April 15, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. Gary Thomas and the Jazz Standard will perform Wednesday, May 1, at 8:30 p.m. in Bucknell Hall at Bucknell University. The concert, which is free and open to the public, is the final event in this semester's Jazz at Bucknell First Wednesdays series.

The Jazz Standard features Gary Thomas on flute and tenor saxophone; Bobby Avey on piano; Blake Meister on bass; and Phil Haynes on drums.

A native of Baltimore, tenor saxophonist Gary Thomas has performed throughout the world as both a leader and sideman. His numerous recording and concert credits include Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Dennis Chambers, Pat Metheny, Nana Vasconcelos, Ron Carter, Vinnie Colaiuta, Billy Hart, Wynton Marsalis, David Sanborn, Joe Lovano, Bobby McFerrin, Sam Rivers, Vanessa Williams, Betty Carter, George Benson, Patrice Rushen, Kevin Eubanks, Greg Osby, John Scofield, Tony Williams, Kenny Garrett, Jimmy Smith, Steve Coleman, and Ravi Coltrane.

Of his 11 recordings as a leader, "By Any Means Necessary" and "While the Gate Is Open," were named best recordings of the 1990s by Downbeat Magazine. As founder, director, and chair of Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute, Thomas is the first African-American degree program director at the conservatory. In demand as a clinician at major universities throughout the U.S. and Europe, he also teaches Jazz Studies at Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Praised by the New Yorker magazine as "A young pianist of invention and refinement," Bobby Avey has established himself as an emerging star in the jazz community. Recently receiving grants from the Doris Duke Foundation & Chamber Music America, his new suite, "Authority Melts From Me," debuted for Jazz@Bucknell in October 2012. Its musical examination and reflection upon the Haitian Revolution of 1791 - 1803 is based upon Avey's live recordings of Vodou ceremonies in the remote village of Soukri. In 2011, he won the esteemed Thelonious Monk Competition for composition. This award followed his 2010 debut record as a leader, "A New Face", lauded by the New York Times as "A promising debut."

In 2005, while a student at the Purchase Conservatory of Music, Avey was invited by NEA Jazz Master David Liebman to adapt and arrange art songs from the Classical and Romantic eras for reinterpretation, creating a vehicle for improvisation. The project, which culminated with the album "Vienna Dialogues", was released in 2006 on ZOHO to rave reviews. Avey graduated from Purchase Conservatory of Music summa cum laude in 2007.

Blake Meister is a Philadelphia native. As a member of the first full class to matriculate in Peabody's jazz studies department, Meister won both the Alice and Leary Taylor and Richard Franko Goldman awards in performance, as well as multiple career development grants. Before joining the conservatory faculty at Peabody Conservatory, he served on the faculty of the preparatory division, helping to develop a more comprehensive and cohesive jazz studies program as co-coordinator.

Meister has performed and/or recorded with the world-renowned musicians Larry Willis, Sid Simmons, Benito Gonzalez, Warren Wolf, Buddy Wachter, Yotam Silberstein, Marin Alsop, Jamie Laredo, Alex Norris, Byron Landham, among many. He has received several awards and grants, most recently the 2012 Individual Artist Award for non-classical composition from the Maryland State Arts Council for his upcoming debut album, "Septagon", featuring Gary Thomas, Paul Bollenback, Marc Copland, and Ralph Peterson.

A 25-year veteran New York artist, Phil Haynes is featured on more than 60 LP and CD releases by numerous American and European record labels. His diverse published credentials include many of the seminal musicians of this generation: saxophonists Anthony Braxton, Ellery Eskelin and David Liebman; trumpeters Dave Douglas, Herb Robertson and Paul Smoker; bassists Mark Dresser, Ken Filiano and Drew Gress; keyboard artists David Kikoski, Denman Maroney, Michelle Rosewoman and Steve Rudolph; vocalists Theo Bleckman, Nick Horner and Hank Roberts; violinist Mark Feldman, as well as the composers collective Joint Venture.

Current Haynes touring ensembles feature his "romantic folk Americana" string band Free Country, featuring vocalist/cellist Hank Roberts; "tough tenor trio" No Fast Food, with NEA Jazz Master David Liebman; "power organ trio" The Hammond Brothers; and the classic piano trio, Day Dream, with Steve Rudolph.

Jazz at Bucknell is a chamber series conceived to present international modern masters and young visionaries, showcasing the entire tradition of jazz, from standards to the Avant-Garde, with an eye on artists who continue the innovative tradition of the music with their personal approaches to sound, style and composition.

Concerts scheduled for the fall semester include performances by Lee Konitz on Sept. 4 and John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet on Oct. 2.

Contact: Division of Communications