Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra: A Triple Celebration
June 18 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
This year, Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra is celebrating 20 years since the release of its debut CD, 27 EAST. Recorded at the now defunct Clinton Studios by acclaimed recording engineer James Farber, produced by Anita herself and assisted by Jim McNeely, this Digital-Analog-Digital recording of seven of Brown’s originals deserves a joyous 20- year Commemorative in 2023.
Always inspired by life’s stories and beautiful places, Anita’s works are best described as tone poems of emotion, life events and orchestral snapshots of her favorite moments by the sea in Montauk, NY. This year she will premiere the second of two NYSCA Commissions, Red Moon Rising, also inspired by a visit to Montauk.
The daughter of two musicians who met while studying with Lennie Tristano in the 1950’s, Anita’s ear for music ignited as a newborn, listening to Mom & Dad, Phyllis & Ted Brown practice, and attending Lennie’s sessions in a basket. She recalls her frequent request as a toddler, “Daddy, play me a low note!” for which she would stick her head in the bell of his tenor.
Brown is an award-winning composer, garnering an ASCAP Award for The Lighthouse at The Center for Jazz Composition’s inaugural Jazz Composers Symposium (aka ISJAC). The stellar panel consisted of composers John Clayton, Dave Douglas and Bob Brookmeyer, who, following its reading said, “You got my attention in the first two measures.”
Anita was awarded 2022 & 2019 NYSCA Individual Artist Composer Commissions for Red Moon Rising and Hart Island Suite, respectively, 2020 Project Grants from NYFA and NewMusicUSA and recognition as a Rising Large Jazz Ensemble from DownBeat Magazine’s Critics Poll. Premiered in August 2021, Hart Island Suite is tied to NYC history through a poignant family story and offers a wide embrace for healing grief with its New Orleans-style second line jazz funeral in its finale.
In 2011 she was bestowed a Legislative Proclamation from The Rockland County Legislature for her five- movement piece of performance art, Stand: A Symphony for Jazz Orchestra, commemorating and depicting our national tragedy on 9/11 for its tenth anniversary. This unique piece brought the USMC Silent Drill Platoon from Washington, DC to the stage with Brown’s stellar players in an effort to share their strength and resolve in silence, representing all first responders in this American story. In 2013 Disarming The Tempest was premiered by The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, which she composed for them upon invitation by American Composers Orchestras’ Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute.
Brown is an eight-year Fellow of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop under the mentorship of Manny Albam and Jim McNeely. Her deep affinity for the harmonic and structural content of classical composers Igor Stravinsky and Gustav Holst is evident as she juxtaposes influences of Count Basie, Thad Jones, Jim McNeely, Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder and Tower of Power.
Anita is described as a talented, ‘original thinker’ who writes with passion and ‘fresh mind-expanding ideas.’ She has a ‘unique ear for dissonance and writes music that penetrates your very soul…with remarkable craftsmanship’ which she conducts with ‘skill, elegance and passion’. Her band, Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra, has been described in the press as a ‘blue-chip’ ensemble, calling upon ‘top drawer New York session players’ including a ‘platoon of persuasive soloists breathing life into Ms. Brown’s works with conviction and finesse.’ Since 2000 this dynamic large ensemble has boasted top New York musicians whose careers have woven the fabric of its jazz, Broadway and commercial session scenes for decades. Their collective credits include the large ensembles of Maria Schneider, Toshiko Akiyoshi, The Vanguard, Westchester and Gotham Jazz Orchestras, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Natalie Cole, Steely Dan, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, countless Broadway shows, films & jingles in addition to members’ own projects.
“I’ve known Anita for a long time… she’s developed into an important writer.” –Lee Konitz, NEA Jazz Master Saxophonist
“Disarming charts… reveal myriad details of subtle wit and flexible spirit…using brass with the acumen and majesty of Johnny Richards…and wave-like riffs that break into Mingus-like backbeat.” –Fred Bouchard, DownBeat Magazine
“Anita has a unique ear for dissonance, and seems to me less beholden to some of [the] models. She has swallowed and legitimately incorporated her influences and sounds only like herself.”–Larry Kart, Author of Jazz In Search of Itself
“Anita’s compositions are marvelous tone poems… Serious, beautiful writing and a wonderful group. This band is in the same category as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Maria Schneider.”–Marvin Stamm, Trumpet Artist
“A loving, caring band making great music together. Fantastic arrangements. Anita’s charts blew me away!”–Sheila Jordan, NEA Jazz Master Vocalist
“Exquisite is not enough of an adjective. Words not enough. Brilliant.”–Greg Adams, Trumpet Artist/Arranger: Tower of Power