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Philadelphia Composer/Trumpeter John Vanore and Abstract Truth to perform at Widener

Abstract Truth, John Vanore, Widener Recital Series

John Vanore, an artist in residence, will perform with his band Abstract Truth in the Widener University Recital Series on March 18.

Chester, Pa. – Acclaimed composer and trumpeter John Vanore, an artist in residence at Widener, will perform with his band Abstract Truth on Sunday, March 18 in the Widener University Recital Series. This is the second of three concerts in the series.

Tickets are free, but reservations are encouraged. To reserve your spot, email and include the concert date in the subject line.

The performance starts at 3 p.m. and will take place in Kapelski Learning Center Recital Hall, located on the on the corner of E. 14th and Walnut streets in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Joining Vanore for this concert are Michael Mee and Bob Howell on saxophone; Kevin Rodgers, Sean McAnally, Marcell Bellinger and Paul Geiss on trumpet; George Barnett and Lyndsie Wilson on French horn; Sean McCusker and Frank Rein on trombone; Greg Kessinger on guitar, Craig Thomas on bass and Austin Wagner on drums.

A Woody Herman alumnus, Vanore has been a mainstay in the trumpet section for performers visiting Philadelphia.

He has recorded and produced for EMI, Wyndham Mill, and Miramax, in addition to receiving a Gold Record for his work with Atlantic. Vanore has a strong place in his heart for the power and energy that is part of being a big band, while his passion for improvising draws him to the intimacy and interplay of the small group. Composition and the development of a personal soloist identity remain the driving force in Vanore's writing and playing. With that in mind he created Abstract Truth, based on the concept of a small group with the firepower of a big band.

Abstract Truth is a leader in the movement to redefine the jazz big band. In this uniquely instrumented group that draws on but is not limited by big band traditions, the soloist is prominent. The ensemble features a jazz small group including two saxophones, and four trumpets, two trombones, and French horn. Orchestrations range from intimate groupings to the full explosive power of the brass.

Vanore's interest in big band, improvisation and his strong connection to the music of Oliver Nelson inform all his work, including Abstract Truth. In August 2017, Vanore released the critically acclaimed "Stolen Moments: Celebrating Oliver Nelson," the first large ensemble recording of Nelson's music seen in decades. For Vanore, the album is deeply personal.

Nelson played a pivotal role in determining the bandleader's path in life. "I'd never heard anything like that," Vanore recalled, obviously still dazzled almost 50 years later. "It was just unbelievable. It was that kind of moment where you're just taken by everything about it. His writing was never bombastic big band writing; there was so much more content, and that touched all my buttons as an analytical thinker. That was the turning point for me."

Though Nelson was only 43 years old when he passed away suddenly in 1975, he left behind a body of work that is staggering in its breadth and depth. More than 40 years later, his influence as a composer and arranger is still felt, though Nelson's name isn't mentioned as often as his innovations might merit.

Named for Nelson's best-known composition, the album revisits nine pieces that were either composed or arranged by Nelson over the course of his prolific career. Not even the most iconic jazz artists can boast such a wide-ranging resume: Nelson is revered for his work with jazz greats like Thelonious Monk, Count Basie, Clary Terry, and Jimmy Smith; his own classic albums, The Blues and the Abstract Truth (1961) and Afro/American Sketches (1962); as well as soundtrack work for TV (The Six Million Dollar Man, Columbo) and movies (Alfie, Last Tango in Paris).

"Oliver Nelson must be revered as one of the major jazz composers," Vanore said. "My charge was to reimagine and arrange for a unique ensemble in the spirit of Oliver, and invigorate the repertoire."

The Widener University Recital Series, now in its second season, brings world-renowned musicians to both Widener students and the community. The March 18 performance kicks off Honors Week 2018, a tradition that celebrates the academic excellence of Widener undergraduates.

The final performance in the series will feature the Jim Ridl Group on Sunday, April 14.

For more information, contact the Music Department at 610-499-4339 or visit

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,