Year Round Instructors

Ben Carr

Drum set, Percussion, and 'Ukulele

ben-carr-photo-for-website-cr-rebekah-wiley.jpgBen Carr is a Southern Vermont based musician focused on performance and education of drum set, percussion, and 'ukulele. He performs solo and also fronts his own band, the Ben Carr Music Project, and is a member of blues guitarist Sunny Lowdown's band. He has also appeared with many regional bands, including R&B/jazz artist Patty Carpenter, the Americana roots group the Milkhouse Heaters, and the original Vermont reggae outfit Mo Ambesa. In addition to these groups, Ben has shared the stage with Clarence 'Gatemouth' Brown, Trumystic, Carlos Averhoff, Eugene Uman, Lou Erlanger, Ayizan Sannon, Page McConnell and Mike Gordon, Lil' Rev, Gerald Ross, and many more.

Ben's music combines his early years of growing up in SE Pennsylvania with his time spent living in New Orleans and Vermont. From this melting pot of rhythms, ideals, life experience and love comes a truly original style of music which reflects these influences and can be heard within his compositions. Ben is currently working on his 6th studio project, Uke+Drums=Love, which is a combination of his two musical passions. The album is set to release in November 2018.

As an educator, Ben's philosophy is to bring joy and fulfillment to the instrument. The goal of every teaching interaction is to facilitate the enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of the language of music.

Rob Freeberg

Band Leader, Trumpet, Therory

Rob_Freeberg.jpgRob Freeberg moved to Dummerston, VT in 2012, after retiring from his position as Director of Bands at New Rochelle High School, NY, where he taught for 30 years. Many of his former students have pursued careers in music as performers, conductors and composers. He also directed a community jazz band, the Rob Freeberg Big Band, and the Iona College Pep Band. Rob was selected as guest conductor for several all-county and regional music festivals in NY, and performed and recorded as a free-lance trumpeter in the metropolitan NY area.

Since moving to Vermont, he has become active at the VT Jazz Center, serving on its Board of Directors, and directing the VJC Sextet and Big Band. He performs with the Windham Orchestra, was chosen as guest conductor for the District 6 MS Jazz Band, and was the jazz instructor for 2 years at The Putney School. Rob currently co-directs the Jazz Workshop at Brattleboro Union HS, and teaches a jazz improvisation class at Bellows Falls Union HS.

Tony Lechner

Choral Director

Tony Lechner is an award-winning director, composer, performer, and educator who brings passion and energy to his music and the groups he works with. He specializes in vocal harmonies, and makes learning music fun and easy to understand. He has worked with Boston-based animation company Fablevision and his music and sound design have appeared in international film festivals and won several awards including the Rights of the Child Award, Parents' Choice Award, and Next Generation Learning Challenge. Combine that with 20+ years experience transcribing and teaching the complex music of Take 6 and the Real Group to choirs of all ages and you have the recipe for one great singing experience!

Lechner created 5-Alone, the high school a cappella jazz group that won numerous awards and performed around the globe. He also directs the Valley Rock Choir & Valley Rock for Teens. For 14 years Tony brought music education to an impressive new level at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School and was choral director at the Stoneleigh-Burnham School (Greenfield, MA).

Visit Tony Lechner's website.

Moonlight Davis

Gospel Choir

Moonlight Davis has been singing Gospel music in the Pentecostal Church since age 4 when he stood up on the offering table and sang the Lord's Prayer. He has opened for the Wynans, conducted gospel choirs and sung in churches all over the East Coast. He plays keyboards and hand drums, having trained with Babtunde Olatunji. He led his own rhythm and blues band, called Magnum Force.He has wowed audiences from Canada to Virginia, New York to San Francisco. He has lead vocal workshops for the past 10 years.

