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Jaki Byard Symposium


The Jazz History Database hosted a 2014 Symposium on Worcester’s favorite jazz progeny, Jaki Byard.
The full academic proceeding of the day is playable here, including some surprise appearances.

Chet Williamson

About Chet Williamson

Reflecting his ability to play a wide variety of musical styles, Chet Williamson has shared stages with many of the world's most popular and finest musicians, including Sleepy LaBeef, Alan Dawson and Joan Osborne. His jazz credits include gigs with Rich Greenblatt, Jack Pezanelli, Reggie Walley, Dick Odgren and Emil Haddad. Williamson's blues connections are just as deep and varied. As a teenager he played a weekly jam session in the Great Brook Valley Housing Projects. Since then he has performed with such notable players as Kenny Pino, Ken Vangel, Joanna Connor and Troy Gonyea. Williamson's chromatic harmonica styling can be heard on She's Busy's Strange Bedfellows, Valerie and Walter Crockett's Moonbone and Emily's Angel, Mike Duffy's Destined to be a Rumor, and the Movie Channel's station ID, "Try a Little TMC."

His own CD release, Chromatic Swing, features jump blues and standards from the Swing Era. In his review of the album, Scott McLennan from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette said, "Chromatic Swing is Williamson's voice coming through loud and clear. The disc is a cooking session of Swing era gems associated with the likes of Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Harry 'Sweets' Edison. It's a likable fusion of jazz and blues traditions made possible by a cast of strong and colorful players." In performance, Williamson is a dynamic performer who combines his love of blues and jazz into a mutual landscape of joyous sound. In addition to local gigs that range from Gilrein's to Mechanics Hall, he has performed throughout Central New England, parts of Canada and Europe. Williamson is currently maintaining three working ensembles, including, Chromatic Swing, A Herd of Cats (which showcases the pyrotechnics of bluegrass and bebop with the “gypsy jazz” of Django Reinhardt), and a duo with guitarist Steve Cancelli, a player of impeccable sound and taste. Hear him on the Monica Hatch CD, If You Never Come To Me. The duo features classic swing and indigo blues mixed with cool bossa novas, impressionistic ballads, originals, standards, and harmonica favorites.

Chet Williamson was also heard for years on Worcester radio station WICN hosting the show "Jazz Matinee".

The award-winning and critically acclaimed Williamson began his professional career in writing in 1988. As a freelance writer, Williamson has been featured in the Worcester Telegram, Worcester Monthly, North Shore Living, Artscope, JazzEd, and Blues Wire. Before taking the job as Arts & Entertainment Editor at Worcester Magazine in 1998, he had been a regular contributor to that publication since 1993. Over the years he has written about everything from art and entertainment to sports and politics. He lists Sonny Rollins, B.B. King, Laura Nyro and Waylon Jennings among his favorite interviews. Williamson is also the author of The Jazz Worcester Real Book, which features biographies, profiles and compositions of 100 local musicians. Released by Worcester Publishing Ltd., it is available at worcestermag.com.

Williamson has written for many years about Worcester's jazz history for the Jazz History Database. Williamson’s exhaustive biography of Jaki Byard has been published. Learn more about it here.



Ran Blake

About Ran Blake

In a career that now spans five decades, pianist Ran Blake has created a unique niche in improvised music as an artist and educator. Blake’s most significant mentor and champion was Gunther Schuller. The two began their forty-year friendship at a chance meeting at Atlantic Records’ New York studio in January 1959. Less than two years earlier, Schuller coined the term “Third Stream” at a lecture at Brandeis University. Blake’s long association with Schuller, modern classical music, and Schuller’s controversial term began here, and was forged by years of friendship, collaboration and innovation.
At the Lenox School of Jazz, Blake studied with Blake studied with the jazz giants who formed the faculty of this one-of-a-kind institution—John Lewis, Oscar Peterson, Bill Russo, and many others—and began formulating his style in earnest. He also studied in New York with piano legends Mary Lou Williams and Mal Waldron.

In 1973, Blake became the first Chair of the Third Stream Department, which he co-founded with Schuller at the school. He still holds this position—though the department was recently renamed the Contemporary Improvisation Department.

2012 marked Blake’s fifty years as a professional recording artist (with more than 40 recordings), making him one of most resilient artists in jazz history.


