The Vermont Jazz Center was founded in 1975 by Attila Zoller as a summer program for his advanced music students. Many individuals traveled all the way from Europe to Newfane, Vermont just to taste his paprika chicken. The program was informal, but successful enough that Attila needed to ask his friends, a sampling of some of the finest musicians in the New York jazz scene, to help teach. Regular guests included musicians of note such as Lee Konitz, Roland Hanna, George Mraz, Don Friedman, and Joe Chambers.
Gene Rush, head of the Jazz Department at Memphis State, joined with Attila in 1980 and helped transform the informal program to include a comprehensive curriculum including classes in theory, master classes for each represented instrument, ensembles and supervised jam sessions. They rented space from the area's private schools and added teachers to the staff. Special guests and workshop directors have included Hal Galper, Jimmy Heath, John Abercrombie, Tal Farlow, Marvin Stamm, Jim Hall and many others. Resident doctor of bebop, Howard Brofsky continues to work quietly behind the scene to keep the cogs greased. Joy Wallens-Penford, has also been instrumental in keeping the VJC organized and helped expand its programming.
What's Happening Now
In a serendipitous meeting in January of '97, Attila Zoller asked Eugene Uman if he was interested in taking over the administrative arm of the VJC. Eugene gained his experience developing jazz programs in Colombia, South America where he established a jazz program in a private music school and taught jazz classes in several Universities.
Now the Vermont Jazz Center continues to grow. It now has a VJC Music Studio permanent location, an inspiring space in an old factory building with high ceilings and refinished wood floors. The Jazz Center now offers regular Wednesday evening jam sessions, monthly concerts and workshops offered by internationally recognized musicians, and of course, an annual summer workshop. Private lessons and educational programs are also offered.
Attila Zoller passed from this world on January 25th, 1998 a few miles from his rustic home in Newfane, Vermont. Through the concerts he presented, he educated hundreds of people to the experience of high quality jazz. Through the establishment of the VJC Summer Jazz Program he exposed hundreds of students to the teachings of some of the best jazz faculty in the world. And through his own example, by his presence alone, he taught the dedication and love of life that was necessary to become and remain a jazz musician of the highest level.
The VJC continues as testament to his work.