Moonlight has shared the stage with the legendary Billy Preston, Evelyn Harris and local musical luminaries including: Erik Lawrence, David Wertman, Derrik Jordan, Samirah Evans, Miro Sprague. He has appeared several times with the Windham orchestra, conducted by Hugh Keelan. In recent years he has joined with his wife, Morning Star Chenven to form a group "Moonlight and Morning Star" - their website is

Mr. Davis has worked devotedly in his community in the Pioneer Valley of Western, Massachusetts to promote social justice, multicultural awareness and empowerment for young people.

Visit Moonlight Davis's website.

Larry Tutt


Larry Tutt is an alto saxophonist who doubles on tenor, baritone and soprano saxophones as well as flute and piano. He began playing saxophone at age 8 and appeared with Lionel Hampton at age 10. Other performances with notable artists include Barry Harris, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Nick Brignola, Bill Watrous, and Bela Fleck. By age 16 he attended sessions in New York City at clubs such as the Blue Note, Jazzmania, the Village Gate, and the Jazz Cultural Theatre. 
Larry brings over 35 years professional playing, teaching, and writing experience to the jazz center: he was director of the Union College/Community Jazz Ensemble, Schenectady, New York and is the founder of MobileJazzImprov.

William Armando Rodriguez


William Armando Rodriguez is a native of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He began his study of music at the Escuela Vocacional de Arte Jose Maria Heredia at nine years old and continued in the Conservatorio de Musica Esteban Salas in Santiago de Cuba and attained his nivel medio superior (professional level). After receiving his degree he went on to teach percussion in Escuela Vocacional de Arte Jose Maria Heredia and moved on to become head of the percussion department of percussion.

In 2003 William joined the popular group Septeto Tipico Tivoli as percussionist and music arranger. He infused the rhythms of son, salsa, bachata, merengue, bolero and other popular and traditional rhythms into the group's repertoire. He traveled with the group to London, England to participate in the Carnival de Cuba, he then traveled to the United States as part of a Cuban-American cultural exchange. The group traveled through New England giving concerts at community events and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. William currently teaches Afro-Cuban percussion at VJC and works as a guest percussionist with local bands such as Simba and Fenibo. He also was a member of the Dartmouth College Dartmouth Idol orchestra.

Draa Hobbs


Draa Hobbs studied guitar with jazz greats Attila Zoller, Jimmy Raney, Gene Bertoncini and Peter Leitch. A professional musician for over twenty years he has performed with Attila Zoller, David Amram, Vic Juris, John Stowell, Armen Donnelian, Don Friedman, Jed Levy, Allison Miller, T-Bone Wolk and many others. Draa has recorded with the Steve Sonntag Quintet, Grammy nominated singer songwriter Lisa McCormick, James Wormworth and bassist Tony Garnier (Asleep At The Wheel; Lucinda Williams: musical director and bassist for Bob Dylan). Draa is also featured on Ed Eastridge's "The House With Four Chimneys" performing the music of classical composer Erik Satie. A highly-regarding educator, Draa has taught at Marlboro College, Amherst College, The Putney School, The Vermont Jazz Center, and Plymouth State University, where he ran the guitar program and coached ensembles. Draa is currently the Program Director for The Vermont Institute of Contemporary Art in Chester, Vt, where he organizes their concert series.

Visit Draa Hobbs's website.

Anna Patton


AnnaPatton.pngAnna Patton comes from a musical background of jazz, classical, traditional and world music. She has carved out a professional niche as an eclectic, improvising clarinetist, composer, and teacher. Her current projects include playing original, world-music-influenced repertoire with the As Yet Quintet and touring across the country and abroad with the innovative dance band Elixir. A third generation singer and arranger of jazz vocal harmonies, she teaches harmony singing at workshops and festivals, as well as at the Vermont Jazz Center.

Anna received her BA from Marlboro College in 2005 with a degree in Ethnomusicology and her Master's in Music from New England Conservatory in 2014, focusing on early jazz, free improvisation, and composition in the conservatory's Contemporary Improvisation program.

She lives in Brattleboro VT with her husband, fiddler Ethan Hazzard-Watkins.

Visit Anna Patton's website.