George Schuller

About George Schuller

George Schuller(drums, composer, arranger, producer), a native of New York City, moved to Boston in 1967 where he was raised and educated, and later received a bachelor's degree in Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music in 1982. For the next twelve years, Schuller was a fixture on the Boston area jazz scene performing with Herb Pomeroy, Jaki Byard, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Mick Goodrick, John Lockwood, Ran Blake, Lisa Thorson, Billy Pierce, Bruce Gertz, Mili Bermejo, John LaPorta, Dominique Eade and Hal Crook.George Schuller
In 1984, he co-founded the twelve-piece ensemble Orange Then Blue recording several acclaimed albums, including the 1999 release: Hold The Elevator: Live in Europe and Other Hauntson GM Recordings. Orange Then Blue toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Middle East and Europe during the 90s.
Over the last two decades, Schuller has also released several albums as a leader including his first CD entitled Lookin Up From Down Below (GM), and two releases with the Schulldogs, Tenor Tantrums (New World) and Hellbent (Playscape). Schuller has also released three recordings with Circle Wide including Round'bout Now (Playscape) featuring Ingrid Jensen, Like Before, Somewhat After (Playscape) featuring Donny McCaslin, and more recently Listen Both Ways (Playscape) featuring Peter Apfelbaum and Brad Shepik. Schuller has also recently embarked on a series of piano trio recordings with Trio This That (GM) featuring co-leader Barney McAll, and George Schuller Trio Life's Little Dramas (Fresh Sound/New Talent) featuring Dan Tepfer.
Since 2004, Schuller has also released several different and wide-ranging recordings showcasing his diverse interests in many styles of improvisatory approaches including JigSaw (482 Music) featuring an all-star cast of New York improvisers (Tony Malaby, Mark Feldman, Dave Ballou), and the collective bands of Conference Call (482, Cleanfeed, Nottwo) and Free Range Rat (Cleanfeed).
In 1995 Schuller appeared on Joe Lovano's critically acclaimed album Rush Hour (Blue Note) with compositions and arrangements by Gunther Schuller. It was voted "Album of the Year" by Down Beat magazine. In addition, Schuller has performed and/or recorded with many of today's leading musicians including Lee Konitz, Mose Allison, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nnenna Freelon, Ran Blake, Fred Hersch, Armen Donelian, Burton Greene, Tom Varner, Mark Helias, Joe Fonda, Dave Douglas, Herb Robertson, Drew Gress, Michael Jefry Stevens, Peter Yarrow, Liberty Ellman, Gebhard Ullmann, J Geils, Myra Melford, and The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.
Schuller has found himself on the other side of the glass producing several albums by Orange Then Blue, Luciana Souza, Ed Schuller, Joel Harrison, Jazz Composers Alliance, Ballin' The Jack, Mili Bermejo, Free Range Rat, Michael Musillami and Lisa Thorson. His compositions and arrangements have been recorded by Ran Blake, Burton Greene, Conference Call, Orange Then Blue, Ed Schuller, Carlo Morena, Mike Metheny, Ballin' The Jack, Your Neighborhood Sax Quartet, Trio This, Wilder/Woodman/LaPorta Sextet, Mili Bermejo and Lisa Thorson.
Major appearances with various bands have included US festivals in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Rochester, Ravinia, Sedonna, Discover, Sandpoint, and Lake George along with Canadian festivals in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, Guelph, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Rimouski and Saskatoon as well as European festivals such as Berlin, Bolzano, Braga, Bergen, Northsea, Ost-West, Zagreb, Karava, Stavinger, AMR in Geneva, and many others. He has received several composition awards including a Massachusetts Artist Foundation Fellowship for Music Composition (1987), NEA Composition Grant (1995) as well as The Julius Hemphill Composition Award (2000).
Schuller presently resides in Brooklyn (since 1994) where he freelances in the New York City area performing with Ballin' The Jack, Michael Musillami, Burton Greene, Armen Donelian, Morena/Fonda Trio, Seunghee Han, Whirrr! (Music of Jimmy Giuffre), Russ Johnson's Out To Lunch (Music of Eric Dolphy), Yard Byard (Music of Jaki Byard) and Conference Call in addition to leading his own groups Circle Wide and George Schuller Trio.

Jerome Harris and Jamie Baum

About Jerome Harris

Jerome Harris has won international recognition as one of the more versatile and penetrating stylists of his generation on both guitar and bass guitar.
Jerome's first major professional performances were as bass guitarist with Sonny Rollins in 1978; from 1988 to 1994 he was Rollins' guitarist, and appears on five of his recordings. Over the past two decades, Jerome has also recorded and/or performed live on six continents with such jazz notables as Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Ray Anderson, Don Byron, Bobby Previte, Oliver Lake, Amina Claudine Myers, Bob Stewart, George Russell, Julius Hemphill, and Bob Moses.

