Coming To A Haybarn Theatre Near You (on Dec 7)

Please join us at The Goddard College Haybarn Theatre on Friday Dec 7. Tickets can be purchased here.

Here’s some more . . .


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The Saturn People’s Sound Collective: Box Office Open

Tickets for our December 7 show at The Goddard College Haybarn Theatre can be purchased at The Goddard Online Box Office.

Doors open @ 7 PM

$15 for advance tickets . . . hey, that’s only

.75 per musician!

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A Joyful Noise

Nearly 20 years ago I arrived in Plainfield reeling from the confines of the music conservatory experience.  Convinced that I was done with music for good, I landed into the free-form unknown of Goddard College.  For the first time in my life I felt unburdened by expectation and given the the support and freedom to seamlessly experience life and education at the same time.

Despite my best intentions to avoid music, I was instantly drawn to Don Glasgo’s Jazz Workshop group study where I was introduced to Sun Ra for the first time.  Despite my having come up in Philadelphia just a few miles from the Arkestra’s Germantown home I had never heard of Sun Ra and knew nothing of the joyful noise regularly created by his creative music Arkestra for over 25 years.   Through Don’s gentle and subtle tutelage,  I was able to shed the notions of “right and wrong” in music.   It was in the basement of the Goddard College music building and on the stage of the Haybarn Theatre that I was able to decipher my own musical voice and know that it was okay to do so.

Life seems to be about full circles spirals.  Exactly 20 years later I am honored to have my  new 20-piece musical project, The Saturn People’s Sound Collective premiere Goddard College’s latest artistic incubator  – Goddard College Concert’s The Local Spotlight.  Once again Goddard seems to be the creative catalyst furthering and supporting my musical path.   I love that the picture of the new group above was taken on the steps to one of Goddard’s greatest treasures, the upper garden.  Anyone who has visited the garden has likely felt its formidable influence.

I hope that you can join us on Friday December 7 at 8 PM to share in The Saturn People’s joyful noise.

In the series’ own words:

Goddard College Concerts  is committed to showcasing a local band or musician who has a special project to bring to the stage at the Haybarn Theatre.  The Local Spotlight will feature Vermont musician(s) who are interested in being part of our series and experimenting in the Haybarn Theatre.  Musicians/bands will expand on what they are currently doing on stage by creating a collaborative project with a various local acts, hosting a fundraising effort, expand their show with a special guest new to VT stages or attempt a theatrical extension of their show.  Goddard College has been an incubator of the arts and is proud to instigate musicians to imagine their fullest potential here at the Haybarn Theatre.

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If there were a best of . . .

A recent grant application called for just one sound sample under 5 minutes.

Given that many of my pieces have multiple sections (and my general libra-self indecisiveness) I elected to piece together a collage of original material from the TALA repertoire.   A few of these of are being reworked for the 20-piece Saturn People’s Sound Collective.

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Saturn People Go To Goddard

I am really pleased to announce the official debut of my new project,


A 19-piece ensemble coming from a creative music – chamber – new music – global – big band kind of aesthetic.  Think Steve Reich meets Sun Ra and Sonic Youth on the Silk Road . . . . kind of. 

We are honored to have our premier show presented by the esteemed Goddard College Concert Series.   In fact,  our show is the launch of a new wing to the series called Local Spotlight.  The criteria for the spotlight is that the local artists’ show must be unique and standout from other work that you have done in the past.   My understanding is that they only intend to put on a local spotlight show a few times a year.

The project is made possible in part by the Vermont Community Foundation’s Arts Endowment Fund  (another honor that I am immensely grateful for).  By the way, there is a kickstarter campaign in the works so check back soon if you feel like supporting the project.

We will actually be recording in November and if all goes well I intend to have a brand new album together for the first show.  It is sure to be a limited printing release – but will also be available via bandcamp.

The group includes some of Vermont’s most notable musician from a diverse array of backgrounds. The instrumentation includes 5 reeds (doubling on saxes, clarinets and flutes), 3 trombones, 3 trumpets/flugels, 3 cellos, 1violin/viola, mallet percussion, guitar, piano, bass, modified drum kit, and percussion (Indian tabla,  cajon, Middle Eastern frame drums).

Here’s the whole line up:

Evan Crandell:  Alto Sax, Flute, Clarinet

Jake Whitesell: Alto Sax, Flute, Clarinet

Zach Tonnissen: Tenor Sax

Dan Liptak: Tenor Sax, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet

Luke LaPlant: Bari Sax

Lloyd Dugger: Trombone

Dan Silverman: Trombone

Matt Avery: Trombone

Don Glasgo: Valve Trombone

Brian Boyes: Trumpet, Composer, Conductor

Dave Purcell: Trumpet

Alex Wolston: Trumpet

Max Bronstein: Guitar

Rob Morse: Basses

Gabe Halberg: Tabla, Cajon, Frame Drums

Simeon Chapin: Drum Kit

Hilary Goldblatt: Cello, Flute, Alto Flute

Nelson Caldwell: Cello

Indigo Ruth-Davis: Cello

Caleb Elder: Violin, Viola

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Introducing: The Saturn People’s Sound Collective (by way of a brief history of me).

For the past 18 months I have been ruminating on a new project concept and it seems the time has come to stop ruminating and start working.   I am happy to announce the formation of a new 20-piece ensemble featuring my original compositions, The Saturn People Sound Collective . . . . (please don’t get too attached to the name as I am currently testing its stick-factor).

