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Easton’s own Mulgrew Miller will open the Jazz Masters Series of the 2000-2001 Performance Series at Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts.

A world-renowned jazz pianist, Miller will bring his Wingspan band to Lafayette on Friday, September 1, at 8:00 pm. Wingspan features saxophonist Steve Wilson and vibraphonist Steve Nelson as front-line voices, with Miller anchoring the rhythm section of bassist Richie Goods and drummer Karriem Riggins. Tickets for the concert are $15 and may be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009.

Since moving his family to Easton some ten years ago, Miller has continued to build his phenomenal career in jazz, as a frequent collaborator with the likes of Joe Henderson, James Moody, Kenny Garrett, Branford Marsalis, and the late Tony Williams. Whether touring in Japan, Europe, and South America, honing his musical craft at “A List” New York recording sessions, or plying his trade as sideman for luminaries of the jazz world, Miller commands the highest respect among both musicians and fans, known by the enviable moniker, “a pianist’s pianist.”

From his years of touring in the bands of Art Blakey, Betty Carter, and Woody Shaw — all renowned for their tutelage of younger players — Miller absorbed the musical passion and performance integrity of some of the greatest mentors in American jazz. His tenure in Blakey’s band, both as pianist and as music director, placed him in the privileged tradition of other keyboard greats who had served in this capacity, among them Horace Silver, Bobby Timmons, Cedar Walton, James Williams, and Donald Brown.

Now enjoying career accolades of his own, Miller brings to his live concerts a maturity of craftsmanship and probing, creative spirit entirely worthy of his musical pedigree. One critic has noted that “Miller’s two-fisted attack — faultless, irresistable rhythms from his left hand, dashing single-note lines from his right — is resplendent, in tandem with Steve Nelson’s fragrant bouquets from the vibraphone, creating mysterious intensity.”

Miller has performed twice at the Williams Center, as assisting artist and collaborator. In 1994, he was part of James Williams’ memorable four-piano tribute to the late Phineas Newborn, Jr. Two years ago, he was special guest in the wonderful jazz concert featuring Jon Faddis, Slide Hampton, and Jimmy Heath.

Jazz Masters continues on October 31 as Mingus Big Band brings together 14 of New York’s best as part of a “Blues and Politics” tour, followed by bassist Ray Drummond’s Excursions Band on January 26, which will point the defining “New York Jazz” compass outward to embrace Latin America and West Africa. Saxophonist Bobby Watson’s Horizon quintet plays on March 23, and pianist Uri Caine returns to Lafayette with his “Mahler Project” on April 11. The price of Jazz Masters is $69, a $14 savings off the total cost of the individual concerts.

All performances begin at 8 p.m. Subscribers are given priority seating; those who renew by August 18, 2000 are guaranteed to keep the seats they had last year. Single ticket orders for any of these concerts will be filled beginning August 21. Tickets for a series or individual event may be ordered by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

The 2000-2001 Jazz masters series at Lafayette is underwritten by a special grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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