Born: June 17, 1959 Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra
Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra gave its debut performance on August 15, 2000 at The Cutting Room in New York City, under the direction of its founder, composer/conductor Anita Brown. Since then, this dynamic ensemble has given performances at a number of New York’s finest venues including Sweet Rhythm, Steinway Hall and John Birks Gillespie Auditorium and was among the featured performing artists at the 2007 IAJE Annual Conference (NYC) and The 2005 New York Brass Conference. ABJO has been compared to both The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Maria Schneider Orchestras and 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. As a writer, Anita has been 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. Brown began building a body of work for jazz orchestra in 1995, during an eight year fellowship in the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop under composers Jim McNeely, Manny Albam and Mike Abene. Her works were featured annually beginning in 1997, and she was a finalist in its 2001 and 2003 Charlie Parker Composition Competitions. She independently produced and released her debut CD “Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra: 27 EAST” in 2003, which appeared in six categories on the ballot for the 46th Grammy Awards. It continues to receive international acclaim since its release. For her highly original piece, “The Lighthouse,” Ms. Brown received the ASCAP/International Jazz Composers’ Symposium New Music Award for Big Band Works in 2006 bestowed by The Center for Jazz Composition and a panel of the highly esteemed composers, Bob Brookmeyer, John Clayton and Dave Douglas.
“The Lighthouse is favorably reminiscent of the works of Evans with Miles Davis on the legendary Sketches of Spain album.” --Curtis Davenport, Jazz Improv Magazine
Her seasoned players are among those who make the New York and international jazz scenes tick. A brief list of their collective playing and recording credits includes associations with The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band, Maria Schneider Orchestra, Gotham Jazz Orchestra, Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, Frank Sinatra, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Harry Connick, Jr., Wayne Shorter, Jimmy Heath, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Mingus Big Band, John Pizzarelli, Jr., Tony Bennett, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin, Donald Fagen, Liza Minelli, Burt Bacharach, The New York Philharmonic, The New York Pops, countless Broadway shows, TV jingles and films.
Brown has also premiered original works with The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, BMI New York Jazz Orchestra, and The Seacoast Big Band under her own baton. In April 2005 she was the first composer commissioned by The Center for Jazz Composition to write and conduct arrangements featuring Nnenna Freelon with Chuck Owen’s Jazz Surge for its Jazz Masterworks Inaugural Gala Celebrations. One of these arrangements was recently featured by Ms. Freelon and Frank Foster’s Loud Minority Big Band at The Jazz Foundation of America’s “A Great Night In Harlem” Gala Fundraiser Concert, May 29, 2008 at The Apollo Theater. On June 2, 2008 she premiered “Remembrance,“ an original piece dedicated to the late bassist, Dennis Irwin, with The VJO at The Village Vanguard, under her direction.
Other bands engaging her arranging services include The Count Basie Orchestra, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Roseanna Vitro with The NJ Performing Arts Center Faculty, Bobby Short, and The Westchester Jazz Orchestra for which she is one of the staff arrangers. Her works have been performed by The U.S. Army’s Jazz Ambassadors, Diane Moser’s Composers’ Big Band, Las Vegas Academy Jazz Ensembles and several college and high school jazz ensembles. She has appeared as guest lecturer/clinician at the 2006 Center for Jazz Composition’s Jazz Composers’ Symposium, The 34th Annual IAJE Conference in 2007, and a number of colleges, elementary and secondary schools nationwide. She was again invited to present her work at the CJC’s 2008 Jazz Composers’ Symposium.
In addition to clinician appearances Ms. Brown has served as an adjudicator for The CJC’s first International Jazz Arranging Competition, honoring Michael Brecker, as well as a number of high school jazz festivals. Anita’s strengths and interests extend to various aspects of production. In addition to producing all facets of 27 EAST she has been sought out to contribute these talents to such live events and recordings as the Memorial Service Concerts of Manny Albam and John Stubblefield, CD Release Party of The Jim McNeely Tentet: “Group Therapy,” and select recordings of Maria Schneider Orchestra, Loren Schoenberg Big Band, Gary Morgan’s PanAmericana, artists Dave Pietro, Michael Hackett and Fran McIntyre. Brown is currently a member of the jazz faculty at Sarah Lawrence College and New Jersey City University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate Jazz Composition and Arranging. Ms. Brown and her band are available for commissions, performances and clinics.
“Anita has swallowed and legitimately incorporated her influences and sounds only like herself.” --Larry Kart, Author of Jazz In Search of Itself
Awards:-Arrangement selected for Jazz Foundation of America "A Great Night in Harlem," Gala Fundraiser, Apollo Theater, May 29, 2008: "Don't Explain" performed by Nnenna Freelon with Frank Foster's Loud Minority Big Band under the direction of Cecil Bridgewater.
-Invited performing artist: Anita Brown Jazz Orchesta, 2007 IAJE Conference, New York City.
-Invited Clinician: "Parameters & Options in Big Band Writing," Anita Brown, 2007 IAJE Conference, New York City.
