BRATTLEBORO -- Eugene Uman’s Convergence Project is back for its yearly Vermont Jazz Center concert on Saturday at 8 p.m., presenting music that fuses jazz and rock with Colombian rhythms. This concert will celebrate the release of a new album, "Six Elements," recorded last October at Guilford Sound and mixed at Northern Tracks Studio in Wilmington.
On Saturday, the Convergence Project will appear at the VJC. All members will be present except guest cellist Eugene Friesen. Uman will guide the ensemble from the piano, in the company of Michael Zsoldos on saxophones, Jeff Galindo on trombone, Sebastian Cruz on guitar, Stomu Takeishi on bass and Satoshi Takeishi on drums.
Uman refers to the Convergence Project as his dream band. Each musician is skilled at reading and interpreting his compositions, they are all strong soloists, each with a unique sound and an individualized vocabulary. The entire band is able to authentically interpret both Latin and swing rhythms and everyone is fearless, willing to stretch out into unfamiliar territory and jump into the abyss of the unknown.
On Saturday, the Convergence Project will be playing material from its new album as well as debuting a few new compositions. More than half of the material from "Six Elements" utilizes rhythms borrowed from Colombian folkloric music: porro, pasillo, cumbia, puya and bullerengue. Uman uses these rhythms as a springboard for creativity. Uman composed much of the material during a retreat at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H., where he spent two solid weeks composing in a quiet cabin in the woods.
In preparing for the album, there was ample time for the musicians to delve deeply into the compositions: the form, the harmony, the varied rhythms and melodies. The arrangements intentionally travel far afield from traditional structures by incorporating odd meters and musical language from the worlds of jazz and rock. But the pieces based on Colombian rhythms still retain their original folkloric essence.
Everyone in the Convergence Project (especially guitarist Cruz who is from Bogotá) has a direct, personal connection to Colombian culture. They bring a sense of respect and affinity to the source material gained from having visited this rich, complex country and directly assimilating the deep roots of the music’s origin. Each individual is encouraged to add his own voice to the big picture.
In an interview with Chris Lenois, Uman stated: "Each of these musicians brings vast knowledge and wisdom to musical performance. In putting together the Convergence Project, I have created a situation in which I could effectively express all the styles that influence my composition. These musicians go beyond that objective and add depth, sophistication and fun. This band is extremely exciting, I am honored to perform with them and feel very fortunate that they are permanent members of my recording ensemble. The Convergence Project is a dream come true."
Tickets are $20 general, $15 for students, available by calling 802-254-9088, ext. 1, or www.vtjazz.org. Tickets are also available at In the Moment Records, 143 Main St.