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McCoy Tyner, the unrivaled master of acoustic jazz piano and one-time member of the legendary John Coltrane Quartet, will open Lafayette’s Jazz Masters series with the McCoy Tyner Trio and guest flutist Dave Valentin 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, at the Williams Center for the Arts.

Individual tickets for the concert cost $20. A subscription to Jazz Masters, which costs $59, also includes concerts by Tom Harrell, Down Beat’s Composer of the Year in 2001, and his quintet Friday, Nov. 8; Charlie Haden’s “Nocturne” Wednesday, Feb. 5, featuring music from the 2002 Grammy winner for Best Latin Jazz Recording; and heralded young saxophonist Chris Potter with his quartet Tuesday, April 8. All performances start 8 p.m. The subscription represents a $14 savings compared to the total cost of the individual concerts.

To order or learn more about subscription packages or individual tickets, call the Williams Center at 610-330-5010. Starting Tuesday, Aug. 27, call the box office at 610-330-5009 from noon-2 p.m., 4-5 p.m., and one hour before performances.

Tyner boasts four decades of distinguished accomplishment in music, extending from his Philadelphia roots with Coltrane, Bud Powell, and Lee Morgan to his current ensemble partners, bassist Avery Sharpe and Aaron Scott.

“He gets a very personal sound from his instrument and because of the clusters he uses and the way he voices them, that sound is brighter than what would normally be expected from most of the chord patterns he plays,” said the late Coltrane. “McCoy has an exceptionally well developed sense of form, both as a soloist and an accompanist.”

“For me, for the moment my cooperation with McCoy is the highlight of my career,” says saxophonist Michael Brecker. “McCoy is the best accompanist of the world. Sometimes, I simply cannot believe what happens behind me. McCoy invented a piano style which belongs completely to himself. I do not know a modern jazz pianist who is not influenced by him.”

Born in Philadelphia in 1938, Tyner began studying the piano at age 13. He studied at West Philadelphia Music School and later at Granoff School of Music. At age 17, while playing at a local club called the Red Rooster, he first met Coltrane, who was in Philadelphia between gigs with Miles Davis.

Tyner was the first pianist in Benny Golson’s and Art Farmer’s legendary Jazztet in 1959. By 1960, when Coltrane left Davis to form his own group, Tyner joined him, participating in all major recording sessions through 1965, including the landmark Africa Brass, A Love Supreme, and My Favorite Things. While with Coltrane, Tyner also recorded many of his own albums for Impulse! — including such classics as Inception, Night of Ballads and Blues, and Live at Newport — and later for Blue Note.

In the 1970s, Tyner played in groups featuring Sonny Fortune and Azar Lawrence, and made recordings for Milestone like Sahara, which received two Grammy nominations and was named “Album of the Year” in the Down Beat Critics Poll. He toured and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter, and Al Foster as the Milestone Jazzstars in 1978, and in the mid-1980s, Tyner led a quintet that included Gary Bartz and violinist John Blake. Since 1980, Tyner has also arranged for a 14-piece big band, but since the late 1980s, he mainly has focused on his regular piano trio.

Born in New York, Valentin started playing Latin percussion at age five and began performing professionally at 11. He picked up the flute for the first time at 16. He took lessons for six months from Hubert Laws, one of the best jazz flutists in the world, trained classically for three months with Harold Bennett and three months with Harold Jones. Valentin taught Latin jazz to inner city youth, and was able to involve gang members in the program. He accepted a position as a full-time professor teaching Latin and music for several years. Valentin recorded 18 albums as a leader for GRP before signing with Concord Vista. Although best known as a leader, he has had some notable stints as a sideman.

“One of the highlights for me has been being the musical director for Tito Puente, an idol of mine who I grew up listening to,” he says. “I mean, Tito Puente slept in my house! Also, playing with McCoy Tyner was like being in heaven. And I remember the 70th birthday party at Wolf Trap for Dizzy Gillespie; that was a great moment for me. I have also been a guest with Machito, Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz, Michel Camilo, and many others.”

The Williams Center also will host the 16th Annual Easton Jazz Festival, featuring the legendary Phil Woods Quintet and piano phenom Marc Copland with his trio, both at the gala Saturday night concert Nov. 16. The preceding day, the Williams Center will bring in major national artists for its first-ever Blues Festival, presented in cooperation with the Lehigh Valley Blues Network. Tickets for each concert cost $20, with all proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Easton.

The nationally recognized Performance Series attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

Jazz Masters is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The 2002-03 Performance Series at Lafayette is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by the F.M. Kirby Foundation; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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