His extensive international work has included several stints in Japan with Sonny Rollins, as well as tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
Jerome Harris has appeared on more than fifty recordings, making for a lengthy and wide-ranging discography. His most recent CD as a leader is Rendezvous--the first-ever jazz release by the audio connoisseur magazine Stereophile.

Harris conceived and organized "Living Time": George Russell's Musical Life and Legacy, an in-depth examination of the work and life of legendary composer/bandleader/theorist/educator George Russell.

Harris's scholarly interests have led to an essay, "Jazz on the Global Stage," published in the anthology The African Diaspora: A Musical Perspective, edited by Ingrid Monson (Garland).

About Jamie Baum

NYC flutist, composer, Sunnyside Records artist, producer and clinician, Jamie Baum, has toured the US and over 35 countries performing at major festivals, clubs and concert halls.

Though focusing primarily on jazz, she has been involved in several projects, performances and tours performing classical, new music, Brazilian and Latin music. Receiving critical praise for six CD’s as a leader, with most making several “Best CDs of the Year” lists and four stars from DownBeat, feature artists including Dave Douglas, Kenny Werner, Ralph Alessi, George Colligan, Amir El-Saffar, and John Escreet. Inch by Inch (GM Recordings), by the cooperative band Yard Byard: The Jaki Byard Project (w/Jerome Harris, George Schuller), also received four stars from DownBeat. Jamie has appeared on over 30 recordings as sidewoman including those by Dave Binney, George Colligan, Ursel Schlicht, Frank Carlberg, Patrizia Scascitelli, Taylor Haskins, Monika Herzig, Louise Rogers, Sarah McKenzie, Steve Lampert, Brian Landrus, Laura Andel, Judi Silvano, Shigeko Suzuki, James Hall, etc.

Ms. Baum’s many awards and grants for composing include: 2020 International Society of Jazz Arrangers & Composers (ISJAC) Covid Relief Commission, Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2020, 2020 Chamber Music America Jazz Presenter Consortium, 2018 USArtists International, 2017 New Music USA Project Grant, and a 2014 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Baum was selected as a 2014–15 Norman Stevens Fellow/MacDowell resident and since awarded residencies at UCross (2015) and VCCA (2020). She won the ’99 International Jazz Composers Alliance Award, 2010 CAP Award (American Music Center), the 2003 New Works: Creation and Presentation Award and the 2007 Encore Award, both components of the Doris Duke/CMA Jazz Ensembles Project.

Ms. Baum has been in the DownBeat critics polls annually since 1998, making #1 “Rising Star Flutist” in ’12, #2 “Flutist” in ’19 and #3 “Flutist” in ’20. She was named a “Major New International Talent” in 2015 lists by both Musica Jazz and Jazzit (Italy), was #2 “Flutist of the Year” in the 2018 Eleventh Annual International Critics Poll and tied 4th place with Hubert Laws in the 2018 JazzTimes critics poll. Jamie was included in Huffington Post’s “Twenty-five Great Jazz Flute Performances”, nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association for “Flutist of the Year” eleven times, and The Jamie Baum Septet+ was nominated in 2014 “Best Midsize Ensemble” – in the same list with only two other bands -The Wayne Shorter Quartet and Steve Coleman’s Five Elements!

Media attention for her recent CD, Bridges, and previously released, In This Life, brought features on WBGO’s RADAR and NPR’s All Things Considered, reviews in The New York Times, DownBeat, JazzTimes, All About Jazz, etc.. and two hour-long feature/retrospectives on major German and Czech public radio shows. Bridges was voted #4 in the 2018 JazzTimes Readers Poll for “Best New Release,” and In This Life was in “Best CDs of 2013” lists including Boston Globe, ITunes, and Francis Davis’ NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll. Recently, Baum was included in the JazzTimes 10: Essential Jazz Flute Albums (2019), “3 Questions for Today’s Jazz Musicians” by Lilian Dericq, Cricket Publishers (Paris), the “Woodshed” in DownBeat, January 2019, and was the flutist on The Essence of the Blues — Flute: 10 Great Etudes for Playing and Improvising, Book & CD, (Jim Snidero “play-along” series, 2019).

