Pianist Eugene Uman composes sizzling pieces of jazz that draw from a range of influences and cultural traditions. Embroidered through his works are heavy harmonic strands from Columbia and Cuba, with modal and rhythmic borders from India and regions of North Africa, all overlain with the format of jazz and free expression. The one constant coursing through Uman's music is energy, sometimes raw, other times refined, but always pushing forward, charting new territory.
Eugene Uman has served as artistic director of the Vermont Jazz Center since 1997, where he has produced more than 160 concerts and built the program to a renowned venue and educational hub. He has performed with a long list of jazz masters, including Sheila Jordan, George Mraz, Jimmy Heath, Donald Byrd and many more. Uman's Convergence Project melds the virtuoso talents of Jeff Galindo on trombone, Michael Zsoldos, saxophones, Stomu Takeishi, bass, and Satoshi Takeishi, drums, into a compelling amalgam of musical innovation.
There will be moments during an upcoming performance by Eugene Uman's Convergence Project on June 9th at 8:00 PM at the Vermont Jazz Center when nobody knows for sure what will happen next. Not the soundman, certainly not the audience, not even the musicians on stage.
The musicians will be the ones performing, yes, but where the music takes them as a group will be determined by forces beyond intention and forethought. That's the way composer and pianist Eugene Uman intends it. And that, he might say, is one of the most electrifying elements of jazz: its unpredictability, its capriciousness and ephemerality.
Led by Uman, the artistic director of the Vermont Jazz Center, the Convergence Project is an eclectic mix of extraordinary musicians, each of who brings individual influences and flavors to Uman's richly spiced compositions. The Convergence Project concert will take place on Saturday, June 9, at 8 p.m. at the Vermont Jazz Center, Cotton Mill Hill, Brattleboro.
"People should expect to hear new material at this concert," tips Uman. "Each of these musicians brings vast knowledge and wisdom to musical performance. I aim to give them opportunities to express themselves through my music."
Uman's music draws from a panoply of styles and forms: Latin rhythms from Columbia, the driving energy of rock, an underpinning of jazz. But Uman's music is also laced with modal echoes from India and North Africa, and always allows for wide interpretation and free expression.
In putting together the Convergence Project, Uman was "looking for a situation in which I could effectively express all the styles that influence my composition," he explains. "All the musicians I found complement that objective. It's extremely exciting that I'll be playing with these guys."
The Convergence Project has performed together as a group for nearly four years, sometimes with different personnel combinations. Joining Uman for the VJC concert will be:
- The Takeishi brothers--Stomu on bass and Satoshi on drums and percussion are a powerful rhythmic duo and a force in the New York City jazz and world music scene
- Michael Zsoldos playing saxophones (alto, soprano and tenor), a well-traveled musical innovator and educator who has performed with some of the most notable music legends
- Jeff Galindo wielding the trombone, a highly sought jazz artist and assistant professor at Berklee College of Music who has performed with a long list of jazz greats
- Sebastián Cruz, a guitarist and composer who blends elements of his Columbian roots with the urban grain of his current home, New York City. "He brings an authentic touch to the music," attests Uman.
The Convergence Project concert will be anchored by four new works, Uman says, including a piece titled "The Message," dedicated to Wayne Shorter; a new ballad; and a reworking of a tune first written more than 20 years ago.
Still, Uman emphasizes, regardless of what the program consists of, the main attraction of the Convergence Project is the group's ability to take flight and venture off in musical directions leading off the map. After all, music is foremost about exploration, discovery and invention.
So when the Convergence Project takes the stage, sink into the sound and allow the music to take the lead--but don't even try to predict where it will go.
The Convergence Project at VJC is made possible with generous financial support from the McKenzie Family Charitable Trust, as well the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hospitality provided by the Colonial Inn and the Latchis Hotel.
Tickets for the Convergence Project at VJC, June 9, are $20 general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); Tickets are available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, online at www.vtjazz.org and at the door. Reserve tickets by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1.
Please purchase tickets on-line to help avoid a massive line on the day of the show. There will be separate lines for "will call" and ticket sales.
Other ticket payment/reservation options:
In the Moment, 143 Main St, Brattleboro, VT
Call the Jazz Center at 802-254-9088 to reserve tickets.