Howard Brofsky and Friends

Dr. Bebop's sublime sound is at the core of the Vermont Jazz Center's identity. Each year he chooses a band that best represents his high level of communication and artistry. It is worthwhile to reflect on the pithy liner notes to Brofsky's now decade-old album, "73 Down," in which Harry Bauld pinpoints the essence of his sound: Howie Brofsky (Dr. Bebop) holds limitless affection for the bebop idiom and the American standards. He possesses a warm tone, understatement, and the ability to improvise what Charlie Parker called "the pretty notes."

The phrases "affection for bebop" and "pretty notes" characterize our drive to listen again and again to Brofsky's lyrical excursions. He loves Bebop in an endearing manner, he does not abuse it (as many have) to prove that he is the fastest, but to coax serpentine melodies that employ leading tones that resolve as they approach their inevitable goal. Brofsky's objective is to find the beauty in life and then offer it as a gift to his listeners.

Press Release written by Eugene Uman

The Vermont Jazz Center welcomes the "Dr. Bebop" Quintet to the stage on Saturday, May 21st at 8:00 PM. Cornetist Howard Brofsky will appear with an all-star group that features alto saxophonist Antonio Hart (member of Dave Holland's Quintet and Big Band, Dizzy Gillespie Big Band). The rhythm section will be comprised of the VJC's Summer Workshop faculty pianist, Ray Gallon, along with bassist Chris Haney and drummer Eliot Zigmund.

Brofsky serves as President Emeritus at the VJC where his wise advice serves as the institution's keel. He continues to teach at Queens College and has written books and scholarly treatises, but above all Brofsky is, heart and soul, a musician. Expressing himself musically with highly skilled, empathetic instrumentalists and continuing the legacy of bebop are his highest goals. This concert is his annual opportunity to present his vision and musical world to Brattleboro in a most supportive setting. As always, he has chosen a fantastic band with which to offer his annual gift.

Brofksy, who studied composition with Nadia Boulanger is an expert on the development of Classicism in 18th century Italian music. After decades of teaching, studying and writing about the late Baroque style, he turned a corner at mid-life and delved fully into jazz, the music he had fell in love with as a youth. Now in his mid-80s, Brofsky lives and breathes jazz. His joy for the music is infectious; his presence in the room leads to colorful stories of times spent with Jimmy Heath, Dexter Gordon and Attila Zoller and a smoky bar-full of others. He eagerly shares his vivid memories of 52nd Street during its heyday when he and his buddies would comb the clubs seeking out Charlie Parker.

Howard Brofsky's initial training in jazz was "old school," achieved through listening to and transcribing '78s of his musical idols: Prez (Lester Young), Bird (Charlie Parker) and Miles Davis. He is a direct connection to bebop's roots, an educator who learned his craft during the time when the music was nascent yet at its creative apex. He conveys this lineage by encouraging his students to go beyond the books about jazz to find out what is jazz, and then takes it a step further: what does jazz mean to each one of them personally, how can they use the language of jazz to say something meaningful. Brofsky is all about listening, communicating, responding and making music in the moment.

When choosing players with whom to perform, Brofsky digs deep. He chooses like- minded individuals who fit his criteria: high-levels of musicianship, big ears with acute listening and communication skills. This year he'll feature his colleague from Queens College, saxophonist, Antonio Hart. Listeners may remember Hart's quartet who performed at the VJC's Valentine's Day concert in 2010; they were having so much fun relating with each other and the audience that they just wouldn't quit! This is typical of the ebullient and graceful Hart, who is all about giving through music.

Hart's approach to developing his own personal style is based on respect for the tradition. He has cultivated relationships with jazz's icons, assimilated their styles and learned meaningful lessons on and off the bandstand. Hart has reached back and studied the music of the old Masters by transcribing improvised solos off of their original recordings.

Amongst others, he has learned numerous improvisations by Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Cannonball Adderley, Johnny Hodges and Ben Webster in an attempt to decode the secrets locked within them. Hart has gone well beyond this task by performing and recording with many of today's living masters. He has served as apprentice to Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Heath, Donald Byrd, Sir Roland Hanna, Dave Holland and Nat Adderley, learning why they chose specific notes, gleaning from their leadership styles and observing their attitudes towards life. Antonio's immersion in the music of the past has positioned him well. He is now, to quote Dee Dee Bridgewater, "one of the best alto saxophonists on the scene today."

Dr. Brofsky has chosen the tasteful pianist, Ray Gallon to perform with him at this concert. Gallon has recorded and toured the world with many of the leading artists of jazz, including Ron Carter, Lionel Hampton, Art Farmer, T.S. Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Sweets Edison Wycliffe Gordon, Les Paul, Benny Golson. Frank Wess, Lew Tabakin, George Adams and the Mingus Big Band. He has performed at most of the major jazz festivals and venues throughout North and South America, Europe, and Japan and has appeared in gala concerts at the White House and the Kennedy Center. Ray has also accompanied many vocal greats, including Jon Hendricks, Chaka Khan, Sheila Jordan, Grady Tate, Nnenna Freelon, Gloria Lynne, Dakota Staton, Joe Williams, and Jane Monheit. His compositions have been recorded by T.S. Monk, the Harper Brothers, and George Adams. Ray has appeared on numerous recordings, including Lionel Hampton's Grammy-nominated Cookin' In the Kitchen.

The bassist for Brofsky's quintet is Chris Haney who has performed throughout the United States, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. Chris has recorded or performed with Mickey Roker, Wessell Anderson, Bobby Porcelli, Joe Magnarelli, Eliot Zigmund, Ray Vega and many others. He can be seen performing regularly in New York jazz clubs such as Smalls, Fat Cat, and Smoke.

Finally, the drummer for the group is one of Brofsky's very close friends and musical colleagues. Eliot Zigmund is best known for his trio work with Bill Evans, one of the most significant pianists in the history of jazz. He can be found on a dozen albums with Evans; their recording "You Must Believe in Spring" is considered a jazz classic. Other well-known associations include Michel Petrucciani, Vince Guaraldi, Jim Hall, Stan Getz, Benny Golson, Richie Beirach, David Berkman, Gene Bertrocini, Eddie Gomez, Bobby Watson, Eddie Henderson, Jed Levy, Lee Konitz, Don Friedman, Fred Hersch, Helen Merrill, Ted Rosenthal, Pete Malinverni, Cameron Brown, Warren Vache and many others.

Come to the Jazz Center on Saturday, May 21st at 8:00 PM to experience an evening of true jazz. Standards and bebop tunes will come alive when injected with soul, historical context and freshly improvised melodies. Howard Brofsky's Quintet is comprised of accomplished musicians who understand that jazz is a form of creative expression that develops greater degrees of subtleties as one becomes more open and skilled. The musicians Brofksy has assembled are all about delivering beautiful nuanced melodies over hard-swinging grooves.

Please extend a warm hometown welcome to Howard Brofsky as he returns from Brooklyn to Brattleboro on Saturday, May 21st at 8:00 PM to perform at the Vermont Jazz Center. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for students with valid ID. This concert is handicap accessible, please call to discuss arrangements to facilitate your enjoyment of this concert: (802) 254 9088.

Saturday, May 21
8:00 PM
Vermont Jazz Center
$20 general admission/$15 for students
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