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Signature Series brings Americas best jazz vibraphonist in project inspired by Cuba

Stefon HarrisBROWNSVILLE, TEXAS-JANUARY 7, 2013-What’s the shortest distance to stellar entertainment at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College Arts Center?  It’s “90 Miles,” a standout jazz trio and its collaborative salute to the island nation only 90 miles from Key West.

In a 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 performance with Cuban accents, co-leaders Stefon Harris on vibraphone, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and David Sanchez on saxophone promise a range of jazz expression from the recent “Ninety Miles” album – and beyond. Whether recording in Havana or on their current national tour, the talented trio uses a blend of traditional bebop, Latin and Afro-Caribbean elements to bridge a gap of politics, language and culture that can be wider than the lines on a map.

A four-time Grammy nominee, Harris has been called "one of the most important young artists in jazz," and was the 2011 Latin Jazz Vibes Player of The Year. Sanchez was born in Puerto Rico, went to New York as a teenager, and won a Grammy for his saxophone work in 2004.  Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Payton hails from New Orleans. Their individual work as composers and band leaders includes many cross-cultural projects and what critics have called “adventurous collaborations.”

Dr. Dan Barnard, Arts Center Director, said that Harris, Payton and Sanchez are all outstanding artists in their own right, coming together on a special project that will delight a Rio Grande Valley audience.

“These are each excellent musicians,” Barnard said. “To have any one of them here by themselves would be great, and to have all of them together in this project is truly phenomenal.”

Sponsored by H-E-B, the performance is part of the Signature Series commitment to offering high-quality arts entertainment – with a special theme this year of “tradition” in all its varied forms.

“The H-E-B family has been a long time supporter of The Arts Center, and we thank them for their continuous and generous support of fine arts education and performance,” said Irv Downing, UTB Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

H-E-B’s support of the Signature Series season is not the company’s first act of generosity on campus. 

Inside The Arts Center, the lobby and gallery is named for Mary Elizabeth Holdsworth Butt, a former Rio Grande Valley resident who championed causes from mental health care to libraries and the mother of H-E-B  Chairman and CEO Charles Butt. The $1 million gift is the largest gift to The Arts Center and was made during construction.  In 2000, the company also made a large donation of $100,000 for a School of Education scholarship.

Tickets for “90 Miles” and other individual performances are  available at or by calling 956-UTB-TKTS, 882-8587.

Patrons are encouraged to purchase early, as limited lower-priced seating is expected to sell out quickly. A special five show package, one ticket for each of the five shows is available for the balcony and orchestra at a special price of $150 for the balcony and $175 for orchestra.

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