George Kaye


George Kaye, BassistGeorge Kaye is a bassist and Jazz instructor with a Bachelors Degree in Jazz Bass from Manhattan School of Music. He teaches bass and the elements of jazz for any instrument.

Residing in Holyoke, MA, he performs at various venues in Western Mass such as Castle St and the Vermont Jazz Center and occasionally abroad. George also maintains a recording studio in NYC.

George worked and recorded with Houston Person and Etta Jones from 1996-2001. He also performed and/or recorded with Nicholas Peyton, Jimmy Giuffre, Dakota Staton, Jack Walrath, Slide Hampton, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Randy Brecker, Jackie Terrason and many others. He has performed at the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note (NYC and Tokyo) , The Jazz Bakery, and at festivals throughout the world.

Scott Mullett

Teaches: and

On January 3, 2018 Scott Mullett passed away in his home. He was an honored and long-time member of the VJC's year round and summer faculty. He will be missed deeply and his musical and mentoring contribution cannot be overestimated.

Scott MulletScott Mullett has played and toured with some of the best big bands in the world. After attending Berklee School of Music, Mullett toured with Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, and Mel Torme, and joined the national tours of Cats and 42nd Street. He has performed with Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Stan Getz, Lou Rawls, Ben Vereen, Cab Calloway, and many other notable performers.

Mullett has been a working musician ever since, and is now a first-call saxophone player for the greater Boston area, doing commercial studio sessions, and performing regularly with the White Heat Swing Orchestra and the C-Jammers. He has taught saxophone clinics at Berklee.

After serving as Musical Director for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines in the 90's, he came back to the Monadnock Region and continues to play jazz and teach in the Boston area as well as the Keene area.

Julian Gerstin

Teaches: and

Julian Gerstin

Julian Gerstin, PhD is an ethnomusicologist, percussionist and composer. At the Vermont Jazz Center, Julian co-leads the Latin Jazz Ensemble with Eugene Uman, teaches Caribbean/African Percussion, and runs a Rhythm Theory course at the Summer Jazz Workshop. He also serves on the Board as President and a member of the Grants Committee.

Julian's percussive explorations have led him from the folk traditions of Ghana and Cuba to popular music from Nigeria to Brazil, as well as jazz styles from New Orleans brass bands to avant-garde experimentalism. He currently appears with his own ensemble, the Julian Gerstin Sextet, playing original jazz influenced by the rhythms and forms of Caribbean and Balkan music; with the Afrocuban folkloric dance ensemble Iroko Nuevo; and with local bands playing salsa, samba, and Latin jazz.

In the academic world, Julian has taught music and ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University, Clark University, Marlboro College and Keene State College. He studied and performed traditional music in Martinique in 1993-95, and his work there has led to numerous scholarly publications and CD compilations of Martinican traditions. He has studied Cuban music with notables such as the group Cutumba in Santiago de Cuba, Sandy Perez, John Santos, and John Amira. Julian is co-author (with Ken Dalluge) of the book The Musician's Guide to Rhythm, a practical approach to rhythmic understanding and creativity for all instruments.

Visit Julian Gerstin's website.

Eugene Uman

Teaches: and

Eugene_Uman1.jpgEugene Uman took an MA from Queens College in Jazz Performance, and was a recipient of a Eubie Blake Scholarship.

He was former faculty at 3rd Street Music Settlement House in NYC, Colegio de Musica, Medellin, Colombia, and has recorded with Carlos Averhoff of Irakere as well as various Latin American ensembles; also performed with Donald Byrd, Jerry Bergonzi, Larry Rivers group, Vermont Jazz Ensemble.

Eugene has been commissioned by the Big Band de Medellin to compose and perform, and has given workshops at the university level in jazz composition, jazz theory and harmony, jazz improvisation, jazz pedagogy, and jazz history and appreciation.

Artistic Director, Vermont Jazz Center; Adjunct professor of Music at Universidad de Antioquia and Universidad EAFIT in Colombia, SA

Visit Eugene Uman's website.
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