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The Arcanauts + Julian Gerstin Sextet

The Arcanauts + Julian Gerstin Sextet
The Arcanauts + Julian Gerstin Sextet


May 31, 2024, 7:00 PM – 11:50 PM



Get an advance look at The Julian Gerstin Sextet’s soon-to-be-released recording, “Songbirds of the Deep Sea.” The music is full of melody and wit, creative improvisations and thoughtful compositions, burning percussion grooves and heartfelt melodies. Based in jazz, it draws on Gerstin’s lifelong immersion in music of Africa and the Caribbean, and recent explorations in Balkan and Arabic traditions. The group is a powerhouse of local creative musicians: Anna Patton on clarinet, Don Anderson on trumpet, Eugene Uman piano, Wes Brown bass, Ben James drum set, in addition to Gerstin’s percussion.

Gerstin explains the guiding concept of the new music: “Imagine being deep under the waves, watching fantastic creatures swim in and out of sight, amazing to see but never staying. That’s music. Always surprising and unknowable.” The music’s varied sounds evoke Afrocuban rumba, Barcelona street fairs, lightning and thunder, a talking forest. Drums from Cuba and Martinique mix with rhythms of Gerstin’s own invention. There’s straightahead funky jazz, too.

Gerstin began studying traditional African and Caribbean drumming in the 1970s, but at the same time apprenticed with avant-garde jazz master Milford Graves. His interests continue to explore both ends of the spectrum. He has studied and performed traditional music in Martinique, Cuba and Ghana, played with experimental jazz artists Joel Harrison and Eddie Gale. He also loves the communal spirit of playing for dancers, and has worked with Afropop bands Kotoja and Zulu Spear, punk legend Richard Hell, New Orleans brass bands and zydeco groups, samba and salsa ensembles. Currently, he appears with the Puerto Rican traditional drumming group Bomba de Aquí, and leads that group’s jazz manifestation, Bombajazzeando. Gerstin also teaches the Latin Jazz and samba ensembles at the Vermont Jazz Center, which are always open to new students.

Anna Patton, clarinet, fronts the contradance band Elixir, is the brains behind the Zara Bode Little Big Band, and leads the 16-voice women’s jazz choir The Soubrettes. Patton is an in-demand musician and instructor nationally in the contradance scene, but is no strict traditionalist: she also delights in experimental improvisation.

Trumpeter Don Anderson is a salsa veteran, currently working with Joe Veléz’s Creatión, and anchors the first trumpet chair in the Vermont Jazz Center Big Band. His soulful and imaginative improvising lends breadth and depth to the sextet.

Eugene Uman, piano, is the Director of the Vermont Jazz Center as well as a composer and bandleader in his own right. He has deep roots in jazz, rock and Latin music, and has performed with Bo Diddley, Sheila Jordan, Sonny Fortune, Bobby Sanabria, and many others. Living part-time in Colombia, Uman brings that country’s rhythms to his playing.

Bassist Wes Brown has perhaps the deepest jazz pedigree in the group: his first professional gig, at age 18, was two years on the road with legendary pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines. Brown has also worked with a stellar array of contemporary experimentalists: Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Wadada Leo Smith, as well as leading the reggae group Rebel Nation. His expansive musical imagination also draws on Indian and African rhythms, Broadway tunes and classical piano.

Ben James, drum set, has performed with musicians ranging from Nigerian master drummer Olatunji to avant-garde jazz saxophonist John Tchicai, to rocker Nels Cline.

The Sextet formed in 2016 and has performed all over New England, including opening the last pre-Covid session of the Vermont legislature. Its music has been praised as “sweet and strong like sugarcane” (DeeDee Cummings), a line that captures its flavor well.


Doors @ 6PM

The Arcanauts @ 7PM

Julian Gerstin Sextet @ 9PM

This event is donation based, bring cash to tip the musicians!


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