-First recipient of ASCAP/International Jazz Composers’ Symposium New Music Award for Big Band Works for her piece, "The Lighthouse," bestowed by The Center for Jazz Composition and a panel of the highly esteemed composers, Bob Brookmeyer, John Clayton and Dave Douglas, March 2006.
-Invited Clinician for First International Jazz Composers’ Symposium, Center for Jazz Composition: presentation of analysis of "The Lighthouse," March 2006.
-First composer commissioned by The Center for Jazz Composition to write and conduct arrangements featuring Nnenna Freelon with Chuck Owen’s Jazz Surge for its Jazz Masterworks Inaugural Gala Celebrations, April 2005.
- The Foundation for Public Education Grant: Educational re-granting program for her original, supplementary curriculum for secondary school instrumental programs, "The Composer Residency Project," White Plains Public Schools, White Plains, NY, 2004.
-The Ted Arnold Creative Teaching Grant: Educational re-granting program for her original, supplementary curriculum for elementary school recorder programs, "Let's Compose!," Lincoln Park Public Schools, Lincoln Park, NJ, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
-BMI Jazz Composers' Workshop, Charlie Parker Composition Competition Finalist: 2001 (for "27 EAST") and 2003 (for "Shifting Tides of Montauk").
-BMI Jazz Composers' Workshop Fellow, 1995-2003.
“In 27 EAST, Ms. Brown has created a dense, gorgeous palette of sounds; and exciting debut, from an extremely talented composer who has much to say. --Curtis Davenport, Jazz Improv Magazine, Feb. 2007
Anita Brown's debut recording makes a resounding statement of the wholesomely vital values of big band writing and performance. [Her] giftedness is channeled into her soulful music with strongly perceptible values... Carving out new growth paths...she smoothly weds substance with inspiration and passion, thus fashioning beautiful music. Anita Brown serves serious notice with her maiden voyage orchestra...[and] her unquestioned position of firm strength and resonant originality. --Dr. Herb Wong, Jazz Education Journal, Vol. 37, #4
“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, Dec. 2004
“[Anita’s] compositions are marvelous tone poems...and the band brought them off beautifully. 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
“I’ve known Anita for a long time and have been very interested in how she’s developed into an important writer.” --Lee Konitz, Alto Saxophone Artist
“A loving, caring band making great music together. Fantastic arrangements. Anita’s charts blew me away!” --Sheila Jordan, Legendary Jazz Vocalist
This CD is so good! I'm enjoying it and hear new things every day. --Don Sebesky, Arranger/Orchestrator
This new recording by Anita Brown has been a long time in coming and it is truly worth the wait!! Anita has the ability to write music from the soul and for the soul. Get this CD, you'll love it! Guaranteed! --Jon Faddis, Trumpet Artist
“[Anita] couldn’t have arranged a more impressive coming-out party... aided and abetted on 27 EAST by a blue-chip New York-based ensemble...” --Jack Bowers, www.allaboutjazz.com
The debut CD of the Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra fills me with hope and lifts my spirit. Her skills as an arranger and bandleader convince me that the future for big bands is in good hands!!” --Dennis Mackrel, Drummer/Arranger
“This superior album should be treated as a major event within the big band firmament... This is a major work that will transcend any doubts one may have about contemporary big band writing and performance.” --John Killoch, Mainly Big Bands: www.btinternet.com
Watching her conduct her ABJO performing her own music is to witness joy in its purest form...a journey full of power, depth and imagination. --Dr. Judith Schlesinger, www.allaboutjazz.com
Wonderful. A beautifully evocative record! I love it. Gorgeous textures, color, and tones. --John Hammel, WNTI, 91.9 FM, Hackettstown, NJ
Willing to teach:
ANITA BROWN, Composer/Arranger/Educator
• Offering private study in my Nyack home or in your Westchester home. Clients in Scarsdale, Harrison and Rye Neck.
• Specializing in beginner to intermediate study for all ages on piano and several band instruments, providing strong foundations in reading, writing and playing music through motivational, age-appropriate activities.
• Also offering intermediate to advanced studies in jazz composition and arranging: melody writing, arranging for the jazz orchestra, developing the inspired idea.
Ms. Brown is available for guest lectures for music programs of all levels, including upper level High School Music Theory classes and College Jazz Programs.
Ms. Brown is available as a guest conductor for school jazz programs of all levels. Visit Anita www.anitabrownmusic.com/products for free pdf downloads outlining clinics and other educational products and services.
Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra is available for performances and clinics for your school, performing arts center or community organization.
Clinics for College Jazz Programs and Professional Conferences
- "Parameters & Options in Big Band Writing;" An analysis of her award-winning piece, 'The Lighthouse.'
- "The Creative Process;" Discussion of the detailed process of building an orchestrated work with regard to form, development of inspired material, orchestration, creating an organic structure with forward momentum.
Clinics for School Music Programs
- "What Does A Composer Do?
- "Let's Compose!"
- "The Composer Residency Project"
- "The Creative Process;" A motivational discussion for adolescents, relating to the value of finding one's bliss and building self-esteem.
--Stanley D. Hettinger.