Willimantic, CT — One of Connecticut’s true music legends — rhythm and blues singer, legendary rock promoter and philanthropist David Foster of Windham — is partnering with Eastern Connecticut State University to sponsor a special series of four fundraising concerts this season.
“Jazzin’ it Up at Eastern” will feature four world-class acts in support of a scholarship fund for Windham High School graduates to attend Eastern Connecticut State University.
“We are so pleased to partner with David Foster on this project,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Giving Windham’s young people the financial support to attend Eastern will be a life-changing event for these students.”
The Kevin Crosbie Memorial Scholarship, established in honor of the late publisher of the Willimantic Chronicle, was created by David and Marilyn Foster, Kevin’s widow Pat Crosbie and Eileen Ossen of the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation. All ticket proceeds for the concert series will go towards the Kevin Crosbie Memorial Scholarship.
“Kevin was a great friend and a tireless advocate for our local community,” said Foster, in announcing the concert series. “The scholarship fund we created in Kevin’s memory is a way to keep his legacy alive. He would be pleased to know that we are helping local students achieve their dream of a college education. This concert series will significantly add to the Crosbie Scholarship endowment.”
Foster’s band — the Mohegan Sun All-Stars — will open the series on Oct. 22. Their show marks the 45th anniversary of the Shaboo Inn in Mansfield, CT, where Foster showcased a Who’s Who of famous musical acts from 1971–82, including Dire Straits, BB King, Muddy Waters, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Elvis Costello, The Police and many more.
Foster began his career as a singer at age 14. In 1979, he assembled a group of musicians to form the Shaboo All-Stars. Today, Foster and his friends are still cranking out their trademark rhythm and blues as “David Foster and the Mohegan Sun All-Stars.”
In addition to Foster and his band, three veteran jazz acts will complete the series — Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, renowned guitarist Pat Metheny and legendary jazz quintet Spyro Gyra. The Mohegan Sun All-Stars perform on Oct. 22, Sandoval will appear on Nov. 5, Metheny and his band will play on Jan. 13, and Spyro Gyra will complete the series on May 20. All shows begin at 8 p.m.
A protégé of the legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval began studying classical trumpet at the age of 12, but it didn’t take him long to catch the excitement of the jazz world. He has since evolved into one of the world’s most acknowledged guardians of jazz trumpet and flugelhorn, as well as a renowned classical artist, pianist and composer. Sandoval has been awarded 10 Grammy Awards, and has also received six Billboard Awards and an Emmy Award.
By the age of 15, Pat Metheny was working regularly with the best jazz musicians in his hometown of Kansas City. He first burst on the international jazz scene in 1974, crafting a trademark playing style that blended the fluid sound of horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility. Over the years, Metheny has won countless polls as “Best Jazz Guitarist”; produced three gold records — “Still Life (Talking),” “Letter from Home” and “Secret Story”; and won 20 Grammy Awards in 12 different categories.
From their humble beginnings in Buffalo, NY, jazz icons Spyro Gyra have earned an international audience over their 40-year career, selling more than 10 million albums and playing more than 5,000 shows on five continents.
All four groups will play in the 400-seat Concert Hall in Eastern’s brand-new Fine Arts Instructional Center. This 118,000 square-foot facility is home to Eastern’s music, theatre and visual arts programs and features three major performance spaces (the 400-seat Concert Hall; a 254-seat Proscenium Theatre; and a 125-seat Studio Theatre).
“I cannot thank David Foster enough for his generosity in organizing and financially supporting the concert series,” said Ken DeLisa, Eastern’s vice president for institutional advancement. “By paying for the artists and supporting the promotional activities surrounding the series, David is making it possible for all concert proceeds to go towards the Kevin Crosbie Memorial Scholarship, which will defray the cost of attending Eastern for a number of students from the Willimantic community.”