Bates concerts bringing Grammy-winning jazz, classical Chinese music

LEWISTON – The 2003-04 Bates College concert series concludes in January with a pair of distinctive performances.

The series presents Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove and his band at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, in the Bates College Chapel, College Street.

Italian vocalist Roberta Gambarini opens for Hargrove. The singer placed third in the 1998 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition soon after her arrival in the United States.

The series will end with a program of classical Chinese music. Multi-instrumentalist Tian Qing and Zhang Shan, a virtuoso on the stringed zheng, will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St.

Hargrove’s latest recording is “Hard Groove.” Still in his early 30s, this musician inspired by saxman David “Fathead” Newman and discovered by Wynton Marsalis is known as one of the most versatile and hard-working players in jazz.

“Hard Groove” is a collaboration with such hip-hop and R&B names as D’Angelo, Erykah Badu and Q-Tip. Hargrove’s nine albums as leader include the Grammy-winning Afro-Cuban landmark “Habana.” He also shared a Grammy with Michael Brecker and Herbie Hancock for “Directions in Music.”

Gambarini is a native of Italy who’s been compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Carmen McCrae. Born into a jazz-loving family in Turin, Gambarini was performing in clubs around northern Italy by age 17. In 1984, she took third place in a national jazz broadcast competition, which led to performances at festivals throughout Italy.

In 1998, she came to the United States on a scholarship from the New England Conservatory in Boston. She has appeared at the Schomburg Center with the Jazz Legacy Ensemble and in a major Kennedy Center tribute to Thelonius Monk.

A week after their concert, Bates presents Tian and Zhang in “The Zheng: A Concert of Classical Chinese Music.”

This program will explore a diversity of forms, from courtly music to melodies from the autonomous Central Asian region of Uighur.

One of China’s foremost music scholars, Tian is a leading authority on Buddhist music. A master of classical Chinese instruments, he has lectured and performed extensively in Asia and Europe. The Bates concert marks his first U.S. visit.

Zhang is an emerging master of the zheng. This instrument, dating back 2,500 years, resembles a zither, with more than 20 strings on an unfretted wooden body. Unlike the zither, its player can obtain a haunting vocality by bending the pitch of the plucked strings. A winner of numerous awards, Zhang has often performed as a soloist since 1989 and is known for her precise but bold interpretations of classical material.

Admission for each concert is $8 for the general public, $5 for students and seniors. For reservations and more information, people may call 786-6135.

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