Steve Davis Sextet celebrates the music of J.J. Johnson

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BRATTLEBORO >> The VJC welcomes Steve Davis Sextet to perform 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 concert at 8 p.m. on Saturday. 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. Tickets are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D., available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or at www.vtjazz.org, or reserved by calling 802-254-9088, ext. 1.


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