On Saturday, October 17th, the Vermont Jazz Center will present world-class drummer Carl Allen with his group "The Art of Elvin." This working band includes Tivon Pennicott, saxophones; Freddie Hendrix, trumpet; Xavier Davis, piano; Dezron Douglas, bass, and group leader Carl Allen on drums. Allen states: "The group is a tribute to Art Blakey and Elvin Jones and features music performed by both Art Blakey and/or Elvin Jones as well as some original music. In the tradition of both Art and Elvin the music is hard bop, gospel infused, hard swinging music that is designed to make one feel good. It's high energy as well as toe tapping."
Carl Allen is a logical torchbearer for Jones and Blakey, two of the most significant jazz drummers in the history of the music. Allen knew them both and considers them to be his mentors. While Elvin Jones and Art Blakey were being lauded as elder statesmen, Allen was an up-and-coming "young lion" busy catching them whenever he could, seeking their guidance and playing with many of the same musicians who shared their bands. He gleaned from their techniques and was able to reproduce their dramatically different feels while developing his own identity. Allen was the man chosen to fill Art Blakey's oversized shoes when Jazz Messenger's alumni came together to form a tribute band after his death. Their 1993 release, The Art of Blakey is considered a real gem.
Carl Allen's work with jazz royalty reveals his own pedigree. It includes tenures and recordings in the bands of past legends Freddie Hubbard, Jackie McLean, Dewey Redman, Dr. Billy Taylor, Phil Woods, Donald Bird, Art Farmer and Woody Shaw. It also includes tenures with living jazz luminaries Benny Golson, Benny Green, Kenny Barron, Donald Harrison, Cyrus Chestnut, Vincent Herring, Donald Brown, André Previn, Don Braden, Eric Alexander, Eric Reed, Billy Childs, Terence Blanchard, Eliane Elias, Christian McBride, Dr. John, Rickie Lee Jones and many others.
One could arguably label Allen a "straight ahead" player. He earned his stripes revering and emulating the masters who have come before him but is not close-minded. Allen can be heard playing in an Elvin "bag" on Dewey Redman's 1992 recording African Venus, and his signature shuffle sounds a lot like Blakey's, but Carl Allen has evolved and developed his own personal and recognizable sound and is a veritable shape-shifter when it comes to interpreting different styles. He told a story, revealing the moment when he accepted the need to expand his consciousness in an interview on "Open Sky" (a jazz blog): "I remember talking with Dizzy [Gillespie] after a concert we had in Japan, it was really a moment that helped to cement my mantra; it was August 16, 1987 and I said to Dizzy ... "Diz, I really wish I was around in the 40s and 50s..." He stopped and said "Carl, why would you say such a thing" - as if it was offensive. I said "just to be there when you guys were creating bebop." He said "that was an important time, but the way that all great art is created is that there's a foot in the past and a foot in the future and that you're moving forward with a sense of tradition."
When listening to Carl Allen in the context of his own groups, there's always a lot of attention paid to programming. His intentional use of variety of styles, tempos and moods creates a contour that captivates his listeners. He performs for the audience's enjoyment but never compromises the integrity, depth of swing and creativity of the music. In an interview for Modern Drummer Allen stated: "Young players have to understand the importance of being able to make the audience want to dance, which comes from having a strong sense of foundation. It's cool if you can play the hippest Elvin [Jones] lick. But the majority of your audience isn't made up of musicians. They don't sit there and think, Oh, that lick's from that record. But they will recognize if it felt good, or if it didn't."
For his performance at the Vermont Jazz Center on October 17th Carl Allen will bring with him a quintet of New York leaders: Trumpeter Freddie Hendrix has performed or recorded with the Christian McBride Big Band, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, The Jimmy Heath Big Band and Quintet, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Nicholas Paytonʼs TSO (Television Studio Orchestra), Frank Foster's Loud Minority Big Band, the Illinois Jacquet Big Band, Mike Longo Big Band, Rufus Reid Quintet/Nonet, Billy Harper Quintet, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Bobby Watson's Horizon Band, Mulgrew Miller's Wingspan, Oliver Lake Organ Quartet, T.S. Monk Sextet, Cecil Brooks III CB3 band, and the David Krakauer/Fred Wesley group.
Saxophonist Tivon Pennicott moved to New York in 2009 and has since established himself as one of the busiest players on the scene. He is two-time Grammy Award winner and took 2nd place in the Thelonius Monk Competition. He toured and recorded with guitar legend Kenny Burrell and performs or records with Gregory Porter, Dave Stryker, Esperanza Spalding, Al Foster, Roy Hargrove's RH Factor, Roy Hargrove Big Band, Nellie Mckay, Joe Thomas Ari Hoenig, E.J. Strickland, Marko Djordevic and others.
Pianist Xavier Davis is also a Grammy winner. He cut his teeth working with the legendary Betty Carter who cherry picked him while performing with his high school jazz band at a jazz convention. His resume includes performances and recordings with the Christian McBride Big Band, Freddie Hubbard, Tom Harrell, Regina Carter, Stefon Harris, Abbey Lincoln, Wynton Marsalis, Don Byron, Nat Adderley, Nicholas Payton, Jon Faddis, Joe Chambers, Dave Stryker, Jimmy Greene, Steve Turre, Al Foster, Jeremy Pelt, Ron Blake and many others.
