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Justin Varnes

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Justin Varnes began studying music at 10 – on the trumpet. His father – an avid jazz listener – exposed him to Stan Kenton, Nat “King” Cole, and Erroll Garner. After attending Douglas Anderson School of the Arts on trumpet, Justin studied drum set with Ray Charles alumnus Rick Kirkland. Then he studied music at the University of North Florida under Charlotte Mabrey, Bill Prince, and Bunky Green while continuing to take privately from Rick Kirkland. After graduating with degrees in jazz studies and percussion, Justin relocated to New York City where he continued to study at the New School and study privately with Jojo Mayer

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Article: Catching Up With

Claire Cowan: Jazz in Ballet

Read "Claire Cowan: Jazz in Ballet" reviewed by Martin McFie


Composer Claire Cowan has been writing film scores since 2007. She branched out from her film work to accept a commission from the Royal New Zealand Ballet company, producing a completely new score for the Brothers Grimm fairy tale “Hansel and Gretel." An old lady living in the woods who fattens up children with gingerbread to ...

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Article: Live Review

Boléro, Blue Danube & Valkyries At The Jazz Corner

Read "Boléro, Blue Danube & Valkyries At The Jazz Corner" reviewed by Martin McFie


Justin Varnes Orchestra The Jazz Corner Classical meets Jazz Hilton Head Island,SC October 20, 2019 As a precursor to the two main pieces of music in this Sunday lunchtime program, the Justin Varnes Orchestra played the most famous waltz ever written, Johann Strauss' II “Blue Danube." The instantly recognized theme ...

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Article: Live Review

Aimée Nolte at the Jazz Corner

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Aimée Nolte with Nicki Parrott The Jazz Corner Hilton Head Island, SC October 18-19, 2019 Cool Autumn breezes carried two sophisticated ladies to the Carolinas. Pianist and singer Aimée Nolte from jny: Los Angeles invited her friend from Connecticut, Nicki Parrott to sing and play bass together with ...

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Article: Live Review

The Justin Varnes Orchestra's Rhapsody In Blue At The Jazz Corner

Read "The Justin Varnes Orchestra's Rhapsody In Blue At The Jazz Corner" reviewed by Martin McFie


The Justin Varnes Orchestra The Jazz Corner Rhapsody in Blue Hilton Head Island, SC May 12, 2019For Mother's Day luncheon, The Jazz Corner presented another in their “Classical meets Jazz" series of concerts, “Rhapsody in Blue."The opening clarinet trill, a scale, then the slowly extruded glissando ...

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Article: Live Review

Justin Varnes Orchestra's Peer Gynt Suite At The Jazz Corner

Read "Justin Varnes Orchestra's Peer Gynt Suite At The Jazz Corner" reviewed by Martin McFie


Justin Varnes Orchestra The Jazz Corner Peer Gynt Suite Hilton Head Island, SC January 20, 2019 Written in five acts of rhyming Danish verse, Peer Gynt is a play by Norwegian Henrik Ibsen, which was set to music by fellow countryman Edvard Grieg. Where does the jazz come in? Like ...

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Article: Live Review

Justin Varnes & Ulysses Owens Jr at The Jazz Corner

Read "Justin Varnes & Ulysses Owens Jr at The Jazz Corner" reviewed by Martin McFie


Justin Varnes / Ulysses Owens Jr. The Jazz Corner Hilton Head Island, SC September 21-22, 2018 The special relationship between jazz drummers and bass players could never have been more obvious than on two consecutive weekends at The Jazz Corner in September 2018. Holding down the rhythm and bass line together, ...

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Article: Live Review

Ellington's Nutcracker at The Jazz Corner

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Justin Varnes The Jazz Corner Hilton Head Island, SC December 15, 2017Every Christmas is the Nutcracker Season for ballet aficionados. The legendary composing and arranging skills of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn also make it Nutcracker Season for jazz aficionados. In 1960, Ellington and Strayhorn wrote their version ...


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