Holophonor Sextet feat. Miro Sprague

On April 18th, 2015, the Vermont Jazz Center welcomes the Holopohonor Sextet, a group of young musicians representing the future of jazz. The pianist of the ensemble, Miro Sprague is well-known in this area. Born and raised in Western Massachusetts, he has earned the deep respect and admiration of the entire jazz community. Since leaving the Pioneer Valley, he has lived in New York and Los Angeles where his talent, ability and humility have contributed to his rising star status. The great pianist and educator, Armen Donelian says "Miro Sprague is among the most talented young composer/pianists of his generation." Other members of Holophonor include Josh Joshnson on alto saxophone, Eric Miller, trombone; Diego Urbano, vibraphone; Dave Robaire, bass and Jonathan Pinson on drums.

Sponsored by Barbara Ween of Visage Salon and the Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation

Miro Sprague connected with the other five musicians of Holophonor while attending the Thelonious Monk Institute's two-year graduate school, the world's most selective jazz studies program. It's chair and main teacher is Herbie Hancock. For each graduating class, only one individual is accepted per instrument. For the 2014 graduating class there were just 7 students. An extremely strong bond was created between them. Miro stated: "the time we played and lived together at the Institute was so powerful...the chemistry will be there for life and can be instantly ignited."

From the first day of studies through graduation, rehearsals and sessions with jazz masters were substituted for the standard curriculum. Mentors included Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Terrence Blanchard, Jimmy Heath, Kenny Burrell, Clark Terry, Danilo Perez and many others. In accord with the intention of the Monk Institute's vision, they (Holophonor) then taught music and life lessons to schoolchildren in Los Angeles' outlying school districts. The Monk Institute's website states:

Thelonious Monk believed the best way to learn jazz was from a music master. The Institute follows that same philosophy by bringing young jazz students together with renowned jazz artists and educators through its intensive jazz performance college program, and at hundreds of workshops, master classes and other jazz education programs. All of the Institute's education programs are provided free of charge, with a special emphasis on serving economically disadvantaged public school students and their teachers.

Reflecting on its structure, Miro stated: "The Thelonious Monk Program is based on a mentorship model. Its concept is to preserve the teachings of the jazz masters in a practical setting... having them work with us in performance situations. This includes playing music, telling stories and having lengthy conversations about their experiences; much like the way the older musicians learned. Having relationships with jazz masters highlights the significance and respect for the lineage of jazz musicians. There's less of that now then there was in the past. They've passed on a bit of their knowledge with me, I am sharing what I've learned with others." He went on, "really what we were doing was "hanging out and absorbing the wisdom of master musicians who were beautiful people of great integrity. The whole experience was very encouraging to me."

One of the most indelible experiences Miro relayed was about playing a gig with Wayne Shorter who was in town for a performance with the LA Jazz Society. Rather than use his own quartet, Shorter chose to perform with members of the Monk Institute. "The rehearsal we had with Wayne was one of the amazing experiences I've ever had, energetically. He writes out his music in pen and uses whiteout (instead of a computer). He hardly ever talks about music, he's more into broad-minded, wisdom stuff. When we were with Wayne, conversations were about life, movies; for me, the whole experience was cinematic."

Holophonor's performances feature original music from each member of the group as well as works written collectively. Their sound combines imaginative compositions with improvisational freedom while remaining accessible to the listener. As young ambassadors representing the Monk Institute, the group has performed in Israel, Japan, Sweden and Turkey as well as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Short bios of the musicians: Josh Johnson is an alto and soprano saxophonist and composer who has performed with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Lalah Hathaway, Robert Hurst, Esperanza Spalding and Aretha Franklin. Growing up near Chicago, Josh became a key part of the scene, frequently performing with Jeff Parker and Marquis Hill. He has received awards from the Civic and Arts Foundation's Jazz Composition Competition and is a recipient of a 2015 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer. Eric Miller, trombone, participated in the Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead program, New York Youth Symphony Jazz Band Classic, and the Gibson Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble, while in high school.  Eric received his bachelor's degree in jazz studies from Manhattan School of Music, and in 2010 he won the International Trombone Association's Carl Fontana Jazz Trombone Competition.  He has performed with Jonathan Batiste, John Beasley, John Ellis, Michael Dease, Daniel Jamieson, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All Star Big Band and the Christian McBride Big Band among others. Diego Urbano, is a self-taught vibraphonist from Santiago, Chile. He developed his career as leader and teacher in the local scene before relocating to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he played with the country's best musicians. He is the first South American musician ever to be selected to study at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He now resides in New York City. Bassist Dave Robaire has worked with Wynton Marsalis, Gilad Hekselman, Ambrose Akinmusire, John Ellis, and Dave Liebman among many others. Although the music has taken him all over the world, Robaire's current home base is Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. Los Angeles native Jonathan Pinson received his undergraduate degree, under full scholarship at Berklee College of Music. He has performed or toured with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dave Liebman, John Patitucci, Ambrose Akinmusire, Greg Osby and Danilo Perez. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

The word Holophonor is derived from the Greek: holós meaning "whole" and phone meaning "sound." It's also an inside joke enjoyed by the band because the Holophonor is a fantasy instrument created for Matt Groening's animated TV show, Futurama. According to Miro, the Holophonor is "a futuristic clarinet that projects holograms when played. The beauty of the holograms depends on how well you play the instrument. It is a manifestation of your inner self projected into the outside world."

The Holophonor Sextet will perform at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro, Vermont on Saturday, April 18th. This is a rare opportunity to hear 6 talented young musicians who have been recognized to be amongst the very best players of their generation. After two years studying with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and others they are eager to present their own complex but accessible music to the world. Be sure to reserve your tickets in advance. This concert is made possible due to the generous financial support of the Chenzen and Sprague Families as well as Barbara Ween of Visage Salon and many other dear friends Vermont Jazz Center. 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.

Saturday, April 18th
8:00 PM
Vermont Jazz Center
Sliding Scale ticket fee: $20.00 - $40.00
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