Through a highly competitive auditioning process, Jamie was chosen to tour for the DOS/Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador program from ’99 -’03 in South America and South Asia. The US State Department also sponsored later shorter tours, in addition to several isolated US Embassy-sponsored programs while Baum was on her own tours in Europe and South Asia. Baum’s two main active projects featuring her compositions include The Jamie Baum Septet+, together since 1999, and her Short Stories band marking five years by performing at the 2020 Winter Jazzfest. In addition, she co-leads Yard Byard: The Jaki Byard Project and is involved in several other projects either as co-leader or side-woman, including The Richie Beirach/Jamie Baum Duo and NYC Jazz Flutes.

Ms. Baum has been on the faculty of the jazz department at Manhattan School of Music since 2006, on the adjunct faculty roster at the New School University since 2004 and taught at Berklee College of Music (2011–13). Summer jazz programs Baum has taught composition, improv, flute technique and coached ensembles at include the Stanford Jazz Workshop Institute, Litchfield Jazz Camp, Maryland Jazz Camp, etc. A clinician for Altus Flutes/KHS America since 1993, they have sponsored her innovative, pioneering workshop “A Fear Free Approach to Improvisation for the Classically-Trained Musician”TM and “Flute Technique for Doublers” at colleges, conservatories, festivals, flute clubs and “music and art” schools worldwide.

Ken Schaphorst

About Ken Schaphorst

A founding member of the Boston-based Jazz Composers Alliance, an organization in the tradition of jazz composer-directed ensembles dedicated to the promotion of new music in the jazz idiom, trumpeter and composer
Ken Schaphorst has been awarded Composition Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and Meet the Composer.

Created in 1989, the Ken Schaphorst Big Band has featured many of today’s most notable young performers, including John Medeski, Uri Caine, Brad Shepik, Drew Gress, Donny McCaslin and Seamus Blake. Schaphorst has released seven recordings as a leader: Ken Schaphorst Big Band: Making Lunch (1989), Ken Schaphorst Big Band: After Blue (1991), Ken Schaphorst Ensemble: When the Moon Jumps (1994), Ken Schaphorst: Over the Rainbow (1997), Ken Schaphorst Big Band: Purple (1999), Ken Schaphorst: Indigenous Technology (2002) and Ken Schaphorst Big Band: How to Say Goodbye (2016).

Since coming to NEC as chair of the Jazz Studies department in 2001, Schaphorst has directed the Jazz Orchestra in its performance of new music and traditional big band repertoire. In recent years, the ensemble has performed under the direction of guest artists Django Bates, Jimmy Heath, John Hollenbeck, Jim McNeely and Maria Schneider. Named Best College Big Band in the 2004 Downbeat Student Music Awards, the ensemble has won critical acclaim for its recordings and for its performances throughout the country. Schaphorst also founded NEC's Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2008, one of NEC Prep's offerings for high school students.

Schaphorst’s three-movement Concerto for John Medeski, composed for his friend and fellow NEC alumnus, was commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received commissions from the NEA, Marimolin, Orange Then Blue, Boston University, Lawrence University, the Fox Valley Arts Alliance, the Jazz Composers Alliance, the Wisconsin Arts Board, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Ball State University, and Augustana College.

NEC Jazz Orchestra



John A. Sergenian

About John A. Sergenian

After completing his studies at Boston University with a BS in Public Relations, John A. Sergenian graduated from New York University with a MA in Political Geography.
From 1972-1976 he served on the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research, Department of Anthropology.  John spent 14 months doing anthropological fieldwork in Mexico (1975-1976)

Work Experience
2002-2008       Owner, Director of Briarcliff Music & Related Arts, Inc.
                               &  The Yoga Center Inc.
                         515 North State Rd., Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
2005 - 2006     Received grant and implemented program, Yoga for Musicians for 
             Secondary School Music Teachers and Students.  Handbook for Teachers
2004 - present - Director,   Westchester Jazz Workshop, Inc.
           (a not for profit arts organization)
1967-1993   Byram Hills Central Schools, Armonk, NY  = Teacher of Anthropology
          and History   (retired in 1993)
          Certified in Secondary Social Studies in New York and Massachusetts
1963-1967   Teacher of History - Westford, MA, Public Schools     
Some favorite playing experiences: Jaki Byard Big Band, Rudy Black, 
           Buell Neidlinger, Mark Levine, Ted Blumenthatl Big Band
Studied with:  Jaki Byard, Rudy Black, Frank Foster, Ali Ryerson


Bob Merrill and Allan Chase

About Bob Merrill

Bob Merrill is noted for his engaging vocal style, combined with great talent as a Jazz trumpeter, pianist, arranger and bandleader. His music has been heard around the world – at clubs and in concerts, in films and on television, and on recordings as a leader and sideman.

