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Renowned jazz bassist Ray Drummond will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, January 26 with his sextet, Excursions, at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts.

Tickets cost $15 and may be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009.

At noon Thursday, January 25, drummer Mor Thiam will give a free lecture and performance for Larry Stockton’s World Music students in the Williams Center theater. At 5 p.m. Friday, Drummond and Thiam will give a clinic on the origins of American jazz in African drumming traditions in the Williams Center theater. Both presentations are free and open to the public.

Excursions takes American jazz as its basic electricity, with a rhythm section of drummer Victor Lewis, pianist Renee Rosnes, and Drummond himself setting the pulse and harmonic direction from his command post at string bass. The distinctive elements of world rhythms are added by Senegalese hand drummer Thiam, a charismatic figure in music with his lightning-fast hands and the deeply resonant timbres of his “talking drums.” Drummond uses two saxophones as the melodic leads of the group, with longtime colleagues Craig Handy and Tim Armacost on board for an exciting excursion into African-American music.

Drummond was born in Massachusetts and relocated to California. While in the San Francisco area, he worked with Bobby Hutcherson, Michael White, Martha Young (Lester Young’s niece), Tom Harrell, and Eddie Marshall. He moved to New York, where he quickly became a first-call bassist. He has played with jazz notables such as Wynton Marsalis, Betty Carter, Woody Shaw, Pharoah Sanders, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. Drummond has worked on over 200 recordings, including seven under his own name and three as a co-leader. He is in high demand as a producer. He teaches master classes, seminars, and workshops around the world at places like the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the Berklee School of Music, the University of Massachusetts, and the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland.

“Few jazzers know more about the chemistry between sidemen and material than the portly, jovial bassist, who has become one of jazz’ quintessential sidemen,” notes The New York Daily News.

Drummond is Lafayette’s Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence. In October, he gave a presentation about the musical legacy of Charles Mingus.

Drummond has been commissioned by Lafayette to compose two works for the Jazz Ensemble, which will be performed at its spring concert 8 p.m. Friday, May 4. Admission is free.

Born in Oakland, California in 1962, Handy played guitar, trombone, and piano before he fell in love with the saxophone after hearing Dexter Gordon on the radio. From the time he arrived in New York at age 23 in 1986, Handy was acknowledged as a musician with a big, burly tenor sound, sharp wit, and above all, individuality.

Thiam was born in Dakar, Senegal. His family, members of the Dogon Tribe, are historians who use the drum to tell their story to the Woloff people of Senegal. A master drummer, teacher, and performer, Thiam was performing with the Ballet National de Senegal when he met dancer/choreographer Katherine Dunham. The two began to work closely together and Dunham brought him to the United States in 1968. He soon began working with the Black Artists Group, a collective that included saxophonist Oliver Lake, trumpeter Lester Bowie, and drummer Philip Wilson. After touring Europe with the Alvin Alley Dance Company in 1989, Thiam regularly performed and recorded with the World Saxophone Quartet, the late Don Pullen’s African-Brazilian Connection, Ivo Perelman, and Drummond. In recent years, Thiam has become increasingly in demand as a creative consultant, working with Columbia Agency Artists Management, An Arts Center of New York, the Republic of Senegal’s Ministry of Culture, and the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games’ Cultural Olympiad. He is the artistic director for the annual World Drum and Dance Summit for the City of Atlanta’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the National Black Arts Festival’s World Drummers March for Peace, and the executive director of the Atlanta-based Institute for the Study of African Culture.

A native of Canada, Rosnes began piano lessons at age three and violin when she was five. She worked throughout Canada, performing on CBC Jazz Radio Canada shows, with her trio regularly at a hotel, and on the S.S. Rotterdam Cruise Liner. She moved to New York in 1995 and has recorded with a variety of artists, including Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, J.J. Johnson, Jon Faddis, James Moody, the group Out of the Blue, Gary Thomas, and Robin Eubanks. In addition, Rosnes has recorded several sessions for Blue Note as a leader.

Since he landed in New York in 1993, Armacost has quickly developed a powerful presence on the jazz scene. His April 1996 CD, Fire, on Concord Records, marked his emergence as a leader with a clear voice in the resurgent jazz of the 1990s. His follow up release, Live at Smalls, on Double Time Records, displays the results of his recent harmonic exploration. Armacost’s career is already distinguished by performance and recording credits alongside the likes of Kenny Barron, Billy Hart, Tom Harrell, Ray Drummond, Roy Hargrove, Paquito D’Rivera, Claudio Roditi, Dave Kikoski, Lonnie Plaxico, Robin Eubanks, Pete Christlieb, Jesse Davis, Randy Brecker, Akira Tana, Valery Ponomarev, Hendrik Meurkens, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, and the David Murray Big Band. He has toured throughout East and West Europe, Japan, India, and the United States.

As a child, Victor Lewis studied cello, piano, and finally drums, doing his first hometown gigs in Omaha, Nebraska at age 15. The youngster was encouraged by such musicians as Buster Williams and Billy Hart to make the move to New York, where in 1974 he began a quick ascension to prominence. Clearly out of the Tony Williams school, Victor was the first-call drummer for masters like Joe Farrell, Dexter Gordon, and Hubert Laws, and started long-time associations with Woody Shaw, Carla Bley, David Sunburn, Kenny Baron, Bobby Watson, and Stan Get. Lewis also has a second reputation as a dedicated composer and smart band leader.

The 2000-2001 Performance Series at Lafayette is cosponsored, in part, by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Foundation for

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