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Vermont Jazz Center Presents: Eugene Uman’s Convergence Project

The Convergence Project
Concert Date – June 10th, Press Release date: June 6

Press Release
Contact Eugene Uman, Vermont Jazz Center, 802 254 9088,

Short Summary
Who: Eugene Uman (piano + compositions), Michael Zsoldos (saxophone), Jeff Galindo (trombone), David Picchi (electric and acoustic bass) and Jon Fisher (drums). Special guests Wanda Houston (vocals) and Josh Bruneau (trumpet)
What: Original Compositions influenced by Colombian rhythms, funk, gospel and bebop
When: Saturday, June 10th at 8:00 PM
Where: The Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, #222, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Tickets available: online at, by email at, by phone 802 254 9088, in person at In The Moment, Main St., Brattleboro, VT.

The Convergence Project to Perform at the Vermont Jazz Center, Saturday, June 10th at 8:00 PM

The Vermont Jazz Center presents Eugene Uman’s Convergence Project on June 10th at 8:00 PM. The Convergence Project is Uman’s vehicle to present his original compositions and music that have influenced him – it includes Michael Zsoldos, saxophones; Jeff Galindo, trombone; Uman, piano; David Picchi, bass (electric and acoustic) and Jon Fisher on drums. Special musical guests will include Wanda Houston on vocals and Josh Bruneau on trumpet.

After spending several years in Colombia, South America, the native home of his wife, Eugene Uman found a niche blending the rhythms of Colombia such as cumbia, bambuco and pasillo with jazz harmonies. While living in the state of 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 Colombian Atlantic coast called currulao. After that powerful experience, Uman continued to investigate the rhythms and forms of the music of his newly adopted homeland, internalizing a small handful of the immense and richly varied catalog of Colombian rhythms.

Uman continues to visit Latin America. His relationship with Colombia, its people, and its highly developed art and music will never be shaken. He will travel there again in July to visit friends and family, to offer workshops and to perform. Uman’s musical focus and the repertoire of the Convergence 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: “The music that I compose is a reflection of my accumulated experiences. It is affected by what I am currently paying attention to but is also strongly influenced by the listening and performing experiences of my formative years in rock, jazz, classical contexts. But probably most importantly, my writing is impacted by my observations of the natural world, emotional upheavals, current events, the sounds of where I live and visit and what I am studying. 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.”

This concert will feature four new pieces Uman wrote during a week-long musical retreat at High View, a new arts center in Pawlet, VT that loans lodging space and a beautiful piano to juried artists in a remote hill town just north of Manchester, VT. During that time, Uman was able to study Colombian rhythms, compose and arrange the repertoire for this concert. Uman will also feature a gospel-style piece that he wrote 20 years ago as a tribute to the city of Medellín, a new piece based on a familiar Brazilian rhythm called Baião that was written for the VJC’s Latin Jazz Ensemble and some other surprises.

For 2017’s performance Uman has invited two special guests to join the Convergence Project. Wanda Houston will join the Project on vocals. Houston has become an important presence in the Southern Vermont/Massachusetts jazz community. Her boundless energy, swinging delivery, effortless creativity and contagious positive spirit permeate all of the numerous projects she is involved with. She will be singing two of Uman’s collaborations with Verandah Porche and Patty Carpenter (“Say the Moon” and “Wheel of Time”). She will sing wordless vocals on new compositions penned by Uman with Houston’s voice in mind. She will also sing on “Soul of the City,” the gospel tune that Uman wrote to honor the city of Medellín, and will put her imprimatur on Billy Childs’ arrangement of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” which will also be enhanced by a horn arrangement written by David Picchi. Houston grew up singing gospel music in church and with her family’s theater group. She has led an active career as an actress performing on the grand stages of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Broadway; she toured Europe as the wicked stepsister in Sisterella (for which she won “Best Supporting Actress in a Musical” by the NAACP) and has held lead rolls in Ain’t Misbehavin’, Hello Dolly and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Houston was part of the gospel group Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV) with whom she performed on PBS’s Great Performances and earned a Grammy nomination. She has shared the stage with Oleta Adams, Patti Austin, Eartha Kitt, Liza Minelli, Pattie Labelle, Joe Cocker, Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand.

Trumpeter Josh Bruneu will join the Project, as well. Bruneu appeared at the VJC in Steve Davis’ tribute to J.J. Johnson in February of 2016. Originally from Waterbury, VT, Josh came through Vermont’s excellent jazz programs and ended up in at the Jackie McLean Institute at Hartt School of Music. He now lives in New York and is a first call musician in many of the more straight-ahead ensembles based out of Smoke. He has played with Curtis Fuller, Harlod Mabern, Mike LeDonne, Eric Alexander, and Joe Farnsworth.

The Convergence Project is built on merging and of confluences. It inhabits a complex world and, true to its fluid nature, the line-up evolves over time to reflect its environment. The initial Convergence Project included the Takeishi Brothers – Stomu on electric bass and Satoshi on drums and percussion. The band has evolved to use more geographically accessible players to make touring more convenient. For the core of this newly configured Convergence Project, Uman sought out musicians who bring a youthful, strong voice to his compositions, individuals willing to study and internalize the Colombian rhythms that serve as an essential core of the ensemble’s sound. Uman 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. Fisher and Picchi are a rhythm team that brings a sense of unity cultivated during years of playing bass and drums together in numerous groups. They are an in-demand pair, willing to explore a wide range of styles. Along with their myriad individual projects, together they have served as the rhythm section for 5 time Grammy nominee vocalist Karrin Allyson and pianist Miro Sprague.

Picchi and Fisher join veteran Convergence Project members, saxophonist Michael Zsoldos and trombonist Jeff Galindo who have participated in the group since its establishment in 2009. They are essential voices heard on the Convergence Project’s two albums and were members during the group’s three-city tour of Colombia in 2011. The new 7-piece iteration of the ensemble with vocals and trumpet offers a new twist to the interpretation of Uman’s familiar repertoire and opens doors leading to the creation of compositions that evoke a new sound. 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, VT and the Vermont Jazz Center Big Band in Brattleboro, VT. 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, CA, trombonist Jeff Galindo attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA 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 a 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. Galindo 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, Galindo 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 which won Boston Magazines “Best of Boston” for a jazz group in 1999, and recently released a new cd called “Talkin’ Horns” in 2013), with his 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.

Bassist 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, and has been called to play on many diverse recording and performance projects. Picchi 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. Picchi has performed and/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 has had the opportunity to perform with myriad 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.

Vermont Jazz Center presents the Convergence Project with special guests Wanda Houston and Josh Bruneau on Saturday June 10th at 8:00 PM. The 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); by email at 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.
Contact: Eugene Uman –

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