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Buffalo State Performing Arts Center Announces Great Performers Series

Buffalo State Performing Arts Center Announces Great Performers Series

Tickets go on sale August 18 at 9:00 a.m.

Posted: August 4, 2016

The Buffalo State Performing Arts Center has announced the 2016–2017 Great Performers Series presented by M&T Bank.

The Great Performers Series features world-class artists in the intimate setting of Rockwell Hall on the Buffalo State campus. The series includes superstar jazz group The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman; country group Shenandoah; saxophonist Richard Elliot; next-generation jazz stars Vincent Ingala, Jonathan Fritzen, and Cindy Bradley; Christmas with the Celtic Tenors; and folk artists Leo Kottke and Keller Williams.

Tickets for the series go on sale Thursday, August 18, at 9:00 a.m.



The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman
Friday, October 21, at 8:00 p.m.

Guitarist and composer Russ Freeman founded the Rippingtons in 1985. Under Freeman's production, the group has released 22 albums, all of which have attained top 5 Billboard status, with 5 of them reaching #1. Jazziz magazine heralded their debut album, Moonlighting, as "the number-one most-influential contemporary jazz album of all time." The pioneering, Grammy-nominated group is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the release its 22nd recording, True Stories. The album shot right to #1 on the Billboard jazz chart. This tour includes the return of original saxophonist Brandon Fields.

Thursday, November 10, at 8:00 p.m.

Fueled by Marty Raybon’s distinctive vocals and the band’s skilled musicianship, Shenandoah became well known for delivering such hits as “Two Dozen Roses,” “Church on Cumberland Road,” and “Next to You, Next to Me,” as well as such achingly beautiful classics as “I Want to be Loved Like That,” and the Grammy-winning duet with Alison Krauss, “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart.” The group's legacy continues as original members Raybon and Mike McGuire reunite to launch a new chapter in Shenandoah’s storied career.

Richard Elliot 
Thursday, November 17, at 8:00 p.m.

On November 17, Buffalo State welcomes saxophonist Richard Elliot. Elliot has been blowing audiences away with his soulfully robust playing for more than 30 years. He was a member of the funk band Tower of Power, handling tenor sax duties for five years with the group during the 1980s. His solo career took off when he remade the Percy Sledge classic "When a Man Loves a Woman." While working on Summer Horns in 2013, Elliot had the opportunity to revisit his roots as one of the founding members of Tower of Power by performing "So Very Hard To Go."

Vincent Ingala, Jonathan Fritzen, and Cindy Bradley
Friday, December 9, at 8:00 p.m.

On Friday, December 9, the next generation of jazz greats visits the Performing Arts Center. Saxophonist Vincent Ingala, keyboardist Jonathan Fritzen, and Buffalo's own trumpet player Cindy Bradley will take the stage and showcase their musical prowess. 

Ingala has blasted into an exciting stratosphere of his own making since his 2010 critically acclaimed debut album, North End Soul. One of the fastest emerging contemporary jazz recording artists in recent history, the multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer is still only in his early twenties. The charismatic saxophonist was named Billboard Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year in 2012 and Sirius XM Watercolors Breakthrough Artist of the Year in 2013. He has earned three number one hits on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Chart, five singles in the Billboard Smooth Jazz Top 10, as well as an unprecedented 25 weeks at #1 on’s Top 50 Independent Chart.

Fritzen has quickly risen up the smooth jazz ranks with emotionally engaged music filled with melodic hooks, layered textures, and genuine musicianship. Considered one of the hottest composers and keyboard players in instrumental jazz, his latest work, Fritzenized became a chart topper before it was even released. It is the Swedish American’s fifth solo CD and follows the critically acclaimed Magical from which the title cut blasted a path to #1 on every smooth jazz airplay chart on the planet.

Buffalo native Cindy Bradley is not only keeping the trumpet and flugelhorn hip, she’s also continuing her knack for picking spot-on album titles. Calling her 2009 debut Bloom proved prophetic, as the multi-talented performer blossomed into a powerful and charismatic presence on the radio and contemporary jazz festival circuit. Along the way, Bradley has performed everywhere from the River Raisin’ Jazz Festival in Monroe, Michigan, to the Dubai Jazz Fest in the United Arab Emirates. She won Best New Artist at the American Smooth Jazz Awards and was named Debut Artist of the Year by the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival and Smooth Jazz News. How to follow up? Like a lot of the most exciting moments in life, it’s sometimes just best to go Unscripted—the perfect title for the whimsical spirit and stylistic diversity that drives Bradley's new album.

Christmas with the Celtic Tenors
Saturday, December 17, at 8:00 p.m.

On December 17, the holiday spirit will be in the air with Christmas with the Celtic Tenors.  The unique voices, appeal, and wit of Daryl Simpson, James Nelson, and Matthew Gilsenan, combine for a thoroughly uplifting experience. In Christmas with the Celtic Tenors, their voices and personalities shine, alongside their undeniable Celtic charm, beautifully weaving the songs of the season throughout a captivating performance. In 2000, following an impromptu audition at EMI in London, the group was signed on the spot to an international record deal, a highly unusual event that was the talk of the music industry. The Celtic Tenors have established themselves as the most successful classical crossover artists ever to emerge from Ireland.

Leo Kottke and Keller Williams
Saturday, February 4, at 8:00 p.m.

The first show of the new year presents two folk legends: Leo Kottke and Keller Williams. The very special evening of music, which will feature a solo set by each artist and finds Keller performing a rare loop-less acoustic show, will provide spontaneous collaborations between Williams and Kottke.

Williams is best known as a one-man band for his exciting and unpredictable live stage show which find the artist singing his compositions and choice cover songs while playing accompaniment on acoustic guitar and creating on-the-fly samples. Recent years have found Keller fronting a handful of collaboration projects—The Travelin’ McCourys, Keller and The Keels, More Than a Little, and the Keller Williams Trio. For “Shut the Folk Up and Listen,” Keller goes back to his earliest roots: stripped down and loop-less with just him and his guitar and alongside one of his biggest musical heroes.

Famed acoustic player Kottke is known for a fingerpicking style that draws on blues, jazz, and folk music, and for syncopated, polyphonic melodies. Kottke overcame a series of personal obstacles, including partial loss of hearing and a nearly career-ending bout with tendon damage in his right hand to emerge as a widely recognized master of his instrument. In concert, Kottke intersperses humorous and often bizarre monologues with vocal and instrumental selections from throughout his career, played solo on his 6- and 12- string guitars.


Tickets for the series go on sale Thursday, August 18, at 9:00 a.m. and all shows are priced between $35 and $45. Patrons aged 60 and older take $3 off the price of upper tier tickets. One-hour prior to curtain, full-time students with proper ID can purchase one ticket for $15, subject to availability. Tickets may be purchased at the Rockwell Hall Box Office, Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; by calling (716) 878-3005; or online.

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