Anita Brown is an award-winning composer, conductor and producer whose passion for music derives from being raised by parents who met while studying with renowned jazz pianist Lennie Tristano. During her early career as a music educator in school music programs she experienced an inevitable epiphany in 1995, launching her eight-year Fellowship in the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Under the tutelage of Manny Albam, Jim McNeely and Mike Abene she honed her skills and contributed regularly to monthly reading sessions of new music. During this time she established herself as a trusted producer, copyist and assistant for a number of arrangers in rehearsals, recording sessions and live events.
Recruited by Band President John Mosca as Band Copyist for The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra’s original charter as the 501(c)(3) Sixteen As One Music, she began restoring the deteriorating parts in Thad Jones’ hand while also serving as ink copyist to Don Sebesky, Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Manny Albam, McCoy Tyner, Jason Robert Brown, The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and others. She cultivated apprentice relationships with Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely and Manny Albam providing library, editing, rehearsal and score assistant services and worked for The Estate of Gil Evans cataloguing his works for appraisal. Her comprehensive work as Supervising Librarian for The Estate of Manny Albam to catalogue his life’s works was permanently archived in 2003 and is accessible at Rutgers Institute for Jazz Studies in Newark, NJ.
With experience in concert production both as a student and music educator Anita’s ability to envision and execute such tasks garnered her a number of roles in production of live and recorded events. Brown assisted with production for such acclaimed recordings as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra’s Lickety Split: The Music of Jim McNeely; Maria Schneider Orchestra’s Days of Wine And Roses: Live at The Jazz Standard and Allegresse; The Don Sebesky Orchestra’s John Pizzarelli Meets The Beatles, Rhythm Is My Business and Our Love Is Here To Stay; Loren Schoenberg’s Out Of This World and Dave Pietro’s Standard Wonder and Embrace, and assisted with live production facets of the memorial concerts for Grover Mitchell and John Stubblefield. She also boasts photography credits on Dave Pietro’s Standard Wonder, Sheila Jordan’s One for Junior and Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra: 27 EAST (2003).
Her credits as Executive Producer include the production of live performances of her original music in metropolitan New York since 1997 and of her debut CD, Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra: 27 EAST, the Birdland CD Release Party for Group Therapy: The Jim McNeely Tentet, the standing-room-only Memorial Concert for Manny Albam at Saint Peter’s Church, NYC, featuring The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra performing several titles by Mr. Albam under Anita’s baton with guest artists Jon Faddis, Jim Hall, Jerry Dodgion, Gerry Niewood, Frank Wess, Nancy Marano and Bob Brookmeyer as MC. In 2011 Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra premiered her large-scale five-movement, conceptual composition/performance art Stand: A Symphony for Jazz Orchestra featuring The USMC Silent Drill Platoon precision drill team of Washington, DC, to commemorate and depict the American experience of our National tragedy on 9/11 on its tenth anniversary. Anita continues to write and produce performances of original works. Her most recent pandemic-delayed performance was on August 26, 2021, premiering Hart Island Suite, her 2019 NYSCA Individual Artist Composer Commission, as part of JazzForumArts Sunset Jazz Series at The Lyndhurst Mansion, Tarrytown, NY. The piece honors her parents’ first and stillborn daughter who rests on Hart Island, NYC’s public cemetery (aka potters’ field), Bronx, NY, and extends its embrace to all one million souls who rest with her, including NYC’s unclaimed victims of COVID-19. Having composed the piece to lift her late mother’s long-held burden, Anita admitted “This was the hardest gig I’ve ever done,” following its premiere on her parents’ anniversary, just three months after her own brain surgery.
Brown was awarded a 2022 NYSCA Individual Artist Composer Commission as well as 2020 Project Grants from New Music USA, NYFA. Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra was cited among Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll’s Rising Star Big Bands. Anita has also been commissioned by The Count Basie, Jon Faddis and Westchester Jazz Orchestras, The Center for Jazz Composition, The Frank Wess Nonet, vocalists Nnenna Freelon, Judi Silvano, Mala Waldron, Roseanna Vitro, Bobby Short and has premiered original works with The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra under her baton.
Anita’s music has earned international acclaim, been honored with an ASCAP Award for New Big Band Music awarded by a panel of the renowned composers Bob Brookmeyer, Dave Douglas and John Clayton for The Lighthouse (2006), a Legislative Proclamation bestowed publicly by The Rockland County Legislature and a letter of recognition from The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps for Stand: A Symphony for Jazz Orchestra (2011). As a participant in American Composers Orchestras’ Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute: Intensive Workshops & Readings, Brown was invited to compose a new work for The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, premiering Disarming The Tempest in 2013.
As a Teaching Artist she has presented clinics and performances at the IAJE Annual Conference (2007), The New York Brass Conference (2005), New Jersey Music Educators Association Conference, USF Center for Jazz Composition, United States Military Academy at West Point and several colleges nationwide and has enjoyed working with university and professional ensembles as a guest conductor. She has also served as adjudicator for several New Jersey State Jazz Finals and USF’s Michael Brecker Arranger’s Competition. She has been a member of BMI as a composer/publisher since 1994 and a Fiscally Sponsored Artist with Fractured Atlas since 2011.
Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra has been performing in metropolitan New York since 2000 and was recently listed among Rising Star Big Bands in the DownBeat Critics Poll. Since its debut at NYC’s The Cutting Room, ABJO has performed at other metro area venues including Sweet Rhythm, Steinway Hall (W. 57th St), Dizzy Gillespie Auditorium at The Bahai Center, Cachaça, West Bank Café, Trumpets of Montclair, The Sheraton Ballroom for IAJE’s 2007 NYC Conference, The New York Brass Conference at SUNY Purchase, The Hudson House, Club 91, Nyack Jazz Week, Nyack Memorial Park, JazzForumArts Sunset Jazz Concert Series. As any big band leader knows, it takes a battalion of musicians to keep a large jazz ensemble performing. Over the years ABJOs chairs have welcomed such jazz luminaries as Gerry Niewood, Steve Wilson, Jay Brandford, Dave Pietro, Marc Phaneuf, Matt Hong, Ted Nash, Charlie Pillow, Andy Fusco, Jason Rigby, Tim Armacost, Andy Middleton, Ralph Lalama, Adam Kolker, Tom Christensen, Virginia Mayhew, Ed Xiques, Kenny Berger, Frank Basile, Roger Rosenberg, Jon Owens, Tony Kadleck, Nick Marchione, Dave Ballou, Bob Millikan, Frank Greene, John Eckert, Scott Wendholt, Marvin Stamm, John Bailey, Jami Dauber, Scott Harrell, Alex Norris, Evan Barker, Jim O’Connor, Theresa MacDonnell, Mark Patterson, Ed Neumeister, Bruce Eidem, Mike Christianson, Luis Bonilla, Joe Alessi, Matt Haviland, Nathan Durham, Jeff Nelson, George Flynn, Jennifer Wharton, Scott Thornton, Kenny Wessell, Pete McCann, Joel Harrison, Mike Holober, Jim Ridl, Roberta Picket, Henry Hey, David Budway, MaryAnn McSweeney, Cameron Brown, John Hebert, Jim Donica, Leo Huppert, Noriko Ueda, Tim Horner, Lee Finkelstein, Jon Wikan, Ray Marchica, Scott Neumann, Dennis Mackrel among others. Anita is grateful to have had the opportunity to present performances with all these marvelous players and to have featured guest artists including her father, Ted Brown, Frank Wess, vocalists Judy Niemack, Amy London, Louise Rogers, Haley Swindal Tantleff, Holly Castle, Nina Hennessey, Nicole Pasternack, USMC Gunnery Sgt. Jim Wallace and guitarist Jeanfrançois Prins.
Ms. Brown’s writings have been published in professional journals including AFM Local 802’s Allegro, JazzEd Magazine and The Brass Conference for Scholarship Magazine. She has served on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College, New Jersey City University, Concordia College, Bergen Community College, SUNY Purchase and is a member of the Teaching Artist Roster with ArtsWestchester in White Plains, NY.
“She has swallowed and legitimately incorporated her influences and sounds only like herself.”
--Larry Kart, Author of Jazz In Search of Itself
“Disarming charts... reveal myriad details of subtle wit and flexible spirit...using brass with the acumen and majesty of Johnny Richards...and wave-like riffs that break into Mingus-like backbeat.”
--Fred Bouchard, DownBeat Magazine
“I’ve known Anita for a long time and have been very interested in how she’s developed into an important writer.”
--Lee Konitz, NEA Jazz Master Saxophonist
“Beautiful chart. Wow! Very exciting. Keep writing!”
--Max Roach, NEA Jazz Master Drummer
“Anita’s charts blew me away!”
--Sheila Jordan, NEA Jazz Master Vocalist
“Anita is better than she thinks she is. I would like to help her in any way I can.”
--Bill Finegan, Composer/Arranger: The Sauter-Finegan Band
"[This] band is in the same category [as] the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and Maria Schneider Orchestra. [Anita's] compositions are marvelous tone poems...and the band brought them off beautifully. Serious, beautiful writing and a wonderful group..."
--Marvin Stamm, Trumpet Artist
“Brown [creates] dense, gorgeous palettes of sounds. Each piece is not just a 'riff, solo, solo, riff and close,' but a musical trip through the places, people and events that have meaning in her life.”
-- Curtis Davenport, Jazz Improv Magazine
“Anita Brown’s giftedness is channeled into her soulful music with strongly perceptible values... Carving out new growth paths...she smoothly weds substance with inspiration and passion, thus fashioning beautiful music. Anita Brown serves serious notice with her orchestra...[and] her unquestioned position of firm strength and resonant originality.”
-- Dr. Herb Wong, Jazz Education Journal
“This superior album [27 EAST] should be treated as a major event within the big band firmament... This is a major work that will transcend any doubts one may have about contemporary big band writing and performance.”
-- John Killoch, Mainly Big Bands
Broadway World says: https://www.broadwayworld.com/rockland/article/BWW-Previews-HART-ISLAND-SUITE-BY-ANITA-BROWN-at-Lyndhurst-Mansion-Tarrytown-20210818?fbclid=IwAR0ha3qJ8hnHW-oi-TEfnKfA0DIEH89fYHnDto5ZY6tvMxrJ8lcXlIaFK2k