From Carnaval to St. Paddy’s Day, musical parties abound
by Brett Campbell
Really, if you love music, you might as well just get a sleeping bag and head over to the UO’s newly renovated music school and camp out for the next week or so. This end of term musical explosion looks especially rich. World music fans can catch Irish music and dance on March 6, when the Irish Cultural Festival opens with Chulrua playing traditional jigs, slides, reels and more, plus dancer Maldon Meehan and singer/multi-instrumentalist Gerry Carthy on everything from banjo to sax to mandolin to fiddle. On March 8, Scottish singer/storyteller Rich Hill and the women’s a cappella ensemble Kitchen Ceilidh play traditional Gaelic music at the UO’s Collier House. And on March 13, the school’s East European Folk Music Ensemble plays traditional music from Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria to accompany folk dances in a free show at Agate Hall.
Contemporary classical fans should check out the Oregon Percussion Ensemble’s March 7 Frank Zappa tribute at Beall Concert Hall, which also includes music by Edgard Varese (the classic Ionisation) and more — including an original Zappa tribute derived by OPE director Charles Dowd. One of the Zappa works will be performed by the University Percussion Ensemble in their March 15 concert in Room 163, which also features music of the great California ultra modernist Henry Cowell, Carlos Chavez and more. Also on the 7th, Future Music Oregon presents electronic music by Beijing composer Zhang Ziaofu, which uses sounds of nature and traditional Chinese instruments among other sound sources. And on March 13, Idit Shner, Jesse Cloninger and Gabriel Sanchez play classical sax music by rarely-heard composers.
For older sounds, check out the final concert in the UO’s Chamber Music Series on March 8, when Vienna’s Altenberg Trio plays music of Haydn, Mendelssohn and Krzysztof Meyer at Beall. And looking even farther back, on March 13, the UO’s Collegium Musicum plays music by J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart and lesser known classical and Baroque composers.
If the security guards make you move, you can bring your bedroll downtown, the better to be near the Shedd for its annual three-day Jazz Party this Friday through Sunday. Director and clarinet master Ken Peplowski has signed up some of the nation’s finest trad jazz talent, from venerable guitar master Bucky Pizzarelli to saxman Harry Allen, pianist Bill Mays, Portland’s Dave Frishberg and more veterans of a dazzling array of celebrated gigs and recording sessions. The sessions range from various small combos to big band, so it’s best to check the Shedd website for the full menu.
The Shedd also sports a popular folk show, the guitar and fiddle duo Jay Ungar and Molly Mason (of public radio and TV, “Ashokan Farewell” fame) on March 13 and, on March 18, a superb celebration of one of the planet’s most mesmerizing musical traditions, Hawaiian slack-key guitar, featuring ukulele and slack-key experts George Kahumoku, Dennis Kamakahi and David Kamakah, along with the spellbinding falsetto singer Richard Ho’opi’i and dancers Ululani Ho’opi’I and Nancy Kahumoku — a multifaceted look at a beautiful music and dance culture, and a welcome summer breeze in the middle of the long Northwest winter chill.
For a look at jazz’s future, catch Douglas Detrick’s AnyWhen Ensemble at the Jazz Station on March 15. The irrepressibly inventive young trumpet star unveils an unusual new ensemble somewhat reminiscent of one of Dave Douglas’s myriad aggregations, this one featuring Hashem Assadullahi on saxes, UO bassoonist Steve Vacchi, cellist Shirley Hunt and drummer Ryan Biesack. And this Friday, March 6 finds the Now! Trio, featuring members of that fine progressive jazz group Eleven Eyes, at Jo Federigo’s, which the next night hosts the return of Ben Darwish from Portland (where he’s gigging aplenty) for a CD release party for his trio’s new album, Ode to Consumerism.
Jazz, along with Motown and gospel tunes, even finds its way into the Eugene Concert Choir’s March 7 concert at the Hult Center’s Silva Hall, which also features the Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble and local legends Vickie Brabham, Bill Hulings, Shirley Andress and more. And finally, even though Lent is already here, you can party like it was still Mardi Gras and you were down in Rio. On March 5, Eugene’s own Samba Ja plays at Cozmic Pizza along with Oakland’s samba/reggae funk outfit Loyd Family Players. And on March 13 Cozmic hosts a Carnaval celebration with Samba Ja, Sun Bossa and a host of other musicians and performers.