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The Commons
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Courtesy photo

Camille Thurman

The Arts

Camille Thurman Quartet to perform at the Vermont Jazz Center

Tickets for The Camille Thurman Quartet 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, online at www.vtjazz.org, or by email at ginger@vtjazz.org. Tickets also can 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.

Originally published in The Commons issue #432 (Wednesday, November 1, 2017). This story appeared on page B4.



BRATTLEBORO—Saxophonist/vocalist/composer Camille Thurman will appear in the “Emerging Artist Series” with the Darrell Green Trio at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m.

Called a “rising star” by Downbeat magazine and a “first class saxophonist that blows the proverbial roof off the place” by All About Jazz, Camille Thurman will be accompanied by her touring ensemble, the Darrell Green Trio, which includes Darrell Green, drums; David Bryant, piano; Rashaan Carter, bass.

Thurman is a modern player who both honors the past and looks toward the future. Her promotional materials make the legitimate claim that her sound on tenor evokes Dexter Gordon and Joe Henderson and that her vocals are suggestive of Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter.

This is all true, yet Thurman’s concepts are fresh, innovative, and modern. She takes delight in presenting material that is informed by the legendary masters while simultaneously imbuing it with the hip language of her generation.

As a vocalist, Thurman was a runner up in the 2013 Sarah Vaughan Jazz Vocal Competition. You can hear her intimate familiarity with Sassy’s singing on Thurman’s album Inside the Moment where she draws on Vaughan’s classic phrasing in her performance of “Cherokee.”

With close listening, one finds that Thurman’s vocal work demonstrates an undeniable kinship and love for her preceding sisters in jazz, but there is a strong undercurrent of more contemporary influences like Dianne Reeves and Dee Dee Bridgewater as well.

Thurman usually plays the tenor saxophone on her compelling originals. She conveys an old-school authority, much like that of one of her mentors, George Coleman. In her saxophone playing, as in her singing, Thurman’s sound is also grounded in the advanced vocabulary of modern inspirations like Josh Redman or Ben Wendel.

Rhythmic explorations

Although she is a precise player, Thurman also knows how to stretch out and to communicate with her rhythm section. She can “burn” with the best and her improvisational forays are often rhythmically charged. Thurman masterfully dodges between floating above the dense sound of the rhythm section and getting right into the thicket along with it.

As a composer, Thurman has been honored by the Kennedy Center and is a two-time recipient of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award. In addition to her prowess as a writer, Thurman also has a gift for turning familiar songs on their heads and performing them as instrumentals.

On her 2013 release, Origins, one can hear how she modernized Fats Waller’s venerable standard “Jitterbug Waltz” by superimposing the melody over a challenging, odd-metered rhythmical matrix.

As a performer, Thurman has been a member of the All Star Band in BET’s Black Girls Rock. She is a recipient of the Lincoln Center Award for Outstanding Young Artist and has served as a Fulbright Scholar/Cultural Ambassador in Nicaragua and Paraguay.

But perhaps most telling are the all-stars who have hired this young musician to perform in their bands as a featured artist. Thurman has worked with George Coleman, Roy Haynes, Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis & the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Terri Lyne Carrington, Jon Hendricks, Pattie LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Louis Hayes, Russell Malone, Nicholas Payton, Jacky Terrasson, Alicia Keys, Lalah Hathaway, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu among others.

As an indication of her busy schedule, highlights of Thurman’s 2017 season include performances with Harry Connick Jr., Audra MacDonald, Diana Krall, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Renee Fleming, Roberta Gambarini, and Kenny Washington along with the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra for the “Ella at 100: Forever The First Lady of Song” gala.

Longtime collaborators

At the Vermont Jazz Center on Nov. 4, Thurman will be performing with her longtime associate drummer Darrell Green and his trio. Green currently tours with Cassandra Wilson, Pharoah Sanders, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Antoine Roney, Charles Toliver, Sherman Irby, Steve Turre, Wallace Roney, Faye Carol, Amina Figarova, The Black Arts Collective, and Jeremy Pelt. He regularly performs in New York, Europe, and Japan.

The pianist of the Darrell Green Trio is David Bryant who (like Camille Thurman) graduated from New York’s LaGuardia High School of Music and Arts where he won the “Outstanding Soloist” award at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition; he was also selected as the pianist in the Grammy Foundation’s All-American Jazz Combo.

Bryant is currently a regular member of the Steve Davis Quintet, Myron Walden/Darren Barrett Quintet, Jen Shyu’s Jade Tongue and James “Jabbo” Ware’s Orchestra. He has also played with Ravi Coltrane, Roy Haynes, Dave Holland, Jimmy Heath, Steve Coleman, Kenny Wheeler, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Henderson, Bob Brookmeyer, George Garzone, Eric McPherson, Abraham Burton, and many others in the New York and international jazz scene. He has recorded as a sideman with Jeremy Pelt, Eric McPherson, Dezron Douglas, Louis Hayes, Marcus Strickland, Steve Davis, Myron Walden, and Abraham Burton.

Bassist Rashaan Carter grew up in the Washington, D.C., area. While attending the New School in New York City he began to work with many of the faculty, including Joe Chambers and Jimmy Owens.

He has worked with Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller and Louis Hayes, Wallace Roney, Marc Cary, Cindy Blackman, Doug and Jean Carn, Antoine Roney, Sonny Simmons, and many more. He also studied with one of his prime influences, Ron Carter. He appears on recordings with Marc Cary, Aruán Ortiz, Wayne Escoffery, Josh Evans, Frank Lacy, Wallace Roney, and others.

Camille Thurman is a creative force, a gifted musician who emulates, respects, and learns from the past while fearlessly navigating a clear, innovative pathway to the future. Find out why Grammy-winning guitarist Russell Malone claims: “Camille has a warm and beautiful sound ... she is a creative improviser, she swings, has good time and plays with taste. Keep your ears on this young lady!”

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