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BILL EVANS FEST FEATURES PIANIST GEORGE WINSTON
HAMMOND -- Southeastern Louisiana
University will honor the late seven-time Grammy Award winning jazz pianist
Bill Evans at the Second Annual Bill Evans Jazz Festival, Feb 20-22.
The three-day tribute to the 1950 Southeastern graduate will showcase the
Eddie Gomez Trio, pianist George Winston, guitarist Curt Warren, and the
SLU Jazz Ensemble.
The festival opens on February 20 with
a 2 p.m. “all-Evans” concert by guitarist Curt Warren. The free concert
is scheduled for the Music Recital Hall.
An innovative guitarist, Warren
began his career with singer Frankie Laine in Las Vegas, then moved to
Hawaii for stints with Teresa Brewer, Tony Martin, and the Honolulu Symphony.
From 1974 to 1978, he was featured with the U.S. Navy’s official jazz ensemble,
the Commodores, in Washington, D.C. In 1978, he joined the music faculty
of the University of Texas at El Paso, teaching jazz guitar and jazz improvisation.
He continues to work with his own trio in jazz clubs in El Paso, where
he has played with artists such as Herb Ellis, Bill Watrous, Carl Fontana,
Rob McConnell, and Bud Shank.
On the evening of February 20, the
Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts joins the Bill Evans Fest with
a concert at the downtown Hammond theater by Grammy Award-winning pianist
George Winston. The 7:30 p.m. concert is part of the Columbia’s 2003 season,
In 1982 Winston released “December,”
which has sold more than four millioncopies, and another platinum-selling
album, “Winter into Spring.” He wrote the music for a 1986 children's album
based on the story of “The Velveteen Rabbit,” which was narrated by actress
Winston maintains an active touring
schedule, performing more than a hundred solo piano concerts annually in
the United States, Asia and Europe.
Tickets for his concert will
go on sale February 14 at the Columbia box office in the theater’s lobby
at 220 E. Thomas Street. Tickets are also available online through TicketWeb,
www.ticketweb.com. The box office, 985-543-4371, is open from noon to 5
p.m., weekdays, and one hour before performance. Tickets are $30, Orchestra
1; $25, Orchestra 2; $30, Loge; $25, Balcony 1; $20, Balcony 2.
Winston’s Dancing Cat Productions
will sponsor a food drive for the Tangi Food Pantry in conjunction with
the concert. Patrons are encouraged to bring a donation of canned food
to place in collection baskets at the theater entrances. Sponsoring a local
food drive is a tradition at all Winston concerts.
The award-winning Southeastern Jazz
Ensemble, directed by Allen Zurcher, will pay tribute to Evans on February
21 with a 7:30 p.m. concert in the Music Recital Hall.
“While Evans is remembered primarily
as the leader of a jazz trio, many of his compositions have been transcribed
for larger ensembles,” said trombonist and Southeastern alumnus Ron Nethercutt.
As a member of the Southeastern music faculty, Nethercutt, now on staff
at the University of the Philippines, amassed an archive of Evans material
and memorabilia, which is housed at Southeastern’s Sims Memorial Library.
Nethercutt also produced “Homecoming,” a recording of Evan’s November 1979
concert at Southeastern’s Pottle Music Building Auditorium, which was released
by Milestone Records.
The festival will conclude
with a concert at 7:30 p.m., February 22, at the Columbia by the Eddie
Gomez trio, featuring Gomez, Stefan Karlsson on piano, and Jimmy Cobb on
“In 1966, at the young age of
21, Gomez began an 11-year tenure with Bill Evans,” Nethercutt said. “He
left Evans’ trio in 1977 to begin a varied career with some of the most
noted jazz artists in the world, including Chick Corea, Miles Davis, McCoy
Tyner and Sarah Vaughn.”
A native of Puerto Rico, Gomez
grew up in New York. He began studying bass at the age of 11 and attended
the High School of Music and Art before entering the prestigious Julliard
School of Music. Gomez can be heard on hundreds of recordings and spans
jazz, classical, Latin, and popular music.
Gomez and his trio will also
present a master class for Southeastern students at 1 p.m., February 22,
in the Music Recital Hall.
Southeastern organized the first
Bill Evans Jazz Festival in 2002 with a grant from the Louisiana Division
of the Arts. One of the festival’s highlights was the unveiling of an Evans
mural, “Turn Out the Stars” by Edward Pramuk, commissioned for the Music
Recital Hall. This year’s festival was also funded in part by a Louisiana
Division of the Arts grant.
“In letters to his Southeastern
professors years after he graduated, Bill Evans expressed his deep appreciation
for their patience, perseverance, and personal attention,” Nethercutt said.
“When he returned to his alma mater 30 years after graduation, he told
the audience that his last two years at Southeastern had been the happiest
of his life.”
Southeastern named Evans its first
“Alumnus of the Year” in 1969. He died in 1980.
Additional information concerning
the Bill Evans Festival is available online at www.billevans.info/fest
or by calling the Department of Music and Dramatic Arts at 985-549- 2184.
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