Vermont Jazz Center Sextet returns to Main Street Arts
The VJC Jazz Sextet performs Sept. 28 at Main Street Arts. From left: Bill Ballard, Rob Freeberg, Cathy Martin, Jay Elfenbein, Jim Heffron, and Mike Patek.

Vermont Jazz Center Sextet returns to Main Street Arts

SAXTONS RIVER — The Vermont Jazz Center Sextet makes a return visit to Main Street Arts in a performance Friday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m., featuring the music of some of the greats of jazz.

Works by Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Art Blakey, mixed in with some original music and arrangements written by members of the ensemble, promise an up-tempo experience for lovers of jazz.

The sextet is the VJC's outreach ensemble that brings live jazz to a wider audience in less formal settings such as schools, assisted-living facilities, and libraries.

The members of the group are Mike Patek, drums, Rob Freeberg, trumpet, Cathy Martin, piano, Jay Elfenbein, bass, Jim Heffron, tenor saxophone, and Bill Ballard, alto saxophone.

Patek is a frequent player with jazz groups at the VJC and surrounding area. He began playing drums in junior high and continued through high school and at Haverford College, eventually working in rock and jazz bands in Philadelphia and New York. He participates in the VJC's Latin Jazz and Bebop ensembles.

Freeberg directed high school, jazz, and big bands for 30 years and performed as a freelance trumpeter in the New York area before moving to Vermont and becoming involved with the VJC. He now serves on the board, directs its Big Band and has taught in the Summer Jazz Workshop.

Martin has studied classical music most of her life and is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music. She came to jazz later in her musical career when she studied with the late Charlie Banacos, and she continues studying with VJC Director Eugene Uman. She is a church music director and accompanist for local theater and choral groups.

Elfenbein is principal bassist and violon player for ensembles in the U.S. and Europe, as well as viola da gamba soloist and improviser in early music, jazz, rock, and other styles. Director of the Ivory Consort and GambaDream groups, he is also a composer whose work has been performed in the U.S., Japan, Canada, Europe, and South America.

A performer for more than 50 years, Heffron has played in ensembles ranging from jazz combos to big band to rock. He recalls hearing Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, and other jazz greats in this childhood.

Ballard said he fell in love with jazz as a third grader after seeing Louis Armstrong and His All Stars. His experience ranges from the Army Band at Fort Bliss, Texas, to soul bands, bebop ensembles, and jazz groups. For 40 years, he has been the go-to technician for some of the area's finest pianos.

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