The series includes the Western New York debut of guitar phenomenon Esteban; “rumba flamenco” guitarist extraordinaire Jesse Cook; Buffalo’s own groundbreakers Spyro Gyra; holiday celebrations with original Irish tenor John McDermott and vocal sensation Jane Monheit; Ireland’s famed Dervish; electric bass superstar Victor Wooten and concludes with the Celtic flair of Cherish the Ladies.
Tickets for the Great Performers series go on sale August 6 at 9:00 a.m. Continuing to be one of the best entertainment values in the area, the Performing Arts Center has priced all shows in the Great Performers Series between $28 and $32. With the Flex Pack, patrons can purchase any three or more Great Performers shows for only $27 each. Tickets may be purchased at the Rockwell Hall Box Office, 1300 Elmwood Ave. by calling 716-878-3005 or online at www.buffalostate.edu/pac. Box Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Esteban makes his Western New York debut to open the Great Performers series on Friday, October 19. With his trademark bolero hat, sunglasses and deep love of Spanish guitar, Esteban has gained legions of fans on his numerous TV appearances. Citing Segovia as his mentor, Esteban is one of the world’s most prolific guitarists of our time, with more than two million albums sold worldwide. He is a classically trained guitarist who infuses flamenco and ethnic flair into his music, and is credited with making Spanish-influenced acoustic guitar music accessible to the masses, and helping to revitalize interest in the instrument. Accompanied by his stellar band, Esteban’s Spanish-influenced acoustic guitar is both uplifting and soothing.
The Performing Arts Center is thrilled to welcome back guitarist extraordinaire Jesse Cook on Friday, November 2. This Canadian sensation’s exotic “Rumba Flamenco” is an intoxicating, “gypsy-esque” blend of jazz and Afro-Caribbean styles. He’s jammed with the Gipsy Kings and Cassandra Wilson—and you might have heard a track on HBO’s Sex and the City. Seamlessly fusing flamenco and rumba music with a host of other world music influences from the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and beyond, this musical nomad creates a cross-cultural sonic stew full of expressive arrangements and passionate riffs. On stage, Jesse Cook enraptures audiences with his jaw-dropping technique, easy-going charisma and intoxicating music, drawing throngs of fans to sing and dance along. Accompanied by his superb band, this will be yet another wonderful evening of music with this remarkable artist.
After three decades, 5,000 concerts, nine Grammy nominations, and with over 11 million records sold, with one platinum and two gold records, you'd think Spyro Gyra would rest on its laurels. Not so. Since their beginnings here in Buffalo nearly 30 years ago, Spyro Gyra has set the gold standard for the smooth jazz genre. On Saturday, November 17 Spyro Gyra will bring their amazing live show to Rockwell Hall. The lineup features Spyro Gyra co-founder Jay Beckenstein on saxophone, Tom Schuman on keyboards, Julio Fernandaz on guitar, Scott Ambush on bass and Bonny B. on drums and percussion.
Continuing its love affair with Canadian celtic music, The Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall is pleased to present original Irish Tenor John McDermott on Thursday, December 6 in a special holiday show entitled John McDermott & Friends: A Family Christmas. As the Toronto Star exclaims, “it’s not really Christmas until McDermott sings.” With musical roots in both Ireland and Scotland, McDermott’s songs showcase his innate understanding and facility with traditional folk melodies as well as more contemporary stylings. His music conjures up a vivid emotional landscape; his simple but richly textured arrangements allow him to weave deeply moving narratives. Canada's premiere tenor has found a home as an international recording star and household name. With timeless classics such as "Danny Boy" and "Love is a Voyage", John's rich voice transcends classical and contemporary music into a riveting and joyous celebration!
Velvet-voiced chanteuse Jane Monheit will also celebrate the holidays at the Performing Arts Center with a concert on Friday, December 7. The last time Jane Monheit performed at Rockwell Hall, she was a 24-year-old prodigy, a young jazz singer from Long Island with a phenomenal voice who had only just burst upon the national music scene. Since then, Jane Monheit has found her own voice as a neo-traditional pop singer with a jazz sensibility and a fascination with the Brazilian beat. On Surrender, her seventh CD, Monheit is in top vocal form, interpreting a selection of pop songs and standards woven together with dreamy bossa nova rhythms.
The current standard bearer of traditional Irish music, Dervish will make their first Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall debut on Friday, February 22. Dervish concert performances are a myriad of tones and moods ranging from high energy tunes, played with fluidity and intuitiveness, to beautifully measured songs, from charming lyrics of life and love, to inspiring melodies that lift audiences from their seats. All the elements are drawn together by lead singer Cathy Jordan’s masterful stage-presence. Her distinctive and expressive voice is backed by fiddle, mandola, flutes, guitars, accordion, harmonica, bouzouki and other instruments. Songs are performed in both English and Gaelic and Dervish always work hard to present Irish traditional music with a touch of pizzazz, while holding fast to the age-old true Irish spirit.
On Saturday, April 5 the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall presents living music legend and pioneer Victor Wooten in a concert spectacular. Victor Wooten is recognized as one of the world's greatest electric bassists. Considered by many to be the most influential bassist since Jaco Pastorius, Victor is best known for his work with the Grammy-winning supergroup B?la Fleck & The Flecktones. Establishing a solid solo career and backed by his own stellar band, Wooten’s jaw-dropping fretwork and vocals make a strong case for the bass as a lead instrument. In fact, his music goes so far beyond conventional ideas about the instrument that listeners often forget they're listening to nothing but bass.
The Performing Arts Center is pleased to welcome back Cherish the Ladies on Friday, April 18. Cherish the Ladies have grown from a one-time concert concept into an Irish traditional music sensation, literally the most successful and sought-after Irish-American group in Celtic music history. Taking their name from a traditional Irish jig, the group initially won recognition as the first and only all-women traditional Irish band. In a relatively short time, they soon established themselves as musicians and performers without peer and have won many thousands of listeners and fans of their music. With their unique blend of virtuosi instrumental talents, beautiful vocals, captivating arrangements and stunning step dancing, this powerhouse group will raise the roof off Rockwell Hall.
The 2007-2008 Great Performers Series is sponsored by M&T Bank and WBFO.