Eugene Uman’s Convergence Project returns to Vermont Jazz Center

BRATTLEBORO — Composer and pianist Eugene Uman and the original members of the Convergence Project will return to the Vermont Jazz Center for a reunion concert, performing original jazz compositions on Saturday, May 21, at 8 p.m.

The music of the Convergence Project is described in a news release as balancing “an artistic tightrope between fresh, innovative, and exploratory on one side, and accessible, understandable and visceral on the other.”

Members of the Convergence Project joining Uman will be Michael Zsoldos on saxophone, Jeff Galindo on trombone, Stomu Takeishi on electric bass, and Satoshi Takeishi on drums.

This configuration of the Convergence project, with the Takeishi brothers' rhythm section, hasn't performed together since 2015. Uman has prepared new material and revised compositions in preparation for this concert.

“The intention when writing these pieces was to combine the vocabulary of jazz with the edge of rock and funk and the inspiration of Colombian folkloric rhythms such as pasillo, cumbia, currulao, puya, and porro,” Uman said in a news release.

Uman is a composer, pianist, and educator. He has been the executive artistic director of the Vermont Jazz Center since 1997. Organizers say he has worked tirelessly to connect music and the local community.

He has written more than 200 jazz compositions, including three that appeared on Latin Jazz star Sammy Figueroa's 2005 Grammy-nominated CD, In Walked Sammy.

NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath has called Uman's compositions “music of substance and integrity.” Another saxophone legend, Jerry Bergonzi, says “I always love listening to Eugene's compositions; they make so much musical sense and bring you on a journey with a very healing, uplifting feel.”

“In putting together the Convergence Project, I have created a situation in which I could effectively express all the styles that have influenced my own compositions” said Uman.

As well, he says, everyone in the Convergence Project is encouraged to add their own voice to the big picture. The band concept is founded on the synergy of each musician's personal style in combination with the primordial, rhythmical pulse.

“I so value the way that they insert their own experiences and knowledge, surprising me and exponentially enhancing the creative result. Our feelings of mutual respect for each other establishes an environment that cultivates trust and therefore permits a willingness to take chances.”

Uman refers to the Convergence Project as his “dream band.” Each musician is skilled at reading and interpreting his compositions, he says-they are all strong soloists, each with a unique sound and an individualized vocabulary. “The entire band is able to authentically interpret both Latin and swing rhythms and everyone is fearless, willing to stretch out into unfamiliar territory and jump into the abyss of the unknown.”

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