Why wait for summer to take your international vacation when you can take a musical world tour this month right here in Eugene?
First stop: Brazil, via the great Oregon saxophonist Tom Bergeron’s Brasil Band concert May 21 at The Jazz Station. World-renowned Rio de Janeiro pianist and composer Marvio Ciribelli has appeared at jazz festivals around the world, and Bergeron has worked with everyone from Anthony Braxton to Ella Fitzgerald and Robert Cray.
Or you could head to Ghana by way of the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall May 20 to hear the Dema Ensemble, a new UO group that combines African traditional drumming, dance, singing and storytelling led by Ghanaian UO prof Habib Iddrisu. There’s more world music and dance May 26 when the 14 dancers and percussionists of Che Malambo brings their South American cowboy songs and dances to the Hult’s Silva Hall.
Next stop: India. On Saturday, May 21, Yoga West (3635 Hilyard) hosts a performance led by a longtime disciple of one of the most famous 20th-century Indian musicians and teachers, Ali Akbar Khan. Ben Kunin studied the beautiful sarod lute with the legend, and he’ll be joined by another Ali Akbar Khan pupil, Eugene’s own Indian music guru Doug Scheuerell, along with Gurmukh Singh on vocals and Subhash Phatak on violin. Also that night is a stop on the Isle of Lesbos courtesy of the Soromundi Lesbian Chorus spring choral concert at the Hult.
It’s off to another isle, the Emerald one, at Colleen Raney and Hanz Araki’s May 23 concert with their band at another 755 River Road house concert. Despite his distinctly non-Celtic name, Irish flutist-pennywhistle master-singer Araki has been a stalwart performer of Irish traditional music in Oregon for many years and 11 albums, and I’ve seen him and Seattle Irish singer Raney leave audiences delighted and enthralled whenever they team up. Reserve advance tickets at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A quick trip to Canada ensues May 29 at First Methodist (1376 Olive) when Guy and Nadina descend from northern climes to play Baroque music by Scarlatti and lesser known contemporaries and modern composers. Bach Festival fans will recognize the trumpeter extraordinaire as Guy Few, while Nadina Mackie Jackson toots the bassoon, which plays a virtuosic role in Baroque music. There’s more Western classical music May 20, this time played by three Korean organists performing Western classical, romantic and Baroque music at First Methodist Church.
All music is hybrid music, as the great Oregon-born composer and world-music pioneer Lou Harrison used to say, and the June 2 Delhi 2 Dublin concert at Hi-Fi Music Hall demonstrates how fun and rich those combinations can be in today’s globally connected culture. Their fusion of Celtic, bhangra, dub, whip hop, funk and more is infinitely danceable.
Speaking of Harrison, who would have turned 99 this week, his gravely beautiful medieval-influenced string quartet highlights Delgani Quartet’s terrific May 21 program at Sprout! (418 A St.) in Springfield. Local artist Mike Bragg contributes video and still photography shot by drone over the Willamette Valley.
There’s more American music May 23 when The Shedd brings maybe the greatest living bluesman, guitar god Buddy Guy, to the Hult’s Silva Hall. A master who influenced everyone from Hendrix to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Guy can still summon the spirit of his fellow Chicago bluesmen who preceded him. While we’re talking about American music legends, The Shedd hosts a Peggy Lee tribute by Shirley Andress on May 19, 21 and 22.
And speaking of jazz, the UO’s spring big bands concert May 20 is led by the award-winning Philadelphia saxophonist Jaleel Shaw. And jazz pianist composer Torrey Newhart’s quintet plays classics along with his own originals May 21 — part of a free public conference on philosophy and children this Friday and Saturday at the 4J headquarters at 200 N. Monroe St.
Finally, you can hear new music by young Oregon composers at the UO’s May 23 concert by the University Percussion Ensemble at Aasen-Hull Hall and May 24’s Oregon Composers Forum at Beall Hall.