Gunter “Baby” Sommer/Wadada Leo Smith Duo

Friday, December 2, 2011, Bezanson Recital Hall

The Solos & Duos Series, produced by the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, concludes its 10th season with a concert by the Wadada Leo Smith/Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer Duo.

General Admission: $10; Students $5

Günter ‘Baby’ Sommer is one of the master musicians of contemporary European jazz, a percussionist of enormous originality and humor, who has recorded with Cecil Taylor, Peter Brötzmann and Günter Grass. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is a hugely influential trumpeter and educator, who has worked with every major improviser of the last 40 years.

There is a small tradition of trumpet and drums duos in jazz: Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell in 1969, and Bill Dixon and Tony Oxley in 1997. Smith and Sommer, who have been playing together since the late 1970s, add to this legacy. “The cinematic effect of this music is absolutely uncanny,” writes Thom Jurek.

“This duo has established its own abstract-concrete musical space,” writes Oliver Schwerdt in the liner notes to Wisdom in Time (Intakt, 2006). “In a mature dimension, magic can be produced like this, using spurs to ramble to a cosmic organon: essential fruits of a long life. As demanding as they are pleasing. World-class calm.”

Born in Dresden, East Germany, in 1943, Sommer studied at the Hochschule für Musik “Carl Maria von Weber” from 1962-66. (He now teaches at the University.) He was soon performing with masters like saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowksy and pianist Ulrich Gumpert, and has released over 100 recordings with Peter Kowald, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Barre Phillips.

Born in Leland, Mississippi, in 1941, Wadada Leo Smith has been a celebrated teacher at CalArts since 1993, a life-long member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, winner of numerous grants and awards from the NEA and Guggenheim Foundation, and collaborated with Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, George Lewis, Cecil Taylor, Oliver Lake, Anthony Davis, Carla Bley, David Murray, Don Cherry and Jeanne Lee, among many others. “Leo Smith is one of the most vital musicians on the planet today,” writes Bill Shoemaker. “To say that Smith is a highly original player would be an understatement.”

In collaboration with the University’s DEFA Film Library, a screening of Juergen Boettcher’s celebrated 2001 experimental documentary, “A Place in Berlin”, which features “Baby” Sommer, will take place, Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Amherst Cinema. Sommer will also perform a short solo set.

To hear samples from or to purchase their newest collaboration check out the itunes store.

The Solos & Duos Series is produced by the UMass Fine Arts Center. Thanks to the UMass Hotel at the Campus Center. Amherst College and WMUA, 91.1FM

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Spirit & Soul: Escorted Bus Tour

Saturday, November 19, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City

Composer: Philip Glass, Librettists: Constance de John & Philip Glass

The Met’s visually extravagant production is back for an encore engagement. Richard Croft once again sings Gandhi in Philip Glass’s unforgettable opera, which the Washington Post calls “a profound and beautiful work of theater.” Sung in Sanskrit with English supertitles

Tickets: $175 each, all inclusive. Subscriber’s special: $160 each before July 1.

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Arlo Guthrie

Boys Night Out

Friday, November 18, 8pm, Concert Hall

Three generations of Guthrie boys on stage! Arlo Guthrie is gearing up for the Guthrie “Boys’ Night Out” with Abe and Krishna. For over four decades, Arlo Guthrie has toured the world winning a broad and dedicated following. In addition to being an accomplished musician, Guthrie is a natural-born storyteller whose hilarious tales and timeless anecdotes are woven seamlessly into his performances.

Reserved Seating: $35, $30, $15; FC, GCC, STCC and 17 & under $10

One of the great 20th century American folk singers—and consummate storytellers—comes to the Center with his son Abe Guthrie, grandson Krishna Guthrie, and longtime collaborator, Terry a La Berry for a highly entertaining evening of folk favorites, amusing stories, and witty anecdotes. “A hour and a half in the presence of Guthrie is like receiving the most enjoyable and authoritative master class on 20th century American folk music one could possibly have.” (The Independent, London) The son of singer-songwriter and activist Woody Guthrie, Arlo’s career exploded in 1967 with the release of his highly original “Alice’s Restaurant,” a satirical anti-war anthem. The record spun off a hit movie and Guthrie became a cultural hero to a new generation espousing social consciousness and activism. A gifted musician on the piano, six and twelve-string guitar, harmonica and a dozen other instruments, Guthrie has equal talent for clever repartee, promising an event the whole family will enjoy.

If you’ve been to an Arlo Guthrie concert in the past 20 years, it’s likely you’ve seen Abe and heard his adept and tasteful keyboard accompaniment along with his powerful supporting vocals. It was rare to see an Arlo show without Abe by his side. Arlo, who has just completed a year-long Solo Reunion Tour, said, “Abe is just a great musician. I can’t wait to get back to playing together.” Krishna Guthrie, at only 17, is already an accomplished musician playing drums and guitar. He got his first drum set at two; by three he had already made his first appearance with his father and grandfather on stage. Since then, he has occasionally joined the family on stage playing drums. This summer Arlo travels with his son and grandson for the Guthrie Boys’ Night Out. The name says it all. This is a ‘must-see’ show for fans of all ages.

Arlo Guthrie was born with a guitar in one hand and a harmonica in the other, in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York in 1947. He is the eldest son of America’s most beloved singer/writer/philosopher Woody Guthrie and Marjorie Mazia Guthrie, a professional dancer with the Martha Graham Company and founder of The Committee to Combat Huntington’s Disease.

