WBUR Folio: The New Voice In Boston Jazz
September 1, 1988
It's a familiar story: a few Boston-area college students get together, form a band, and work the city's club circuit, hoping to become recording stars someday. For most outfits, however, someday never comes. All too often, bands can't earn enough money to commit fully to a career in music, or they simply can't establish themselves among the many bands competing for a local following.
One band that is surviving, in fact succeeding, however, is the New Voice Jazz Sextet. The band is comprised of Berklee College and New England Conservatory students: Dmitri Matheny, trumpet/flugelhorn; Mark Gross, alto saxophone; Jack Wright, tenor saxophone; Mitch Hampton, piano; Peter Herbert, bass; and Hans Schuman, drums. They got together in 1985 to explore all styles of jazz, from the classic — Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, John Coltrane, Horace Silver, and Eric Dolphy — to the contemporary, spotlighting composers such as Ken Pullig, head of Jazz Composition at Berklee. The New Voice boasts a repertoire of more than 100 charts, including original material and classic works by Benny Golson, Charles Mingus and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
The band performs frequently at the Willow Jazz Club in Somerville and at Ryles in Cambridge. The band also plays at area festivals, schools and concert halls, and showcased its wide range of styles at WBUR's First Annual Salute to Beer, in August 1987.
"We have really enjoyed our association with WBUR," Matheny told Folio recently. "The beer tasting was great fun, and Tony Cennamo is one-of-a-kind. We're looking forward to more experiences with the station."
Just barely into their twenties, the band members are nonetheless well-established musicians in their own rights. Dmitri Matheny, for example, has performed with acts as varied as the Temptations and Martha Reeves to Sam Rivers. "We are a band — a real one," insists Matheny. "When you come to see us, you won't witness a jazz mession of pick-up musicians. We rehearse, write a lot of our own material, and plan our performances. This is all too rare today."
Matheny and company have been heralded throughout New England for their spirited performances. One of the most fulfilling, says Matheny, was a benefit in 1986 for the Greater Boston Diabetes Society. The concert was dedicated to Julian Adderley and other individuals who have succumbed to the ravages of diabetes.
This performance helped to bring the band national recognition and exposure. Last year the band was invited to the Musicfest U.S.A. in Chicago, and was recently spotlighted in Downbeat magazine, which hailed Matheny as "a talent deserving of wide recognition."
While the band's horizons are expanding, its roots are still planted firmly in Boston. To find out where you can see the New Voice Jazz Sextet in the Boston area, write: Dmitri Matheny, New Voice Productions, P.O. Box 544, Kenmore Station, Boston, MA 02215.