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Steve Davis Sextet Celebrates the Music of J.J. Johnson Featuring pianist Harold Mabern and special guest, Scott Mullett

The VJC welcomes Steve Davis Sextet to perform on Saturday, February 13th in a concert celebrating the music of trombonist J. J. Johnson. Featured artists in Davis's sextet include one of bebop's foremost elder statesmen on the piano, Harold Mabern as well as the formidable tenor saxophonist, Scott Mullett. The other musicians who comprise this sextet include Josh Bruneau (trumpet), Harold Mabern (piano), Nat Reeves (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums).

This concert was originally scheduled to highlight saxophonist Eric Alexander who gracefully bowed out to accept an extended European tour. This turn of events has evolved into a wonderful opportunity for the Vermont Jazz Center whose audience will now experience the exciting repertoire and tight arrangements of J. J. Johnson, one of the greatest trombonists in the history of jazz, interpreted by an all-star band. Steve Turre put it succinctly when he stated:

J. J. did for the trombone what Charlie Parker did for the saxophone. And all of us that are playing today wouldn't be playing the way we're playing if it wasn't for what he did. And not only, of course, is he the master of the trombone--the definitive master of this century--but, as a composer and arranger, he is in the top shelf as well.

This group has already performed this repertoire several times and recorded a soon-to-be released CD (with Eric Alexander) at New York's "Smoke;" they will appear at the Jazz Center with local saxophone star, Scott Mullett.

Featured in this band is the legendary pianist Harold Mabern who has been described in the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings as "one of the great post-bop pianists." He performed in the Miles Davis sextet for a 6-week stint in 1963 and toured or recorded with Cannonball Adderly, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Jimmy Forest, Grant Green, Benny Carter's Jazztet, Betty Carter, Donald Byrd, Roy Haynes, J. J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Lee Morgan, Sarah Vaughan, Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, George Benson and many others. The influence of his Memphis neighbor, Phineas Newborn, Jr. remains noticeable: Mabern employs Newborn's "manner of playing fast lines in a two-handed octave (or two-octave) unison, and uses this device in wildly imaginative ways."

The Vermont Jazz Center will present the Steve Davis Sextet featuring pianist Harold Mabern and special guest, Scott Mullett at 8:00 PM on Saturday, February 13th. Davis will celebrate one of his main influences and one of bebop's foremost trombonists and composers, J. J. Johnson in collaboration with the seasoned players who comprise his burning, New York-based sextet. The VJC is especially grateful to Janet and Jeremy Birch and a friend of the VJC's Summer Workshop for their generous sponsorship; we are also thankful 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.

Tickets for the Steve Davis Sextet featuring Harold Mabern with Special Guest Scott Mullett are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or online at Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC.

Sextet w/ Davis and Mabern

Interview Mabern:

Steve Davis other settings
Aebersold concert -
@ Smoke:

Harold Mabern Trio

J. J. Johnson videos:



The Vermont Jazz Center instructors are committed to the jazz ethic of passing the tradition on and keeping it alive. Their ability to pull beautiful music out of even beginners is phenomenal. Their contributions to our community cannot be overstated.

~Susie Webster-Toleno, parent of youth ensemble students

The Vermont Jazz Center will begin their 10-week long semester of Spring/Winter educational programs, most classes will begin the week of February 8th, 2016. Visit the Jazz Center's website at for details, or call or email Office Manager, Ginger Morawski to register: 802 254 9088, Sessions are 10 weeks long (except for Youth Jazz which is 8 weeks). Starting dates are listed below and at Fees are $250 for 10 week semesters, except for Latin Jazz which is $200 and Youth Jazz which is $100. Call for scholarship/work study options. The semester will culminate in a concert with a short set performed by each of the groups on Thursday April 28th at 7:00 PM.

5:15 - 6:45 Blue Note Ensemble, Scott Mullett, instructor. February 8th starting date. 
This ensemble will focus on the repertoire from landmark Blue Note recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Mullett states that this era represents for him, "the heartbeat of American jazz." The repertoire performed by this ensemble will include jazz standards and originals recorded by the bands of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley and Wayne Shorter.

7:00 - 9:00 Valley Rock Choir, Tony Lechner, instructor. Tony Lechner, has been conducting choirs in the Northampton Massachusetts region for over a decade under the auspices of Valley Jazz Choirs. He uses the VJC to rehearse his rock choir on Monday evenings at 7:00 PM. Contact Mr. Lechner directly for starting date and fee information. To register:

3:45 -5:00 Youth Jazz Ensemble, Eugene Uman, instructor. February 23rd start date (8 week session). 
For youth age 10 - 16 who are interested in adding improvisation to their musical toolbox. This ensemble will use simple tunes written by jazz masters Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Cannonball Adderley and others as vehicles for taking off. The tunes we will start with are simple melodies that encourage participants to want to delve deeper into the jazz repertoire.

