The Convergence Project is Eugene Uman’s vehicle to present his original compositions and music that has influenced him. Core members are Michael Zsoldos, saxophones; Jeff Galindo, trombone; Uman, piano; David Picchi, bass (electric and acoustic) and Jon Fisher on drums.
After spending several years in Colombia, South America, Eugene Uman (Director of the Vermont Jazz Center) found a niche blending the rhythms of Colombia such as cumbia, bambuco and pasillo with jazz harmonies. While living in Antioquia, Uman was commissioned by the Big Band of Medellín to write for their 20-piece orchestra. He composed Blues para Urabá, a tribute to the strength of the common people of Urabá who were at that time in the midst of a civil war. The rousing climax of that composition used a rhythm from the Atlantic coast called currulao. After that powerful experience, Uman continued to investigate the rhythms and forms of the music of his newly adopted homeland, internalizing a small handful of the immense and richly varied catalog of Colombian rhythms.
Uman continues to visit Latin America; his relationship to Colombia, its people and highly developed art and music will never be shaken. Still, his focus (and the repertoire of the Convergence Project) has morphed into a personalized amalgam of jazz-influenced styles. It continues to reference Colombian rhythms but has evolved to give a greater voice to Uman’s love of vocal jazz, bebop, rock, gospel and funk roots. He states: “the music that I compose is a reflection of my accumulated experiences. It is affected by what I am currently paying attention to but is also strongly influenced by the listening and performing experiences of my formative years in rock, jazz, classical contexts. But probably most importantly, my writing has recently been impacted by my observations of the natural and political worlds: emotional upheavals, current events, the sounds of where I have live and visit and what I am currently studying.”Uman states “the syntax and language I use is primarily informed by my jazz training and by observing and analyzing other musician, it is also informed by my love of Latin music, especially rhythms from Colombia. The “convergence” of options from rock to jazz to Colombian-influenced flavors offesr me and my band mates opportunities to riff off of given frameworks and take each composition in new and exciting directions.”
For the core of the Convergence Project, Uman sought out musicians who bring a youthful, strong voice to his compositions. He found this in bassst Dave Picchi and drummer Jon Fisher, two friends and professional associates he has known since they were both in college (the three met while Uman was teaching at UMass, Amherst in the early 2000s). These two players studied and adapted Colombian rhythms into their own vocabularies and then added to them infusing it with their own personal strengths including a deep and powerful funk groove laid over a natural hookup cultivated from years of playing bass and drums together in numerous groups. Picchi and Fisher join veteran Convergence Project members, saxophonist Michael Zsoldos and trombonist Jeff Galindo. Together the completed ensemble offers a new twist to the interpretation of Uman’s energetic repertoire and opens doors leading to the creation of new compositions with limitless possibilities. Each member brings their own highly developed personal approaches to Uman’s music, uplifting it with original lines, hard driving grooves, attention to dynamics, acute listening skills and a group commitment to giving the music shape and substance.