Bertram Lehmann

Assistant Professor
617 747-8292

"What I have come to understand over the years is that while jazz is now a global phenomenon, there are more ethnic styles that haven't reached its level of global dispersion, like Cuban folkloric genres. The learning processes associated with these are more tied to their cultural settings. This means you have to hang out more with the people who come from there to learn what standards they hold themselves to. It takes time, but in this day and age with all our instructional resources, one has the chance to understand these styles to a greater degree."

"Knowing the function of percussion in different stylistic contexts and traditions is very important, as is an awareness of the instruments and what they can do. And when you decide on doing something, you need to be able to do that with consistency in sound and expression. Consistency in sound production is what builds trust."

"It's not enough to learn a drum pattern. You also need to know how the pattern works within the context of the music at large: how to pace yourself, how to balance the voices you're creating in your pattern, how to relate to the melody, and how to come in at the right point. I've been fortunate enough to have had a chance to play original music with people from Turkey and other countries, to get an idea of the sound and aesthetics associated with these styles. That's what I'm trying to transmit to students."

"In any style of music, I've always found an element that really captures me. For example, Cuban music, especially rumba, is very contrapuntal—very African in its interplay of percussion and voice. I would compare the beauty and complexity and depth of its counterpoint to a Bach fugue. Likewise, the aesthetic of the singing style of Turkish music is very deep. Yet the percussion has a completely different energy level and aesthetic than in Cuban music."

"I'd like students to be open to appreciating all these different styles for their innate qualities. And you can always tell from the eyes of students when they are finding their own connections in the music I play for them in a world music class. That's the beautiful thing about music: that we can look at these different traditions and their evolutions, see what qualities they have, and from that draw our very own personal inspiration. In this sense, jazz to me is like a great petri dish—you can inject different things that may connect very well on a certain level."

Career Highlights

 

  • B.M., Performance, Berklee College of Music
  • M.A., Ethnomusicology, Tufts University
  • Conducted clinics/workshops at the University of Bremen, Fundacio L'Aula de Musica, Longy School of Music, Harvard University, Young Audiences of Massachusetts, Princeton University, Wellesley College, Oberlin College, the University of New Hampshire, Moscow Conservatory, and the 'Centro Cultural' de Quito
  • Adjunct faculty at Phillips Academy
  • Over 20 CD recordings, as well appearances on the PBS TV documentary soundtrack Race: The Power of an Illusion, and WGBH feature Mango Blue: Live at La Plaza
  • Performances with Dave Samuels's Caribbean Jazz Project, Paquito D'Rivera, Dave Fiuczynski, the Fringe, Romero Lubambo, Danilo Perez, Claudio Roditi, and Kenny Werner
  • Current or former member of DUNYA, the Luciana Souza Quintet, Mango Blue, the Mili Bermejo Group, Natraj, the Osmany Paredes Group, the Tony Perez Quartet, and Katie Viqueira and Tierra Tango
  • Winner of JAZZIZ magazine’s 1996 Percussionists on Fire competition for original composition and performance
  • Toured internationally in Bermuda, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, India, Israel, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Spain, and Turkey
  • Appearances have included such venues as Lincoln Center, Boston Symphony Hall, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and the Kennedy Center
  • Aquarian drumheads endorser