4:15 - 5:45 Latin Jazz Ensemble, Julian Gerstin and Eugene Uman, instructors. February 10th start date. 
For musicians who wish to learn and play jazz influenced by rhythms of Latin America. Emphasized styles include salsa, son, rumba, danzon, bolero and cha cha chá from Cuba (and Puerto Rico); cumbia, bambucco and porro from Colombia; bossa, samba, partido alto and samba reggae from Brazil.

5:45 - 7:30 Women's Jazz Harmony Vocal Ensemble, Anna Patton, instructor, February 11th start date
. Anna Patton will lead a women's vocal ensemble that will sing arrangements of songs from the swing era as well as contemporary pieces in the jazz idiom. The ensemble will work on blend and precision in close harmonies in the style of groups like the Andrews Sisters and Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. We will also spend some time working on aural skills and playing with chord progressions. Recommended for singers who read music and/or have quick ears. The group is not auditioned, but does take on some challenging material.

VJC Wednesday Night Jam Sessions (ongoing)
All are invited to attend our Wednesday night jam community sessions which are held from 8:00 - 10:00 PM every week. All levels and all instruments are invited. A $3.00 donation is suggested for listeners and players. The jam sessions were especially important in past times for musicians to learn from each other and review the jazz repertoire. Today is no exception. A supportive environment prevails in order to encourage musicians who can, at a minimum, play through a melody. Most musicians also use the opportunity to explore their improvising "chops." Sessions are attended by a myriad of musicians from diverse backgrounds. High School and college students are especially urged to attend. This open jam at the Vermont Jazz Center has been taking place since 1997 and is a means for young and old to hone their skills together.

Check out the VJC's website at and find class descriptions and further information on all the VJC's offerings. For registration: 802 254 9088 or For information on class content No one will be turned away due to lack of funds, please call to find out about the VJC's scholarship and extended payment options.

List of Classes and Ensembles Vermont Jazz Center Spring/Winter 2016

  • Blue Note Ensemble 5:15 - 6:45, Scott Mullett
  • Brattleboro Rock Chorus 7:30 - 9:00, Tony Lechner
  • Youth Jazz Ensemble 3:45 - 5:00, Eugene Uman
  • Latin Jazz Ensemble 4:15 - 5:45, Gerstin/Uman
  • VJC Sextet (full) 6:00 - 7:30, Rob Freeberg
  • Jam Session 8:00 - 10:00, Uman
  • Women's Jazz Harmony 5:45 - 7:30, Anna Patton

Concert Season, 2015-2016 Vermont Jazz Center
(All concerts held on at 8:00 PM and on Saturdays except where noted)
  • September 18th (Friday), 2015 - Jamie Baum Septet
  • September 19th, 2015 - Steve Wilson + Wilsonian's Grain
  • October 2nd (Friday), 2015 - Emerging Artist Series: Carlos Averhoff, Jr. Quartet
  • October 17th, 2015 - Carl Allen Quintet
  • October 30th (Friday), 2015 - Sofia Rei Quartet (in collaboration w/Next Stage)
  • November 14th, 2015 - Tribute to Jobim with Brazilian Vocalist Maucha Adnet
  • December 4th (Friday), 2015 - VJC Big Band and Guest Vibraphonist, Richard Greenblatt Pay Tribute to Terry Gibbs' Dream Band
  • January 23rd, 2016 - Bobby Broom Trio
  • February 13th, 2016 - Eric Alexander Quartet + Scott Mullett
  • March 12th, 2016 - Fred Hersch Trio
  • March 26th, 2016 - Under the Radar Series: Michael Zsoldos + String Quartet
  • April 16th, 2016 - Renee Rosnes Quartet
  • May 14th, 2016 - Ben Williams Quartet
  • June 11th, 2016 - Eugene Uman's Convergence Project

The Vermont Jazz Center is an internationally recognized institution that provides jazz education, programming and outreach. Currently in its 40th year, it was founded in 1974 by the legendary guitarist, Attila Zoller and is now run by pianist, Eugene Uman.

The VJC features a summer jazz workshop, a monthly concert series, Wednesday night jam sessions, and frequent collaborations with area schools, arts organizations and businesses.

Mission: The Vermont Jazz Center is dedicated to creating and preserving jazz through the presentation of workshops, concerts, and instruction to a broad constituency of artists, students, and the general public.

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Upcoming Concerts
Steve Davis Sextet Celebrates the Music of J.J. Johnson Featuring pianist Harold Mabern and special guest, Scott Mullett
Saturday, February 13th, 8:00 PM
Fred Hersch Trio
March 12th, 2016, 8:00 PM
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