13 years ago, I left viperHouse after about 5 years of touring and recording.  The driving vH musical mission was a “party for the soul . . . a party for the mind”  In other words bringing jazz and creative music back to the dance hall w/o compromising the groove or the musical integrity.  I loved it.  And of course so much of who I am as a player and writer is thanks to the guidance and leadership of Michael Chorney.  His expert leadership and unsurpassed creative vision was and has been incredibly formative for me.

Shortly after departing viperHouse, I put together a 6-piece original jazz group called TALA.   I think that much of the TALA material was a response to playing groove music for so long (prior to vH I got my start in the Vermont music scene playing with the Plainfield funkmachine Mr. Dooley).  So after vH I was ready to get back to the notorious “music for music’s sake” thing.  For several years I exercised my writing chops and put together a number of pieces that I am proud of.  TALA put out two CDs and did a feature performance at the Flynn Space.  Despite this success, something about TALA never really sat right with me though.  Looking back on it, I suspect that it was inexperience and still feeling compelled to make audiences happy with some kind of tangible groove.

From there I moved onto Money Jungle, a septet performing the popular dance music from unusual eras and places (1930’S Jungle Swing , 1950’S Jamaican Ska, 1970’S Nigerian Music & The Occasional Not-So-Well-Known-Cover).   MJ really helped me to refine my arranging skills and to fine tune my playing.    At some point there was some overlap that eventually led to Zach Tonnissen and I putting together Movement of The People: The Fela Kuti Project.    As a result, the MJ and MOP era reflected 7 years of more dance music.   (Great, interesting, creative, worldly and super fun dance music though!)

So, although my work has (almost) always fallen comfortably within the groove realm, I have always had a foot firmly placed in the experimental and improvised . . . not to mention the global influences that continually inform my playing and writing.   But nonetheless, the music has (almost) always been defined by the groove thing.

Eighteen months ago I had the pleasure of guest conducting the Winooski Valley District Jazz festival.   For the festival I put together an arrangement of my original work from the TALA repertoire.  While working on the piece with central Vermont’s finest high school jazz musicians, I was struck by the composition’s undiscovered potential in the context of a large ensemble.  While groove certainly had a place in the sound, it didn’t dictate the approach.  Rather the music was guided by long-form phrasing and form.

Although I have been composing and performing professionally for 20 years,  practicality has prevented me from writing for a large jazz ensemble. Once I was able to arrange for a large ensemble and hear the results, I felt a completion that I had never experienced with my smaller ensembles.  It was a perfect confluence of my musical progress over the past decade.    It was a bit of an “ah-ha” moment for me.

Since then I have been going back and forth in my head about putting together a professional group that would allow me to further explore the potential of my compositions.   So here we are: The Saturn People’s Sound Collective.

The repertoire for SPSC is being written for 20 musicians –  some of whom will double on voice and percussion.  Sonically, the music is coming from a creative music – chamber-new music–global-big band kind of aesthetic (think Steve Reich meets Sun Ra and Sonic Youth in the Middle East).

Specifically the instrumentation will include 5 reeds (saxes, clarinet and flutes), 2 trombones, 3 trumpets, 2 cellos, 1 violin/viola, mallet percussion, guitar, piano, modified drum kit, and percussion (tabla, cajon, middle eastern frame drums ).

I am confident that this is my best work to date and I quite excited to see it come to life.  We’re hoping to debut the group for a series of early November performances . . . . stay tuned. 

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Reflecting on The Limes

I’ve been recently going through some old recordings and came across a CD recorded in 2007 by my student ensemble The Limes.  It was fun for me to come across this recording, because I honestly haven’t listened to it since it was released.  Not knowing what to expect, I threw the CD into my laptop, donned some earbuds and took a listen.  While some of the tunes didn’t quite capture the live energy the band brought to the shows packed to the gills with their high-school compatriots, a couple of the  tracks were pleasantly surprising.   Of course this CD, Onward and Outward only tells a small part of The Limes story.

On Halloween of 2005, I returned to Cabot School after an extended leave to travel to China to adopt our baby daughter.  I knew that I was returning to a rather unusual high school band configuration – a few wind players, a rhythm section, a singer who had never sung in public before and one student who was interested in the music business but didn’t play an instrument.   Little did I know that this unusual grouping would turn into one of the best years of my teaching career.  In a few short classes, it became clear that we should become a band and we were going to have a manager who was going to book us gigs and do other such manager-y things.  Of course, we didn’t have any songs other than a cover-in-progress of Summertime. 

However, by late spring we had performed in clubs and schools across the state, recorded a CD (titled with a name only high school kids could think of – Best of The Zest) at a professional studio in Burlington, made it on to the evening news, had a slew of merch and were poised to embark on an east coast tour.

And then June graduation came and it was all done – this uncanny, 9-month experiment of amateur student musicians that broke two Montpelier venue attendance records and became rock stars in their very own town of Cabot.

By the next fall , an inkling of The Limes 2.0 began to emerge.  Diana Winn of Rebop Records approached me with the notion of another Limes to serve as the house band for a kids TV show that she was co-producing with Video Vision in Barre, VT.

Fast forward to yet another fall, and we were into Limes 3.0 –   the last of the zest.  So to sum it all up, here are a couple of tracks from the last of The Limes.

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