Carl Allen pays particular attention to choosing a bassist for his ensembles. He states: "I'm a little biased but I think that's the most important relationship in the band, between the bass and the drums. Because, as my good friend Christian McBride says, 'it's the foundation and you don't start building the house from the roof.' It's the bass and the drums that create the dance and allows for the rest of the band to float on top." Playing bass for the Art of Elvin is Dezron Douglas who grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. Like many of his generation, Dezron was nourished by the strong jazz community overseen by Jackie and Dolly McLean. Dezron is currently a member of Louis Hayes Jazz Communicators, Ravi Coltrane Quartet, Papo Vazquez' Mighty Pirates and is a long standing member of The Cyrus Chestnut Trio. He has also performed or recorded with Michael Carvin, Pharoah Sanders, George Cables, Abraham Burton/Eric McPherson, Rene McLean, Al Foster, Ravi Coltrane, Billy Drummond, Steve Davis, Victor Lewis, Winard Harper, Mulgrew Miller, Lewis Nash, Kevin Mahogany, Carla Cook, Kenny Garrett, Steve Coleman, Willie Jones III, Duane Eubanks, Eric Reed, Tomasz Stanko, Vincent Herring and the Marsalis family.
Carl Allen and the Art of Elvin will perform at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro, Vermont on Saturday, October 17th. This concert is made possible due to the generous financial support of Dave Snyder and Guilford Sound. The VJC is grateful for ongoing support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hospitality for our artists is provided by the Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW and WFCR.
Tickets for Carl Allen and the Art of Elvin 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 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.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.
The Vermont Jazz Center will host a new ten-week session of classes beginning the week of September 10th. Courses include an expanded youth program for ages 10 - 16, a new ensemble led by bebop master Scott Mullett (Blue Note Ensemble), Anna Patton's popular Ear Training and Vocal Harmony Chorus and the VJC's Latin Jazz 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 Fall Education, 2015
- Monday 5:15 - 6:45 Blue Note Ensemble, Scott Mullett, instructor. First class meets Sept. 14th
- Tuesday 3:45 - 5:00 Youth Jazz Ensemble, Eugene Uman, instructor. First class meets Sept. 29th
- Wednesday 4:45 - 5:45 Latin Jazz Ensemble, Julian Gerstin and Eugene Uman, Instructors. First class meets Sept. 16th
- Wednesday 6:00 - 7:30 VJC Sextet (full), Rob Freeberg, director.
- Thursday 5:45 - 7:30 Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Anna Patton, instructor. First class meets Sept. 10th
- Thursday 7:45 - 8:45 Ear Training, Anna Patton, instructor. First class meets Sept. 10th
Blue Note Ensemble
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.
Youth Jazz Ensemble
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
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.
Women's Jazz Harmony Vocal Ensemble
Anna Patton will lead a women's vocal ensemble that will sing 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. The group is not auditioned, but does take on some challenging material.
Ear Training for Everyone
For instrumentalists, singers, and curious listeners; a class to sharpen the musical ears. We'll practice aural detective work: the most basic skill behind harmonizing, improvising, composing, and finding chord progressions. The class will be taught entirely by ear through singing, playing, and listening to recordings. It will incorporate an intuitive, applicable approach to basic music theory and will practice hearing and reproducing intervals, chords, bass lines, and rhythmic nuances. We'll investigate popular, folk, and jazz idioms - whatever intrigues us, and we'll dabble in the art of using musical ideas for our own compositions and improvisations.
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 email@example.com. You can also email Eugene Uman at firstname.lastname@example.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.
To Register, or for questions about scholarship assistance, contact Ginger Morawski at email@example.com. For questions about Anna Patton's classes, contact the instructor directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other inquiries contact Eugene Uman at email@example.com. For phone inquiries, 802 254 9088.
- September 18th (Friday), 2015 - Jamie Baum Septet
- September 19th, 2015 - Steve Wilson + Wilsonian's Grain
- October 2nd (Friday), 2015 - Emerging Artist Series: Carlos Averhoff, Jr. Quartet
- October 17th, 2015 - Carl Allen Quintet
- October 30th (Friday), 2015 - Sofia Rei Quartet (in collaboration w/Next Stage)
- November 14th, 2015 - Tribute to Jobim with Brazilian Vocalist Maucha Adnet
- December 4th (Friday), 2015 - VJC Big Band and Guest Vibraphonist, Richard Greenblatt Pay Tribute to Terry Gibbs' Dream Band
- January 23rd, 2016 - Bobby Broom Trio
- February 13th, 2016 - Eric Alexander Quartet + Scott Mullett
- March 12th, 2016 - Fred Hersch Trio
- March 26th, 2016 - Under the Radar Series: Michael Zsoldos + String Quartet
- April 16th, 2016 - Renee Rosnes Quartet
- May 14th, 2016 - Ben Williams Quartet
- June 11th, 2016 - Eugene Uman's Convergence Project
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.