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VJC Big Band Pays Tribute to Terry Gibbs' Dream Band

December 4th (Friday), 2015 VJC Big Band Pays Tribute to Terry Gibbs' Dream Band

Rob Freeberg, Director
Richard Greenblatt, Guest Vibraphonist
Jill Connolly, Guest Vocalist, Mark Anagostopulos, Guest Vocalist

The Vermont Jazz Center will present its annual big band swing gala on Friday, December 4th at 8:00 PM. All proceeds will support the VJC's Scholarship Program. This year's concert will feature the music of world-class vibraphonist Terry Gibbs and his Dream Band. The VJC will use the same arrangements that Gibbs' Ensemble performed during the group's apex that took place in the late 1950s and early '60s.

Based out of Los Angeles, Gibbs' Dream Band is still recognized as one of the best big bands to emerge after the bebop movement. It included heavy hitters Mel Lewis, Joe Maini, Frank Rosolino, Conte Candoli and Richie Kamuca and was given the title of "Best Band in the World" in Downbeat's 1962 Critic's Poll. Arrangers for the Dream Band were some of the finest jazz composers of the time including Bill Holman, Med Flory, Shorty Rogers, Lennie Niehaus, Marty Paich, Al Cohn, Bob Brookmeyer and Manny Albam. They initially featured new arrangements of compositions made famous by their predecessors: Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. There was such a buzz about the Dream Band that during its heyday audiences of 300 regularly packed their Los Angeles home base, a club called The Seville, where famous movie stars and jazz musicians thronged to hear the West Coast's best jazz artists playing hip arrangements of their favorite songs. Drummer Mel Lewis who later went on to lead the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra at New York's Village Vanguard was quoted as saying: "I don't think there was ever a better band than this one, including my own."

The 17-piece Vermont Jazz Center Big Band acquired some of the sheet music of Gibbs' Dream band and searched for a vibraphonist who could stand in for the virtuosic and hard-swinging Gibbs (who is now a feisty 91 years old). Fortunately, Berklee College of Music professor Rich Greenblatt, who often performs with area guitarist Draa Hobbs, was available - he took on this project with gusto, delighted by the level of writing and the prospect of reinterpreting such significant material. Rich has played in jazz and blues festivals in the U.S. and Europe and has recorded with The Be-Bop Guitars, The Jazz Composers' Alliance, The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, The Paramount Brass Quintet and others. He has performed with Kurt Elling, Billy Mitchell, Kevin Hayes, Valery Ponamarev, Bill Charlap, Greg Hutchinson, Dennis Irwin, Winard Harper, Joe Hunt, Teddy Charles and Oscar Castro-Neves.

The VJC Big Band will also feature vocalists Jill Connolly and Mark Anagnostopulos, two gems who can be found singing in clubs and concert venues throughout New England. The VJC big band is directed by trumpeter Rob Freeberg and features many top-flight soloists. Rob Freeberg was Director of Bands at New Rochelle High School; he also led his own professional big band and a community big band in Westchester County. Freeberg received awards from the New York State School Music Association, and conducted high school performances at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, he currently serves on the Jazz Center board, directs the VJC Sextet and co-directs the Jazz Workshop at BUHS.

The Vermont Jazz Center Big Band is a professional community band that comes together under the auspices of the VJC to rehearse and take on projects. In years past, the VJC has saluted Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, performed charts sung by Frank Sinatra and hosted guest vocalists Kevin Mahogany, Rob Fletcher, Samirah Evans, Jill Connolly, Amanda Carr and Rebecca Holtz. Other performances have featured saxophonists Houston Person and Scott Mullet; in 2011the VJC paid tribute to the Mambo Kings by joining forces with timbalero Eguie Castrillo. The VJC Big Band is comprised of trumpeters Charlie Schneeweis, Steve Sonntag, Rick Anderson and Don Anderson (no relation); trombonists Riley Goodemote, Bob Thies, Rob Skrocki; saxophonists Michael Zsoldos, Bob Stabach, Larry Tutt, Nick Pelton, Sherm Fox; the rhythm section is Wayne Roberts (bass), Steve Rice (drums) and Eugene Uman (piano) with guest percussionist Julian Gerstin (congas).

The VJC's tribute to the Dream Band will take place on Friday, December 4th - this concert has been made possible due to the organizational skills and financial generosity of Band Manager Sherm Fox and Musical Director Rob Freeberg. It is sponsored by VJC friends, Dianne Gallo, Steve Lieberman and Henry Uman. Special thanks go out the Vermont Arts Council, WVPR and New England Public Radio. The music is tailored for dancing and will include tempos perfect for a myriad of dance steps including the Fox Trot, Two Step, Charleston and even the Cha Cha. Shine your shoes, and come prepared to dance to the powerful force of a live band performing new arrangements of your favorite big band classics. The money raised from the annual big band gala helps fill the coffers for the VJC scholarship fund.

Admission, which includes a delicious desert buffet, is $25 plus for general admission, $30 plus for reservations that include reserved seating. For local high school students, there is a special fund available to subsidize admission. Purchase tickets online at, by email at, at In the Moment Records in downtown Brattleboro, or call the VJC ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1 (a $1 surcharge per ticket will be charged for all tickets purchased with a credit card, online, or by phone). Tickets can also be purchased at the door. This concert is handicapped accessible, but please call in advance (802 - 254 - 9088) if someone in your party will require the use of an elevator. Purchase your tickets early. It is anticipated that this concert will sell out quickly. Dance the night away at the Vermont Jazz Center's tribute to Terry Gibbs' Dream Band on Friday, December 4th at 8:00 PM.

Terry Gibbs - Don't Be That Way:

Jazz Profiles Blog about the band (By Steven Cerra, 2008)

Terry Gibbs:

Jill Connolly:

Rich Greenblatt:

Vermont Jazz Center to launch a new semester of classes starting on September 10th


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

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

Information on the courses:

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.

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 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 You can also email Eugene Uman at 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 For questions about Anna Patton's classes, contact the instructor directly: For all other inquiries contact Eugene Uman at For phone inquiries, 802 254 9088.

Concert Season, 2015-2016 Vermont Jazz Center
(All concerts held on at 8:00 PM and on Saturdays except where noted)
  • 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.

Keep in touch
Upcoming Concerts
VJC Big Band and Guest Vibraphonist, Richard Greenblatt Pay Tribute to Terry Gibbs' Dream Band
Friday, December 4th, 2015, 8:00 PM
Bobby Broom Trio
Saturday, January 23rd, 2016, 8:00 PM
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