He grew up surrounded by dancers and musicians: Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays (The Weavers), Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, all of whom were significant influences on Arlo’s musical career. Guthrie gave his first public performance in 1961 at age 13 and quickly became involved in the music that was shaping the world.

Arlo practically lived in the most famous venues of the “Folk Boom” era. In New York City he hung out at Gerdes Folk City, The Gaslight and The Bitter End. In Boston’s Club 47, and in Philadelphia he made places like The 2nd Fret and The Main Point his home. He witnessed the transition from an earlier generation of ballad singers like Richard Dyer-Bennet and blues-men like Mississippi John Hurt, to a new era of singer-song writers such as Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. He grooved with the beat poets like Allen Ginsburg and Lord Buckley, and picked with players like Bill Monroe and Doc Watson. He learned something from everyone and developed his own style, becoming a distinctive, expressive voice in a crowded community of singer-songwriters and political-social commentators.

Arlo Guthrie’s career exploded in 1967 with the release of “Alice’s Restaurant”, whose title song premiered at the Newport Folk Festival helped foster a new commitment among the ’60s generation to social consciousness and activism. Arlo went on to star in the 1969 Hollywood film version of “Alice’s Restaurant”, directed by Arthur Penn.

With songs like “Alice’s Restaurant”, too long for radio airplay; “Coming into Los Angeles”, banned from many radio stations (but a favorite at the 1969 Woodstock Festival); and the definitive rendition of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans”, Guthrie was no One-Hit-Wonder. An artist of international stature, he has never had a ‘hit’ in the usual sense. He has usually preferred to walk to his own beat rather than march in step to the drum of popular culture.

Arts Give Back: Please bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Amherst Survival Center.

For more information about Arlo Guthrie and the Guthrie Boys’ Night Out Tour, visit

To hear samples or purchase music check out the itunes store.

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The Tia Fuller Quartet

The Joy of Sax

Wednesday, November 16, 7:30pm, Bowker Auditorium

Saxophonist Tia Fuller definitely leaves an impression. Influenced by legends such as Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Stitt, and John Coltrane, her playing is dynamic and fluid as she navigates the trickiest of lines with a tone that is rich and meaty. It’s a sound that works well in the modern brand of straight-ahead bebop she writes for her quartet, but Fuller is also flexible enough to play in Beyoncé’s all-woman touring band.

Billy Taylor Jazz Residency Artist

Reserved Seating: $25, $15; FC, GCC, STCC and 17 & under $10

Jazz musicians are blessed with the desire and ability to play a genre that has a history as rich as its sound. All the greats, past and present know that it’s not enough to simply play the notes, one has to live the music and feel it with every breath. When Mack Avenue recording artist, Tia Fuller picks up her sax to play, the two become one and something amazing happens as the notes and reverberations of her musical elixir fill the room. Suddenly, everything in the universe feels right and it’s easy to see and hear why this artist and teacher, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, (Magna Cum Laude) and Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder (Summa Cum Laude), was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with R&B star, Beyoncé. As part of the I AM..Sasha Fierce and Beyoncé Experience World Tour promoting the superstar’s CD’s, Tia has played in various venues throughout the US, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. She is a featured soloist on the Beyoncé Experience DVD (Me, Myself and I) and also appeared on number of major television shows, such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show, Good Morning America, BET Awards, American Music Awards and Total Request Live.

An accomplished performer in her own right, Tia has recorded three CDs with her quartet. The first, Pillar of Strength (2005/Wambui), received praise as being “an exhilarating work that introduced her as a leader who strives for perfection” (Terrell Holmes, All About Jazz Magazine). Her sophomore release, Healing Space (2007/Mack Avenue), is an offering of “melodic medicine” that the wide-eyed optimist sincerely hopes will serve as a healing agent for those who indulge in it. Tia will be releasing her third CD “Decisive Steps”, Jan. 2010, which will be her second offering under the Mack Avenue label. Her quartet was recently featured at Oris Watches/ Time Tourneau building for WBGO’s jazz festival. Tia can also be seen performing regularly with a number of bands, including the Ralph Peterson Septet, the T.S. Monk Septet, the Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, the Rufus Reid Septet, the Sean Jones Quintet, the Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, and Wycliff Gordan Septet.

The dynamic saxophonist has been featured in Jazz Improv Magazine, Rocky Mountain News, The Philadelphia Tribune, The Star Ledger, Downbeat Magazine and many other print and online publications. In addition to receiving numerous awards and marks of distinction, Tia was honored to be the keynote speaker at the Jazz Institute of New Jersey’s 2003 graduation ceremony, where she presented her “Journey to Success” speech. She also be featured solist playing “The National Anthem” for Detroit Tiger Stadium in Sept. 2009. Also, in January 2008, she had the privilege of participating in a press conference with pianist and composer, Danilo Perez and the Governor of the Republic of Panama, Carlos A. Villarino.

Tia believes her passion for teaching and inspiring students is in her genes because her parents were educators/administrators in the Denver Public School District. As a devoted educator, she presents lectures and teaches ensembles and masterclasses at some of the most respected institutions in the country, including Stanford University’s “Jazz Workshop,” the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, New Mexico State University, the IAJE Jazz Convention, Purchase College, WBGO’s “Children in Jazz” Series, Duquesne University and Panama Jazz Festival.

To hear samples head over to her official website or to purchase music go directly to the itunes store.

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