The Vermont Jazz Center presents Eugene Uman's Convergence Project


BRATTLEBORO >>The Vermont Jazz Center presents Eugene Uman's Convergence Project on Saturday at 8 p.m. The Convergence Project is Uman's vehicle to present his original compositions as well as music that has influenced him. The Project includes Michael Zsoldos, saxophones; Jeff Galindo, trombone; Uman, piano; David Picchi, bass (electric and acoustic), and Jon Fisher on drums. There will also be surprise musical guests performing at this event.

After spending several years in Colombia, Eugene Uman found a niche blending the rhythms of Colombia such as cumbia, bambuco and pasillo with jazz harmonies. While living in Antioquia, Uman was commissioned by the Big Band of Medellín to write for their 20-piece orchestra. He composed Blues para Urabá, a tribute to the strength of the common people of Urabá who were, at that time, in the midst of a civil war. The rousing climax of that composition used a rhythm from the Atlantic coast called currulao. After finding such power in that experience, Uman continued to investigate the rhythms and forms of the music of his newly adopted homeland andinternalized a small handful of the immense and richly varied catalog of Colombian rhythms. Uman continues to visit Latin America; his relationship to Colombia, its people, highly developed art and music, will never be shaken. Still, his focus (and the repertoire of theConvergence Project) has morphed into a personalized amalgam of jazz-influenced styles. It continues to reference Colombian rhythms but has evolved to give a greater voice to Uman's love of vocal jazz, bebop, rock, gospel, and funk roots. He states: "Themusic that I compose is a reflection of my accumulated experiences. It is affected bywhat I am currently paying attention to but is also strongly influenced by the listeningand performing experiences of my formative years in rock, jazz, classical contexts. Butprobably most importantly, my writing is impacted by my observations of the naturalworld, emotional upheavals, current events, the sounds of where I have live and visit andwhat I am studying. The syntax and language I use is primarily informed by my jazztraining and by observing and analyzing other musicians. The beauty of this jazz language is that it is utilized in a process that gives us numerous options. The improvisational (and compositional) vocabulary is both personal and based on a historicalprecedent that by definition gives us permission to blend styles and express innovation. This combination of options offers me and my band mates opportunities to riff off of given frameworks and take each composition towards new and exciting directions."

For the core of this newly configured Convergence Project, Uman sought out musicians who bring a youthful, strong voice to his compositions. He found this in a rhythm section that was near at hand: Dave Picchi and Jon Fisher are two friends and professional associates he has known since they were both in college (the three met while Uman was teaching at UMass, Amherst in the early 2000s). These two players have accepted the task of studying and assimilating Colombian rhythms into their own vocabularies. They are a rhythm team that brings a sense of unity cultivated from years of playing bass and drums together in numerous groups that explore a wide range of styles. David Picchi and Jon Fisher join veteran Convergence Project members, saxophonist Michael Zsoldos and trombonist Jeff Galindo. Together the completed ensemble offers a new twist to the interpretation of Uman's familiar repertoire and opens doors leading to the creation of new compositions with limitless possibilities. Each member brings their own highly developed personal approaches to Uman's music, uplifting it with original lines, hard driving grooves, attention to dynamics, acute listening skills, and a group commitment to giving the music shape and substance.

Saxophonist Michael Zsoldos has performed with Paquito D'Rivera, Sheila Jordan, Ernie Watts, Matt Wilson, Rebecca Parris, and Jerry Bergonzi and has opened for piano legend McCoy Tyner. Michael has arranged for and performed with the horn section of the Dartmouth Gospel Choir and Chicago's One Accord. They performed at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Umbria, Napoli, Rome, Chicago's House of Blues, Jazz at Lincoln Center and at the Obama Inauguration. Zsoldos plays with the Discover Jazz Festival Big Band in Burlington, and the Vermont Jazz Center Big Band in Brattleboro.

For six years, Michael was the Band Director at Woodstock Union High School and Middle School and is currently on the teaching faculties of Castleton State College and Interplay Jazz Camp.

Born in San Francisco, California, Jeff Galindo attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts on scholarship after high school. He also studied with Hal Crook, Jerry Bergonzi, and George Garzone with grants by the National Endowment of the Arts and began free-lancing in the Boston area. His experience includes tours of Europe with Phil Woods and Japan with Makoto Ozone as well as tours with the Artie Shaw Orchestra, Irving Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, and Robin McKelle. Galindo toured the world as the Trombonist and Musical Director with Esperanza Spalding and has performed with such notables as Chick Corea, Clark Terry, Joe Lovano, George Russell, Slide Hampton, and Johnny Griffin. He has also performed with Gunther Schuller, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Bergonzi, Bobby Shew, The Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (among many others). In Boston, Jeff performs regularly with the Greg Hopkins Big Band and Nonet, The Galindo/Phaneuf Sextet (with which he has released a cd "Locking Horns" in 1998 and won Boston Magazines "Best of Boston" for a jazz group in 1999. He also released a new cd called "Talkin' Horns" in 2013) withhis double quartet with George Garzone, and in Quartet and Trio settings. He is currently one of the top free-lancing trombonists in the Boston area.

David Picchi has been performing and teaching music throughout the Pioneer Valley since 2001. As an electric and double bass player, skilled in multiple genres, he has been called to play on many diverse recording and performance projects. David is the Administrative Director for the UMass Jazz in July Summer Music Programs, teaches at Amherst College and Mt. Holyoke College and contributes to the production, performance and educational programs at the HCC Jazz Festival, Northampton Jazz Festival, and the Vermont Jazz Center. David has performed or recorded with Karrin Allyson, Chocolate Peach, FlavaEvolution, the Leah Randozzo Group, Evelyn Harris, Chuck Langford, Yusef Lateef, Kevin Mahogany, Rebecca Holtz, Samirah Evans, Charles Neville, Dick Oatts, Arturo O'Farrill, Beau Sasser, Miro Sprague, and many others.

Drummer Jon Fisher is a member of the Green Street Trio with whom he's had the opportunity to perform with a myriad of Jazz luminaries including Charles Neville, Houston Person, Grant Stewart, Wayne Escoffery, Chris Cheek, Jay Hoggard, Steve Davis, Sheila Jordan, Karrin Allyson, Nat Reeves, John Lockwood, Gary Smulyan, Ralph Lalama, and many others. Notable performances include The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival (2009-2014), The Northampton Jazz Festival (2010-2014) and The Blue Note Jazz Club (2009) with the late, great guitarist Melvin Sparks.

he VJC is especially grateful for sponsorship of this event by the McKenzie Family Charitable Trust whose contribution has made this concert possible. The VJC is also grateful for the 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, WFCR and Chris Lenois of WKVT's Green Mountain Mornings.

Tickets for the Convergence Project at the Vermont Jazz Center 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, by email 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 at 802-254-9088.


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