Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra

Anita is a native of Northeasten Massachusetts and Metropolitan New York. She attended The Pingree School, South Hamilton, MA, and then graduated from Andover High School. While her family moved to Long Island in September 1977, Anita maintained strong ties with New England. She was able to wake up at dawn by the engines of lobster trawlers just outside her bedroom on the southern Gulf of Maine coast. Lennie Tristano, a legendary jazz musician, began teaching her lessons in fall 1977. She learned to sing along with Billie Holiday’s recordings, imitating her phrasings and inflections. This lead to her singing the tenor-sax solos by Lester “Prez” Young, striving to be accurate with his melodic choices and phrasing, as well as her vocal character. Brown, a freshman at SUNY Westbury in 1978, lived in Sea Cliff, NY. Brown studied Music Education and African Dance and Choreography through the school’s outstanding dance program. She began her third year of school as a transfer student at the University of New Hampshire, Durham in 1980. She studied voice and classical piano as part of her Music Education major. She was introduced to calligraphy part-copying while studying orchestration under Dr. Mark DeVoto. This skill later proved to be very useful. Anita’s introduction to instrumental conducting under Stanley D. Hettinger (Director of Bands), was a turning point in her life. She declared herself a conducting major at a school that didn’t offer one. She decided to continue her studies in conducting and to prepare for the role of instrumental band director and conductor. Anita’s UNH undergraduate transcripts reflect eight years of study in both instrumental, choral, and score studies. In order to be successful in her instrumental methods classes, she spent a lot of time practicing the Bb Clarinet. Anita, a close friend and former classmate of Maggie Donaghue, now Professor of Clarinet at University of Miami, was amused by this anecdote. The instrument was looked at by all the consulted who said that it was perfect. Put your time into the woodshed. She continued to practice diligently. Janice Brown, her TA, gave her a very good grade after she had successfully completed the First Rose Etude. Janice Brown, TA, asked Janice to look at Janice’s instrument and ask, “Have your been using this reed for the whole semester?” Anita replied, “Yes.” “Who gave this reed to you?” “Dave Seiler.” (Director of Jazz Studies, Professor of Clarinet. Janice repeated her question and was again satisfied with the answer. Anita was then informed by Janice that she had been given an incorrect reed for the Eb Sopranino Clarinet to learn how to play the Bb Clarinet. This is not the best recipe to success. It was later that she found success and faced her fear of the mysterious brass instruments. Anita began her career in Music Education with a part-time position as a band director while she was still in her third year at UNH. This was her additional practicum in advanced conducting. After starting her career, she returned to New York. She taught at a small private school and enrolled at Herbert H. Lehman College in The Bronx. She was able to do an independent study with Dr. Lyn Christine in the arranging of big bands. This was also when she began to understand the mysteries of brass instruments. As she was fascinated by the “brass chops”, it seemed like a great time. After a conversation with two of her friends Tony Kadleck gave her the trumpet, and Greg Gisbert gave her the Bach 7C mouthpiece. He also dictated the overtone sequence to her. After a few hours of standing in her closet, blowing long tones and trying to figure out the beast on her own with occasional lessons via telephone with the masters of the trumpet, she was able to continue her work. When it came time to register for Brass Methods at Lehman College, she was ready to assume the role of “Lead trumpet” for the last time in her professional career. She continues to use the same equipment her dear friends gave her, and she continues to write, play, and teach. The fear of brass turned into an obsession to hear more brass and more moving brass lines. “I believe the lead trumpet is the headlight in the train. It lights the way for all the other members of the band. After a long career in Music Education Anita entered the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop in 1995 and began her journey as a composer. Under the guidance of Mike Abene, Manny Albam, and Jim McNeely she started to build a repertoire for jazz orchestra. She was a contributor composer and featured in the workshops’ annual concerts from 2001 to 2003. She was also a finalist for its 2001 Charlie Parker Composition Competitions. She founded Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra in 2000. In 2003, she independently recorded and released her debut CD 27 EAST. This recording, which includes seven of her original compositions, featured Brown as the conductor and contractor. It has been critically acclaimed and was included in six categories of the 46th Grammy Awards ballot. Ms. Brown was the first recipient of an ASCAP/International Jazz Composers Symposium New Music Award for Big Band Works in March 2006. This award was presented in association with The Center for Jazz Composition, USF Tampa. Her piece was chosen by three of the most respected jazz composers, Bob Brookmeyer and John Clayton, out of more than 100 applicants. Brown has composed arrangements for Nnenna Freilon, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra and Chuck Owen, as well as The Jazz Surge for The Center for Jazz Composition’s Gala Opening. Roseanna Vitro, Bobby Short, and a host of New York R musicians will also be performing Brown’s arrangements.

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