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Drummer Jack DeJohnette grabbed all the headlines at last summer’s Montreal Jazz Festival with his commissioned program of Latin jazz. Two legendary percussionists, conga drummer Giovanni Hidalgo and bongo-timbale wizard Luisito Quintero, joined him in a dream-team rhythm section that combined with pianist Edsel Gomez (of David Sánchez fame), clarinetist Don Byron, and bassist Jerome Harris.

The sextet has reunited for an eight-city, national Latin Project tour that will include a performance 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, at the Williams Center for the Arts. Tickets for the public cost $20 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

Standby tickets are available. To receive one, come to the Williams Center at 7 p.m. At least 40 holders of standby tickets gained entrance to last week’s Williams Center performance.

Gomez will give a public talk on “Fundamentals of Latin Jazz” at 7 p.m. in Williams Center room 123. Funding support for the lecture has been provided by the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation.

Montreal’s La Presse newspaper calls the Latin Project “a perfect evening of real Latin jazz of the highest harmonic subtleties, superb melodies, and quite simply hallucinogenic percussion.”

DeJohnette worked on two Grammy-nominated recordings in 2004, The Out of Towners with Keith Jarrett and Gary Peacock, and Don Byron’s Ivey Divey. Last year also saw the release of Rarum Vol. 12: Selected Recordings, a compilation of highlights from his ECM catalog.

He rang in the new year with the debut of the Jack DeJohnette Quartet, which played a five-night, sold-out engagement at New York’s Birdland Jazz Club that brought audiences to standing ovations and led The New York Timesto declare that DeJohnette is “looking ever more like one of the most important musicians in the last 40 years of jazz.”

DeJohnette has collaborated with many of the major figures in jazz history, including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Ornette Coleman, Ron Carter, Sun Ra, Jackie McLean, Lee Morgan, Charles Lloyd, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, and Eddie Harris.

Born in Chicago in 1942, DeJohnette began formal piano training at age four. At 14, he began playing drums with his high school concert band and taking private piano lessons at Chicago Conservatory of Music. In his early years on the Chicago scene, he led his own groups and was equally in demand as pianist and drummer.

In 1968 he joined Miles Davis’ group in time for the epochal upheaval marked by Bitches Brew, a fusion album that changed the direction of jazz.In his autobiography, Davis wrote, “Jack DeJohnette gave me a deep groove that I just loved to play over.” Working with Davis also brought about collaborations with John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, and Dave Holland.

DeJohnette recorded his first album that year, The DeJohnette Complex, as a leader on the Milestone label, playing melodica along with mentor Roy Haynes on drums. In the early 1970s he recorded Have You Heard in Japan and two albums for Prestige, called Sorcery and Cosmic Chicken. These early sessions united him with Gary Peacock, Bennie Maupin, Stanley Cowell, Miroslav Vitous, Eddie Gomez, Alex Foster, and Peter Warren.

He began to record as a leader for ECM (for whom he still records), with each of his successive groups — Directions, New Directions, and Special Edition — making important contributions to the evolution of jazz. New Directions featured two musicians who would have long-term associations with DeJohnette: John Abercrombie and Lester Bowie. A friend from Chicago days, Bowie played intermittently with DeJohnette until the end of his life. Most notably, they collaborated on Zebra, a world beat-influenced video soundtrack and CD. Abercrombie continued to work with DeJohnette in the Gateway Trio along with Dave Holland. Special Edition, with its rotating front line, helped introduce the sounds of David Murray, Rufus Reid, Howard Johnson, Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman, Greg Osby, Michael Caine, Lonnie Plaxico, Gary Thomas and John Purcell to a wider audience.

DeJohnette has also recorded as a leader on Columbia, Landmark, MCA/GRP, and Toshiba/EMI/Blue Note.

The nationally recognized Performance Series at Lafayette 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.

The 2004-05 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, J. Mahlon and Grace Buck Foundation, and Croasdale Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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