The Faculty Jazz Sextet will perform a free public concert on Wednesday, July 27, at 7 p.m. as part of the Academy Library’s Summer Concert Series. Featuring Chris Humphrey on vocals, David Seiler on woodwinds, Charlie Jennison on saxophone, Ryan Parker on piano, Mark Carlsen on bass and Les Harris, Jr. on drums, the sextet will perform a program of jazz standards.
Humphrey is an improviser and composer as well as an interpreter of song. He is a veteran jazz singer, having worked with Denon recording artists The Ritz and vocal jazz quintet Vocalease. With The Ritz, he recorded the CD Almost Blue, which featured his singing, composing, and arranging work. As a soloist, Mr. Humphrey has been dubbed an “outstanding talent” (Sheila Jordan) and “a creative force” (Roberta Davis) by critics and performers who have heard his work. He has performed at Blue Note Jazz Clubs in New York, Tokyo, Jakarta, and Fukuoka, Japan. He has also appeared at numerous jazz festivals throughout the United States and abroad.
A native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Seiler received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a Master’s Degree in clarinet performance from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a founding member of both the University of Idaho and the University of New Hampshire Faculty Woodwind Quintets and has had an extensive career as a guest soloist at high schools, universities, and at jazz clubs and in concerts in the Boston area. Here on the Seacoast, he is well known as the moving force behind the Monday night Traditional Jazz Series at UNH and the annual Tommy Gallant Jazz Festival in Portsmouth’s Prescott Park, as well as for his leadership of the Seacoast Big Band. He is co-founder, along with colleague Robert Spevacek, of the University of Idaho-Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and is co-coordinator of the UNH Traditional Jazz Series and the UNH-Clark Terry Jazz Festival which he founded in 1974. Seiler was also coordinator of the UNH Summer Youth Music School for twelve years and is still active in the program.
Multi-instrumentalist Jennison began his jazz career in 1961, playing at rotary clubs and other local functions while still in junior high school. While attending UNH, he formed a jazz combo, graduating in 1961 with a degree in music education. The defining moment in his career came early when he met pianist Tommy Gallant, a teacher at Berklee and an alumnus of Woody Herman’s band. Jennison performed with Gallant for more than 30 years; and he shared the stage and recording studio with such jazz greats as Alan Dawson, Buddy DeFranco, Dizzy Gillespie and Marshal Royal. He has performed on several albums including as backing for vocalists Kathleen Kolman and Leila Percy, as well as with the New Age music group Do’ah, and Terry. In 1999, Jennison released his first album for Maine’s Invisible Music label, titled Iridescence, which features his tenor and soprano saxophone skills. Jennison teaches saxophone at PEA.
Carlsen began his musical training playing clarinet in the high school band, in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. A few years later, he traded in his clarinet for bass guitar. Throughout those early years, Carlsen performed in local Top 40 bands. In 1977, he began attending Berklee College of Music, where he took up the double bass. In 1981, Carlsen started playing with the Tommy Dorsey Band, performing throughout the U.S., Canada, South America and Japan. He has also performed with the Ryles Jazz Orchestra, Bobby Shew and Arturo Sandoval. Carlsen has performed with many jazz legends including Calloway, Vic Damone, Herb Pomeroy, Jim Porcella, Phil Wilson and Jimmy Witherspoon. Carlsen teaches bass at PEA.
Parker is a pianist, recording artist, and educator and lives in Somersworth, N.H. He performs regularly as a leader and sideman in the New England area with such artists as Gray Sargent, Les Harris, Jr., Herb Pomeroy, and Dick Johnson. Parker received his Master’s degree from New England Conservatory and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire. He continues to perform and record actively, most notably at the Press Room in Portsmouth. In 2001 he was featured in an interview on the New Hampshire Public Radio program, “The Front Porch”, which recognized him for becoming the youngest recipient of an Artists Grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.
Harris, Jr. is a 1983 graduate of Berklee. He is a member of the music faculty at UNH, the University of Southern Maine, PEA, and the Amesbury Public Schools district — teaching drums and ensembles. Harris began playing the drums at a young age under the tutelage of his father, retired Berklee professor and jazz drummer Les Harris, Sr. He has been a stand-in performer with jazz greats John LaPorta, Dave McKenna and Herb Pomeroy. From 1983–95, Harris performed with the jazz vocal group The Ritz. He has also toured and performed with the Artie Shaw Orchestra; the Diana Krall Trio, at the Boston Harbor Hotel; the Jim Howe Trio, which is named for the late bassist; and the Tommy Gallant Trio. Over the years, Harris has also played with jazz greats Milt Jackson, Terry and Phil Woods. Harris teaches drums at PEA.