on approach to learning and playing many instruments and styles, or, as the instructor says "more than bongo and cowbell." Gerstin has studied at the source - he is a musicologist who earned his doctorate immersing himself in the song/dance/drumming tradition of Martinique. A life-long student, Julian has studied with masters of disparate styles from West Africa, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil and beyond, generously sharing what he has learned with his students. He will introduce participants to instruments from Ghana, Cuba, Brazil and Martinique, from drums of many kinds to bells, shakers, and scrapers. Participants will learn basic techniques and grooves for each instrument.
List of Classes and Ensembles at Vermont Jazz Center for Spring Semester
Blue Note Ensemble, 5:15 - 6:45, Scott Mullett
Brattleboro Rock Chorus, 7:30 - 9:00, Tony Lechner
Youth Jazz Ensemble, 3:45 - 5:00, Eugene Uman
Soubrette Jazz Choir, 5:30 - 7:15, Anna Patton*
Latin Jazz Ensemble, 4:15 - 5:45, Gerstin/Uman
VJC Sextet (full), 6:00 - 7:30, Rob Freeberg
Jam Session, 8:00 - 10:00, Uman/Roiter
Latin and African Perc. and Rhythms, 7:00 - 8:30, Gerstin
The Vermont Jazz Center instructors are committed to the jazz ethic of passing the tradition on and keeping it alive. Their ability to pull beautiful music out of even beginners is phenomenal. Their contributions to our community cannot be overstated.
~Susie Webster-Toleno, parent of youth ensemble student
Dear Jazz Community,
Here at the VJC we are experiencing the power of the arts firsthand. Just the day after the elections, we gathered in rehearsals, classes, and jam sessions recognizing that in spite of everything, music brings us together, opens us up, and gives us a medium to relate with each other directly. Music transforms our angst into something both palpable and transparent that can lead to healing and action. We use art as a vehicle for critical expression, a pathway to memory and a conduit for joy and sadness.
In a letter to the community that can be found in our concert brochure, I quoted Curtis Reed, the director of Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity: "Now is the time not to anguish, but to act!" The Jazz Center's mission includes providing a safe space to act, to create and to listen to music that is both in the moment and connected to a venerable history. It gives voice to struggle and peace to the weary.
It seems odd during these times to be asking for your support, but sustaining arts and educational programs now feels more important than ever, especially for the future of our youth. Please join me in increasing our efforts to spread the positive message of jazz in our community and beyond.
Follow the link to donate to the Vermont Jazz Center. Your contributions are fully tax-deductible.
Thank you for sustaining our mission!
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.