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Student musicians of the Lafayette Jazz Ensemble will showcase the results of their collaboration with renowned bassist Ray Drummond in a concert 8 p.m. Friday, May 4, in the Williams Center for the Arts. The concert will include two compositions that Drummond has developed with the students as commissioned works funded by Lafayette’s cultural program.

The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

Personnel includes Lafayette students Chris Michaud ’03 (Millerton, N.Y.), Ryan Collins ’03 (Whitehouse Station, N.J.), and Ben Persofsky ’01 (Philadelphia, Pa.) on saxophones; Elizabeth Ponder ’04 (Collegeville, Pa.), saxophone and flute; Tom Ahrens ’02 (Haddonfield, N.J.) and Rachel Devlin ’01 (Staten Island, N.Y.), trumpet; Mike Beatrice ’04 (Mahwah, N.J.), trombone; Dan Miller ’03 (East Amherst, N.Y.), bass; Ned Allis ’02 (Shermans Dale, Pa.), guitar, and Brandon Cochenour ’03 (Lower Burrell, Pa.), piano. Ahrens also serves as student assistant for the ensemble.

As Lafayette’s Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence for 2000-01, Drummond has given lectures, workshops, group and individual coaching sessions with students, and a concert in January with his Excursions band. He has been working with the Jazz Ensemble to assess ability and rehearse. He has also given workshops and clinic presentations with music students at Easton Area High School and Moravian Academy.

“He has ‘big ears’ that have helped him be an inspiration to the members of the ensemble as well as a tremendous instructor in terms of musical development,” says ensemble director Ken Brader. “He has played with the band in some rehearsals, sharing his ability to generate a great feel in the music that he plays. His music is very challenging in the sense of the harmonies that he uses and he has exposed the improvisers in the band to a fresh and interesting approach to harmonic construction. He will be featured on the concert as a performer and composer/arranger in both the large group and small group settings.”

The concert program includes two commissioned works by Drummond: “Susanita,” an up-tempo arrangement for big band of a Drummond classic, and “A Lafayette Moment,” an original ballad created by Drummond for his residency work with Lafayette students.

The concert program also includes the following charts, with featured artists, including area professional musicians:

  • “Chrisamba” by Thomas A. Brown, a samba with Michaud on tenor sax and Vince Pettinelli on trumpet
  • “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin, with Persofsky on baritone sax and David Cianci on bass trombone
  • “Conspiracy Theory” by Mike Tomaro, with Michaud on tenor sax, Cochenour on piano, and Ken Mease on trombone
  • “Grace” by Quincy Jones and Jeremy Lubbock, with Michaud on tenor sax
  • “The Git” by Bill Holman, with Chuck Cooper on drums
  • “Sandu,” with a small combo comprised Ahrens on trumpet, Michaud on tenor sax, Cochenour on piano, Cooper on drums, and Dan Miler on bass
  • “Critics Choice,” by Oliver Nelson, with Drummond

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.

A noted trumpet player and conductor, Brader also teachers trumpet at Lafayette. He received his degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he later directed the Jazz Ensemble. He has been featured as lead trumpet player with Chuck Mangione, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and many of the world’s leading jazz performers. In July 1998, he performed at several major international jazz festivals on the 23-day tour of eight European countries as a member of the Phil Woods Big Band. He is a member of the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra. Brader performed as lead trumpet on the CD Live at Carnegie Hall – The 50th Anniversary Concert by Patti Page, which won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance. He performed as lead trumpet and soloist in the nationally broadcast PBS TV special “Songs of Johnny Mercer” with Johnny Mathis and Melissa Manchester. He was part of the band that played for the Republican National Convention in 2000.

In addition to funding support from the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence endowment, the project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which has made possible the commissioned works.

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