Thomasville Times Enterprise

February 12, 2014

TEF presents Sharon Isbin and friends in concert

Staff report

THOMASVILLE — She has been called the pre-eminent guitarist of our time. On Saturday, the Thomasville Entertainment Foundation will present multiple Grammy Award winner Sharon Isbin performing in Guitar Passions. Isbin will be joined by master guitarists Stanley Jordan and Romero Lubambo as they explore global musical influences, including jazz, Latin and Brazilian traditions.

 The concert will start at 8 p.m. at the Thomasville Center for the Arts auditorium.

 “Ms. Isbin is an incomparable musician who pushes the boundaries of her instrument,” TEF President Mary Kathryn Sibley said. “This performance would certainly make a romantic and memorable Valentine for a loved one.”

 Isbin is acclaimed for her extraordinary lyricism, technique and versatility displayed in more than 25 recordings ranging from music of the Baroque period to modern jazz-fusion.

Her latest recording for Sony, Sharon Isbin & Friends: Guitar Passions, rose to number one on and features collaborations with rock/jazz guitarists Steve Vai, Steve Morse and Nancy Wilson of Heart, as well as Jordan and Lubambo. Her 2010 recording, Journey to the New World, topped Billboard charts for 63 consecutive weeks and was ranked a #1 bestselling classical CD on iTunes and Amazon. Isbin gave a classical performance at the 2010 Grammy ceremony and took home an award for the album.

Named “Best Classical Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine, Isbin has nevertheless achieved phenomenal success and critical acclaim across many genres and platforms and with seemingly universal appeal. She has appeared as soloist with more than 170 orchestras, playing to sold-out crowds on the world’s most prestigious stages

On the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Isbin performed at Ground Zero for the internationally televised memorial. In 2009 she entertained President and Mrs. Obama at the White House.

 The soundtrack for The Oscar-winning film “The Departed” included a solo performance by Isbin and a documentary of the artist, “Sharon Isbin: Troubadour,” will premier this year. Isbin is frequently invited to appear on national radio programs such as “All Things Considered” and A Prairie Home Companion. She’s been the subject of profiles on “CBS Sunday Morning,” A&E  and in magazines and newspapers ranging from The Wall Street Journal to People.

Born in Minneapolis, Isbin began her guitar studies at age nine in Italy while her father, a nuclear scientist, was working there. Legendary classical guitarists Andrés Segovia and Oscar Ghiglia and noted keyboardist Rosalyn Tureck were among her teachers. Isbin holds a Master’s degree from the Yale School of Music. She authored the Classical Guitar Answer Book and established the first guitar department at The Julliard School, where she remains as director and instructor.

 Isbin the innovator collaborates with another musical inventor in Guitar Passions: Stanley Jordan. Nominated four times for a Grammy Award, Jordan began his musical journey early on with classical piano lessons before shifting to the guitar at age 11.

In 1976, while still a high school student, Jordan played with Quincy Jones and tied for first place as a soloist at the Reno International Jazz Festival. While studying at Princeton University, Jordan performed with Dizzie Gillespie and Benny Carter.

 Success and critical praise came quickly, thanks to Jordan’s innovative “touch technique” in which both hands finger the fretboard. This technique allows Jordan to play melody and chords simultaneously, even on two guitars or guitar and piano at once. The result is music layered with depth and emotion. Says Jordan, “I think of it as a single instrument, but one with a wide range of tonal colors—that’s why I do it.”

 The release of his album Magic Touch in 1985 launched Jordan into the public sphere. This revolutionary project helped remake Blue Note Records into a contemporary force in jazz music and established the young musician as an exciting new voice on the electric guitar.

Jordan’s touch technique delivered a fresh take on rock, pop and jazz tunes, and the public devoured it: the album sat atop Billboard’s jazz chart for nearly a year and sold half a million copies in the U.S.

 Like Isbin, Jordan isn’t hemmed in by tradition but prefers to build bridges between musical worlds, as in his 17-minute arrangement of “Ravel’s Bolero”filtered through rock, Latin, African and urban rhythms (Bolero, for Arista Records).

 The Arizona resident is a favorite on the festival circuit and has appeared in 60 countries on six continents alongside a Who’s Who of the world. His current passion, music therapy, takes him into hospitals, schools and lecture halls where Jordan promotes the healing aspects of music.

Romero Lubambo rounds out this trio performance with his distinctive combination of Brazilian and jazz traditions. The Brazil native arrived in New York City in 1985 and quickly established his credentials as a reliable session and touring guitarist with a command of multiple styles.

From the cool, sophisticated rhythms of Brazil to hard bop jazz, Lubambo is an uncommonly gifted soloist and improviser.

He has performed and recorded with an impressive list of artists from a wide range of musical traditions, including Dianne Reeves, Michael Brecker, Kathleen Battle, Yo-Yo Ma, Herbie Mann, Wynton Marsalis, Harry Belafonte and Gato Barbieri.

 Lubambo also composes and performs with his Brazilian jazz ensemble, Trio Da Paz, formed with Nilson Matta and Dudeka da Fonseca.

 Considered by some critics to be the “best practitioner of his craft in the world today,” Lubambo draws lush praise from reviewers who regard his performances and compositions as “masterful,” “seductive,” “brilliant” and “inventive.”

 Tickets for the Guitar Passions concert are $35 for adults and $15 for students. Phone the TEF box office at 229-226-7404 or purchase online at

 Other upcoming concerts for TEF's current season are the New York Chamber Soloists on March 20 and jazz/pop vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur on April 3. 

 Thomasville Entertainment Foundation is a non-profit, volunteer-led organization founded in 1936.

In addition to offering an annual concert series of internationally acclaimed artists, TEF provies scholarships for outstanding students in the performing arts, student tickets, and educational outreach programs for children and youth.