BRATTLEBORO — On Saturday at 8 p.m., the Vermont Jazz Center kicks off its 2021-2022 concert season with a bang by presenting the vibrant organ trio of Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart, called “the best organ trio of the last decade” by the New York Times.
To respect the health concerns of our community, the jazz center is asking all attendees to be vaccinated and masked. Furthermore, the in-person audience will be limited to 50% capacity. Catching this top-level band at the center in Brattleboro is a rare experience; this concert has been three years in the planning, postponed twice due to the pandemic.
The Goldings/Bernstein/Steward Organ Trio has been called “one of current jazz’s finest small groups” by JazzTimes magazine and “the longest-lived and most virtuosic organ trio in existence” by SFJazz. Together now for 30 years, they have recorded over a dozen albums and performed hundreds of concerts in festivals and celebrated venues around the world. Their grooving repertoire celebrates the funky sounds of the organ trio; influences include Larry Young, Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff. But this trio stands out due to brilliant musicianship, an ability to play difficult music and have it sound easy, and a commitment to the groove no matter what the tempo or style.
The ensemble is a true collective. The musicians share a sense of mutual respect, function and input. They know their roles, but they understand that, at any moment, there might be a switching of emphasis and the need to switch. The drummer Bill Stewart, for example, is a key element providing a propulsive forward, funky motion. But all three instruments serve a complementary, locked-in rhythmical function. Their unity, blend and emphasis of rhythm results in an uplifted feeling for each tune.
The guitarist, Peter Bernstein, has a deep connection to the Vermont Jazz Center. In 1983, at the age of 15, he attended one of the early iterations of the Vermont Jazz Center’s Summer Jazz Workshop. Back then, he thought that the “coolest thing in the world was to play free.” He was under the impression that by working with the jazz center’s founder, Attila Zoller, he would gain insight into that genre. But Zoller’s message to Bernstein was “first you’ve got to play tunes and play in time, then you can play free.”
Years later when Bernstein was touring with saxophone great Lou Donaldson, Zoller came to a gig and asked Bernstein “what happened to playing free?” His response was “I’m still working on the basics, man.” Since then, Bernstein has evolved into one of the true masters of his instrument, especially in the bebop-influenced style.
Larry Goldings on Hammond organ is perhaps best known for his close association with James Taylor, with whom he tours constantly. But his contributions to numerous genres including funk, pop, and electronic music are prolific. Over the years, Goldings has played and recorded with John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Jim Hall, Maceo Parker, Madeleine Peyroux, Pat Metheny, and pop artists Taylor and John Mayer. In 2007, Goldings, Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield received a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Jazz Instrumental Album for their recording Trio Beyond: Saudades.
Drummer/composer Bill Stewart established himself on the scene in 1990 as the rhythmical force behind guitarist John Scofield. Stewart has also recorded extensively with Pat Metheny, John Patitucci, Bill Charlap, Wycliffe Gordon, Martial Solal, Pat Martino, Chris Potter, Maceo Parker, Kevin Hays, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Charlie Haden, Steve Wilson, Marc Copland, Don Grolnick, Nicholas Payton, Joe Henderson and many others and has also put out 11 albums as a leader.
The jazz center is grateful for the generosity of long-term support by guitarist/pianist/vocalist Chris Welles, this concert’s sponsor. Chris is himself a fine musician working in the Boston area with the group Outrageous Fortune. He is a mentee of Sheila Jordan and, as such, has become a community member of the Vermont Jazz Center Summer Jazz Workshop. Publicity is underwritten by The Commons and The Brattleboro Reformer. The center is also grateful to the Vermont Arts Council, the Vermont Humanities Council and New England Foundation of the Arts for their support and increased efforts to stabilize the existence of arts organizations during the pandemic.
Admission to the in-person event is offered on a sliding fee scale from $20 to $40 per person and will be capped at 120 attendees. The online streaming of this concert will be offered free of charge but donations are welcomed and are just a click away. Please give generously and support live music. Access to the online event can be found at vtjazz.org and at facebook.com/VermontJazzCenter/live.
Tickets for the in-person show: $20+ general admission; available online at vtjazz.org, by email at email@example.com, and at In the Moment in Brattleboro. Handicapped access is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.