Home » Events » Jaki Byard Symposium
Jaki Byard Symposium


Chet Williamson (Click bar below for description)

About Symposium Panelist
Reflecting his ability to play a wide variety of musical styles, 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 swing of Django Rheinhardt), 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. 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 A&E 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 bios, profiles and compositions of 100 local musicians. Released by Worcester Publishing Ltd., it is available at: worcestermag.com. He continues to write about Worcester's jazz history for the New England Jazz History Database. He may be heard on radio station WICN 90.5 Monday through Thursday on his show "Jazz Matinee".



Ran Blake (Click bar below for description)

About Symposium Panelist

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 (Click bar below for description)

About Symposium Panelist

(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 (Click bar below for description)

About Symposium Panelist

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).

Ken Schaphorst (Click bar below for description)

About Symposium Paelist

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.

Since coming to NEC as Chair of the Jazz Studies and Improvisation Department in 2001, Schaphorst has directed the Jazz Orchestra in its performance of new music and traditional big band repertoire. Schaphorst also works with high school–age students at NEC with the Youth Jazz Orchestra, which he founded in 2008.

A prolific composer and arranger, Schaphorst 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 (Click bar below for description)

About Symposium Panelist

After completing his studies at Boston University with a BS in Public Relations, 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 Meril and Allan Chase