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For all the high-profile headliners who have appeared at the Williams Center for the Arts, many “under the radar” jazz masters have provided some of the most rewarding engagements. The list of these standouts will soon include journeyman trumpeter Brian Lynch, who will play “Latin jazz and beyond” with his Spheres of Influence nonet 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Tickets are free for students, $4 for faculty and staff, and $18 for the public. They can be obtained by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

Known as one of the finest sidemen and most sought-after session players, Lynch ranks with the most respected composers and band leaders working in New York. His musicianship has inspired generous praise.

Jazziz: “You can lose yourself in the pure energy of his playing, but at any moment you can switch your attention to the logic and craftsmanship of his music and find multiple rewardsYou won’t find a better display of jazz trumpetry.”
Downbeat: “Lynch demonstrates that a dedicated, knowledgeable jazzman can play a diversity of styles with telling authenticity, and make the renditions extremely appealing to both musician and neophyte…Lynch is simply first-rate.”
The New Yorker: “When you’re as dynamic and flexible a trumpeter as Lynch, everyone wants you.”
The Los Angeles Times: “A masterful soloist who came to prominence with the late Art Blakey…Lynch is even more in command today… offering peerless, flawless improvisations and collaborating empathetically…Lynch is also a gifted composer.”

Lynch grew up in Milwaukee, where he apprenticed on a high level with such local residents as pianist Buddy Montgomery and organist Melvin Rhyne while earning a degree from Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Relocating to San Diego in 1980, he gained further valuable experience in the group of alto master Charles McPherson.

In 1981, Lynch moved to New York and soon linked up with Horace Silver Quintet (1982–85) and Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra (1982–88). Simultaneously, he played and recorded on the Latin scene with salsa bandleader Angel Canales (1982–83) and legendary cantante Hector LaVoe (1983–87).

Lynch began his long association with Eddie Palmieri in 1987, documenting cross-cultural investigations with his seminal Afro-Caribbean Jazz Octet on Arete, Palmas and Vortex (Nonesuch and RMM). He has collaborated with Palmieri as an arranger, co-composer, and musical director. In a rare gesture, Palmieri took advantage of Lynch’s pen on the recent albums La Perfecta II and Ritmo Caliente (Concord Picante).

Not long after beginning his collaboration with Palmieri, Lynch joined the final edition of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. He began his association with Phil Woods in 1992, and also worked frequently with Benny Golson around this time.

In 1986, Lynch recorded his first album as a leader, Peer Pressure, for Criss-Cross. Then followed Back Room Blues and At The Main Event (Criss-Cross), In Process (Ken), Keep Your Circle Small (Sharp Nine), and a string of sideman dates with Blakey and Woods. He also made a name for himself as a composer through numerous songs that play with and stretch harmony while never losing melodic essence and rhythmic thrust.

A grant from the Doris Duke Jazz Fund led Lynch to assemble Spheres of Influence, named for his acclaimed 1997 recording. He has gathered a powerful ensemble of top-flight musicians, all of them with impeccable reputations around New York for stellar musicianship and creative flair. The ensemble includes Lynch, trumpet, flugelhorn; Jon Gordon, alto sax; Craig Handy, tenor, soprano sax; Conrad Herwig, trombone; Roger Rosenberg, baritone sax, flute; Manuel Valera, piano; Boris Kozlov, bass; Dafnis Prieto, drums; and Pedro Martinez, percussion. Prieto wowed the Williams Center audience in September with Arturo O’Farrill’s Riza Negra band.

“This is the end of the century, and a lot of music has gone down,” Lynch said several years ago. “I think that to be a straight-ahead jazz musician now means drawing on a wider variety of things than 30 or 40 years ago. Not to play a little bit of this or a little bit of that, but to blend everything together into something that sounds good. It doesn’t sound like pastiche or shifting styles; it’s people with a lot of knowledge.”

Seeking to share his knowledge and keep in touch with the fundamentals of his art, Lynch has turned increasingly to teaching in recent years. He holds faculty positions at New York University and North Netherlands Conservatory, has taught at Stanford Jazz Workshop, and has conducted workshops in numerous major institutes of learning, including The Eastman School of Music, Dartmouth University, University of North Texas, and Columbia University, among many others.

Lynch’s performance is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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 2005–2006 Performance Series is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; 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, the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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