Born and raised in Manhattan, he studied with Red Rodney as a teenager. While in college, Bob led the Harvard Jazz Band, performing regularly around New England and touring with them overseas. While earning his degree in music at Harvard, he also attended New England Conservatory, studying and performing with legendary pianist Jaki Byard and his Apollo Stompers Big Band. In 1981 Bob became a teaching fellow for Harvard’s Seminars in Jazz course and founded the Jazz at the Pudding concert series at the famed Hasty Pudding Club, fronting the house band and presenting many prominent Jazz artists, among them Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Al Hibbler, Sheila Jordan and Archie Shepp.

In 1986, Merrill returned to New York where he opened Hip Pocket Studios, a 48-track recording facility specializing in music for commercials and host for recordings by artists such as Patti LaBelle, Sting, Art Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary as well as television clients including The Cosby Show on NBC. He produced three CDs for his father-in-law, legendary pianist and composer Joe Bushkin, for whom he served as trumpeter, musical director and arranger. Together they appeared at New York’s Tavern on the Green and The Supper Club, L.A.’s Jazz Bakery, in addition to engagements in Las Vegas, Palm Springs and Jazz festivals around the country.

In 1997, Bob released his first album as a leader, Catch as Catch Can, and he was featured on the American Movie Classics channel leading the AMC Orchestra in the television series Gotta Dance! Bob’ second CD, Got A Bran’ New Suit, featuring Bill Charlap and an all-star lineup was released in 2005. He has appeared in concerts with Peter Nero and the Philadelphia Pops, as well as the Nassau Pops, and the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall. His third album, Christmastime at the Adirondack Grill, has become a Yuletide season favorite.

Cheerin’ Up The Universe, Bob Merrill’s fourth album, was released by Accurate Records in 2015. The album is an eclectic mix of modern popular classics with Jazz interpretations featuring many notable musicians such as John Medeski on piano, Drew Zingg on guitar, Nicki Parrott on bass and vocals plus George Schuller on drums. Trombonist Roswell Rudd and saxophonists Harry Allen and Russ Gershon also appear, along with pianist Matthew Fries.

In 2017, Bob released Tell Me Your Troubles: Songs of Joe Bushkin, Vol. 1, the first installment of a two-volume celebration and exploration of the works of the legendary pianist and composer, featuring a dazzling array of guest artists including Bucky Pizzarelli, Kathryn Crosby, Nicki Parrott, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Comstock, as well as the final recording of Bushkin himself accompanying Bob on his classic “Oh! Look at Me Now.”

In 2020, Bob joined the on-air host lineup at Legends Radio WLML 100.3 FM in Palm Beach County, bringing his musical knowledge and gifts as an engaging raconteur to the airwaves, curating the best of the Great American Songbook weeknights from 8–10pm on his show Legends After Dark.

Bob Merrill’s charismatic musical style has been hailed by critics and his band never fails to get a crowd on its feet.

About Allan Chase

Allan Chase is a jazz saxophonist, composer, and college educator. He has performed jazz and improvised music since 1974 with his own groups and as a member of the Lewis Nash—Allan Chase Duo (1979–80), Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet (1981–present), Prima Materia with Rashied Ali (1992–2000), the Steve Lantner Quartet with Joe Morris and Luther Gray (2002-present), the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra, the Bruno Råberg Quartet, Ra Kalam Bob Moses, and many other groups. He appears as a soloist on over sixty jazz and improvised music recordings, a few rock and classical recordings, and several movie scores. He has released two CDs as a leader, Dark Clouds with Silver Linings (with Ron Horton, Tony Scherr, and Matt Wilson) and Phoenix (with Ron Horton, Adam Kolker, David Finck, and Lewis Nash).

From 2008 to 2021, Chase chaired the Ear Training department at Berklee College of Music, where he continues to teach ear training, harmony, and jazz history and analysis, and works with the students of the Global Jazz Institute. He has taught a wide range of college courses, ensembles, and lessons in jazz and improvised music since 1981.

He has taught at Berklee’s Valencia (Spain) Summer Performance Program in July of 2014–18, and was director of the Interlochen Summer Jazz program in 2019.