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Jeff Fuller & Friends with Darren Litzie and Ben Bilello
November 20, 2015 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST$10.00
*** Radio interview Tues., 11/17 at 10 am with Chuck Obuchowski on WWUH 91.3 (89.9 Wallingford) – check it out! A few cuts from the new, unreleased CD! www.wwuh.org ***
Jeff Fuller & Friends features Jeff on acoustic bass along with Darren Litzie on piano, and Ben Bilello on drums. The three musicians are versatile and well-known performers in Connecticut’s jazz scene, and will perform music from their 2015 release, The Call From Within, a 14-song collection featuring Fuller’s original compositions, ranging from swing to bop to Brazilian. Several pieces from pianist Darren Litzie will also be featured.
Jeff Fuller: Jazz Bass
An integral part of the Connecticut, New York and international jazz scenes, Fuller toured worldwide and recorded with saxophonists Lou Donaldson and Paquito D’Rivera. He has played with jazz masters from all styles and eras including such diverse artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Mose Allison, “Papa” Jo Jones, Gerry Mulligan, and Clark Terry. Fuller is one of the most sought after jazz bassists in Connecticut, and currently leads his own ensembles in many jazz venues. In September, 2014, he was awarded the annual Jazz Haven Award, “For all you have done in presenting and preserving the culture and music of jazz.” Fuller plays the Upton Hawkes Hybrid double bass, and a Ken Smith 6-string bass guitar.
Fuller has wide experience in both Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music. He is co-leader of the popular trio, Sambeleza, which features singer Isabella Mendesand guitarist Joe Carter. He has toured with Paquito D’Rivera’s New York/Havana Quintet, the Hilton Ruiz Quintet, Daniel Ponce’s Jazzbatá and Orlando “Puntilla” Rios’ Nueva Generación. He composes and arranges for the top salsa group, Irazú, whose CDs have featured soloists Arturo Sandoval and Tata Güines. Fuller’s Latin big band and combo arrangements are frequently performed worldwide and published by 3-2 Music, the predominant distributor of written Latin jazz. His earlier Brazilian jazz group, Samba Brasil, was seven-time winner of the “Best Latin” category in the Hartford Advocate Reader’s Poll.
Always expanding his compositional repertoire and vocabulary, Fuller has received commissions from both the New Haven and the Hartford Symphony Orchestras and has twice received project grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. He has been the recipient of commissions from 3-2 Music, Florida International University and Meet The Composer. His String Quartet was recorded by the Haven String Quartet in 2012. His first CD of all original jazz music, The Call From Within, will be released in 2015. Fuller graduated cum-laud from Yale College and received his master’s degree in composition from the Yale School of Music. Since 1995, Fuller has taught composition and jazz theory, and is conductor/arranger for jazz ensembles at ACES
Pianist/Composer Darren Litzie has been performing throughout the tri-state area in a wide variety of settings for over ten years. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance Degree from Western Connecticut State University. He has studied with Peter Tomlinson, Dr. Rex Cadwallader, Jim McNeely, Mike Holober, Jimmy Greene, and Jamie Begian. Darren has performed with such artists as Dave Scott, Andrew Beals, Chris Morrison, Thierry Arpino, Dave Livolsi, Nick Biello, Harvie S, and Phil Palombi. Darren has also been the touring keyboardist for singer Andrew Strong of the band/1991 film The Commitments. Stops on the tours have included The Regatta Bar in Boston, B.B. King Blues Club in NYC, and Anthology in San Diego. An avid composer and arranger, Darren recently completed a three-year stint as a member of New York’s prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, where he had several of his works premiered in concert by the BMI Jazz Orchestra. Darren also currently leads his own eight-piece jazz ensemble, The Saxtet, for which he plays piano and composes music. The band performs regularly in Connecticut and New York.
As one of the most in demand freelance jazz drummers in New England, Ben Bilello can be seen at numerous clubs, concert halls and festivals with a wide variety of artists. Originally from Narragansett, Rhode Island, Ben began playing the snare drum in his elementary school band. As time passed, Ben became interested in learning the drum set, acquiring his first kit at age fourteen. His first significant exposure to jazz occurred around this time and he made the decision to study music at a formal conservatory. After graduating from Narragansett High School in 1995, Ben moved to West Hartford, Connecticut to begin college. In the autumn of 1995, Ben entered The Hartt School of Music as an eager freshman, majoring in jazz studies/African American music. The jazz students were under the watchful eye of master saxophonist Jackie McLean. Hartt afforded Ben numerous opportunities in the areas of performance and study. While at Hartt, Ben studied drums and percussion with Ben Toth, Tony Leone, and Michael Carvin. He also studied frame drum and riq with master percussionist Glen Velez. During his time at Hartt, Ben was frequently called upon to perform with students, faculty members, and guest artists. In 1997, Ben won the Hartt Award of Excellence in Jazz Studies, presented by Professor McLean. Ben graduated cum laude from Hartt in the spring of 1999 with a BM in Jazz Studies.
After graduating from Hartt, Ben began to establish himself as a noted performer and a much sought after private instructor. He has performed and recorded with Mulgrew Miller, Eddie Henderson, Joe Wilder, Curtis Fuller, Branford Marsalis, Anthony Braxton, Charles Flores, Javon Jackson, Steve Davis, Eddie Bert, Nat Reeves, Larry Willis, George Cables, Jimmy Greene, Shelton “Fatman” Laster, Wayne Escoffery and Dezron Douglas/New Jazz Workshop, among many others. In addition to performing with noted jazz musicians, Ben has toured with the South American folk groups Viva Quetzal and Markamusic. Currently residing in Durham, Connecticut, Ben is a self-employed private instructor and clinician. In addition to private instruction, Ben has taught classes and workshops at many local public and private schools, jazz camps and at several colleges and universities. At this time, Ben can be seen performing with his own trio, the Hartford Jazz Society’s New Directions Ensemble, the Jim Argiro Quintet, trumpeter Josh Evans, and bassist Jeff Fuller, as well as with many others.