New developments in music pushed to the forefront in Eugene
By Brett Campbell
|Dead Kenny Gs
Past, present and possible future collide in the final week of one of the most exciting Oregon Bach Festivals in memory. Thursday, July 7, the young English conductor/keyboard player Matthew Halls ã top candidate to replace festival founding artistic director Rilling when the latter retires in a couple years ã shows his stuff in Handels grand Ode on St. Cecilias Day and other gorgeous celebrations by English composers Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten at the Hult Centers Silva Hall. On Friday, July 8, another rising star, pianist Shai Wosner, returns to the UOs Beall Hall to play more Handel and music of Brahms and Beethoven, including the latters “Appassionata” sonata. On Saturday at Central Lutheran Church, Eastman School of Music prof David Higgs plays some of J.S. Bachs greatest keyboard music, including several preludes and fugues, a trio sonata and more.
The festival is a UO program, of course, and the school is also hosting a Big Brass music festival with tuba-ular and euphonium-ous sounds July 16-17 at Beall and the music building amphitheater.
Several other concerts around town this month offer glimpses of promising future developments. A pair of boundary-crossing instrumentalists converge Thursday, July 7, when composer Michael “hyper-accordionist” Ward-Bergeman joins mbira master Richard Crandell at Cozmic Pizza. The former plays “an acoustic accordion with extended range and expressive capabilities” that caught the ear of the great composer Osvaldo, who used it on several of his compositions. Ward-Bergeman himself has received commissions from Carnegie Hall and other prestigious classical institutions. Crandell, who used to drive the bus for Thomas Mapfumos band, won some acclaim a few years back for his dazzling, minimalist-influenced explorations on the Zimbabwean mbira, or thumb piano. Each is worth hearing individually; together they should form a combustible compound.
Maybe Michael Ward-Bergeman should tote his futuristic new instrument over to Opus VII gallery, which this month features sounds and images of various musical sound sources, from John Brombaughs famous organs to David Gussets violins to master producer Billy Barnetts recording equipment to a creation by noise music experimenter Don Haugen (whose work used to rattle the walls at DIVAs old space) and Beta Collide trumpeter Brian McWhorters “Extractorama.” Adventurous music has long found more sympathetic homes in certain art galleries than in often-stodgy concert halls, as composers from John Cage to Steve Reich, Philip Glass and David Lang can testify. Maybe this cool sound art exhibition can ignite a similar trend here.
The young fret board virtuosi in Californias New West Guitar Trio play with an aplomb and integration that belies their age, and which has already landed the recent USC graduates a gig accompanying jazz singer Gretchen Parlatos last album. The L.A.-based threesome just released their fourth CD, Round-Trip Ticket, which continues and deepens their exploration of classical and rock-influenced jazz. Devotees of modern jazz guitar legends from Wes Montgomery to Jim Hall to Pat Metheny will find much to enjoy at their Jazz Station gig on July 17. The little downtown jazz venue also hosts the excellent Joe Manis Trio on July 8.
Another not-quite-jazz-as-we-know-it trio, the Dead Kenny Gs, plays July 13 at Sam Bonds Garage. The jazz punk trios punning moniker is appropriate, as they smash the Dead Kennedys punk attitude into the strident anti-smooth jazz, purveyed by Seattle saxist Skerik, a longtime Rahsaan Roland Kirk fan whos backed by Austin bassist Brad Houser and New Orleans percussionist Mike Dillon.