© Copyright © 2018 Julian Gerstin | All Rights Reserved


For over 40 years, I’ve performed and studied a wide variety of music. My main styles are traditions of Martinique, Cuba, Ghana (Ewe) and Brazil; popular music from those same countries as well as Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and other Caribbean islands; Balkan music; and jazz. I’ve performed styles ranging from punk to choral music, Mexican son to zydeco. But the main styles are the Caribbean and jazz, with a taste of the Balkans.

I like music that makes me think … and music that makes me sweat.

I perform on a wide variety of percussion instruments: tanbou bèlè, a drum from Martinique; Cuban instruments including conga, bongó, cajón, and shekere; Brazilian samba instruments such as surdo, pandeiro, repinique, timbal and agogo; the tappan drum from Bulgaria/Macedonia; and many others, including washboard and donkey’s jawbone.


Previous performance experiences include:

Traditional ensembles: Bel Alians, Maframé, Plastic System Band (Martinique); Ladzekpo Brothers (Ghana); Olumeta, Judith Justíz Dance Ensemble (Cuba); Batucada Nana, Batucada d’Leste (Brazilian samba) and Oxossí (Brazilian candomble); Lua (Mexico)

Jazz: Joel Harrison, Samirah Evans, Eugene Uman, Michael Smolens, Charly Labinsky, Paco Charlery, Walking Fish, Grooveyard; plus guest appearances with such notables as Charles Neville, Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Mongo Santamaria, Badal Roy, Freddie Bryant, Ray Vega, Satoshi Takeishi, Helmut Kagerer, Marcus McLaurine, Jeff Galindo, Francisco Mela, Clarie Arenius

Popular music: Richard Hell and the Voidoids (punk); O.J. Ekemode, Kotoja, Zulu Spear (Africa); Green Mountain Mambo, Soul Sabroso, Conjunto Fabuloso (salsa); The Sidewinders, Sundance (soca, reggae); Syncrosystem, Gaslight Tinkers (world beat); Lil’ Orphans (cajun, zydeco); Tickle Tune Typhoon (children’s music)

Classical, choral, theater: River Singers, Greenfield Harmony, Windham Symphony, Brattleboro Community Choir, Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, Colombian Ethnic Dance Company, Bill Evans Dance Company, Cornish Institute of the Arts, Danceworks Northwest, The Dance Place, Children’s Radio Theater, Bennington College

Commissioned compositions:

“Wind Carries the Raft,” Craig Sylvern (tenor saxophone) & Chris Swist (marimba) 2011
“The Real Dr. Love Shark,” Keene State College Percussion Ensemble 2011
“Cycle of Leaves,” Western Kentucky University Percussion Ensemble, 1999; Keene State College Percussion Ensemble 2010
“Ochún, Oyá, Yemayá,” Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, 2009


Julian Gerstin Sextet, The Old City (2018)
Julian Gerstin Sextet, The One Who Makes You Happy (2017)
Green Mountain Mambo, Who’s a Patriot? (2012)
As Yet Quintet, Strange but True (2009)
Zabap, Polar Bear Meltdown (2007)
Syncrosystem, No Immunity (2006)
Michael Smolens and Kriya, Essentions (2006)
Syncrosystem, Syncrosystem (2004)
Joel Harrison Octet, Range of Motion (Koch 1997)
Various, One World (Putumayo 1996)
Kotoja, Super Sawalé Collection (Putumayo 1994)
Various, The Best of World Music: African (Putumayo 1993)
Kotoja, Sawale (Mesa/Blue Moon 1992)


PhD, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley 1996
MA, Anthropology, University of Chicago 1978
BA, New York University 1976

Musical Training

I have learned from many, many people! Here are some of the main ones, but I am thankful to them all.

Composition & theory: Jamie Baum, Joel Harrison, Harry Likacs, Eugene Uman
Ghana: Saeed Abbas, Kofi Anang, Faith Conant, Dan Gorlin, C.K. Ladzekpo
Martinique: Daniel Bardury, Georges Dru, Lydie Dru, Pierre Dru, Etienne Jean-Baptiste, Siméline Rangon, Paulo Rastocle
Cuba: John Amira, Wilson “Chembo” Corniel, Lorenzo Peñavel, Sandy Pérez, Miguel Periche, John Santos, Elizabeth Sayre, Michael Spiro, Chris Walker
Brazil: Ken Dalluge, Gary Harding, Logan Schutts
Macedonia/Serbia/Balkans/Middle East: Jerry Kisslinger, Helen Marx, Todd Roach


Music Teaching

I’ve given private and ensemble lessons for 30+ years, currently at the Vermont Jazz Center and Northampton Community Music Center. Other local classes have included the New England Folk Festival, Vermont Governor’s Institute, Main Street Arts, the Loft, and Hit It! Youth Percussion Camp. Before moving to New England, I led ensembles at San Francisco’s Blue Bear School of Music, Berkeley’s Ashkenaz, and the International Music Seminar in Montpelier, France.

See Teaching/Workshops and Teaching/Community for current offerings.


I have taught ethnomusicology and cultural anthropology at several colleges and universities. See Teaching/Academia/CV for a list. My publications include The Musician’s Guide to Rhythm (with Ken Dalluge) and numerous academic papers, also listed in Teaching/Academia/CV.

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Julian Gerstin

— Music of Africa, the Caribbean and the African Diaspora —
percussion / ethnomusicology

62 Spruce St., Brattleboro VT 05301
(802) 246-1313

Julian Gerstin

— Music of Africa, the Caribbean and the African Diaspora —
percussion / ethnomusicology

62 Spruce St., Brattleboro VT 05301
(802) 246-1313


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