Avi AvitalPhoto courtesy Harald Hoffman / Deutsche Grammaphon

Musical Winter Getaways

Another musical tour to break up the winter blues

Who doesn’t want to get the heck out of Eugene in February? Clearly it’s time for another virtual musical tour!

First stop: New Orleans, through the magic of the Emerald City Jazz Kings’ shows this Thursday night, Feb. 9, (cabaret seating) and Sunday, Feb. 12, afternoon (concert seating) with early clarinet-fueled music by Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and other Big Easy jazz masters, along with similar hot jazz from non-Nawlins types like Bix Beiderbecke and the Dorsey Brothers.

Alternative destination: Harvey Brindell & The Tablerockers Bluesband playing Chicago blues at the Jazz Station this Thursday, Feb. 9. Guitarist Brindell, blues harpist Ray Beltran, drummer Ashbolt Stewart and bassist Dave Wagner have been blowing the blues for decades.

Brindell recently relocated to Portland, next stop on our musical tour. Friday, Feb. 10, brings the funky jazz of Portland’s veteran Trio Subtonic to Hi-Fi Lounge. Keyboardist Galen Clark’s band is easy to groove to but also repays close listening. Another fine Northwest jazz funk outfit, Seattle’s McTuff, plays the club Feb. 17. Portland Cello Project mainstay Gideon Freudmann heads down I-5 Saturday, Feb. 11, for this month’s Broadway House Concert at 911 West Broadway (reservations at 541-686-9270).

One of PCP’s more classically inclined players, Freudmann’s original music (often under the name CelloBop), also partakes of jazz, electronic, folk and other styles, electronically looped and layered and often used in NPR and other radio and TV programs. He gets a rich sound out of a single instrument (which he can pluck, bow, or even drum on), an ideal act for the intimate Broadway House vibe.

Another Feb. 11 option: Head to Argentina with Oregon Mozart Players, whose concert at the UO’s Beall Concert Hall features that country’s two greatest 20th century composers, Alberto Ginastera (whose 2016 centennial finally brought some of his terrific music, like the Concerto for Strings on this program, back into circulation) and his most famous student, nuevo tango master Astor Piazzolla, whose deliciously danceable History of the Tango is anything but a dry history lesson. The program detours through the mythical land of the Gypsies with two famous classical violin showcases based on melodies from Europe’s Roma people: Ravel’s wild Tzigane, and Sarasate’s flashy Gypsy Airs.

Sarasate was a Spanish composer, and you can continue your musical Spanish sojourn this Sunday, Feb. 12, at United Lutheran Church, 2230 Washington St., where Música Eugenia sings and plays Spanish sounds from the Renaissance to the present by composers well known (For, Rodrigo) and not so much (Mudarra, Milán, Murcia, Sanz, Marín, Guerau) plus a new original Spanish song written by the band members, who play Baroque and Classical guitars and vihuela and percussion.

Our Spanish sojourn continues with the Eugene Symphony’s Feb. 16 concert featuring a kaleidoscopic 1999 guitar concerto by one of America’s greatest living composers, Christopher Rouse. “My thoughts went immediately to the great Spanish tradition of music for this instrument,” Rouse wrote, “and it seemed logical for me to exhibit my admiration … in my own composition,” which is named for and inspired by the wild and wondrous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (who designed Barcelona’s magnificently weird Sagrada Familia) and flamenco traditions. The soloist is the superb Grammy-winning guitarist he wrote it for, Sharon Isbin. The recommended concert opens with another ebullient Rouse rouser from the same time, Rapture, and closes with Ravel’s famous orchestral arrangement of Mussorgsky’s famous gallery stroll, Pictures at an Exhibition. 

If you prefer to go all Brexit instead, try British brass band music at Oregon Brass Society’s Feb. 12 show at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. Next is a visit to the Land o’ Love, courtesy of jazz singer Mandy Harvey’s Valentine’s night concert at the Jazz Station Tuesday, replete with swinging standards and more. 

Next Friday: France, via singer Harry Baechtel, pianist Michael Seregow and the Sylvestris Quartet, a San Francisco ensemble that plays on historically authentic gut strings rather than modern steel or synthetics. Their more nuanced, silken sound should sound gorgeous in the UO’s acoustically pristine Beall Hall at their Feb. 17 show featuring music by late Romantic/pre-Impressionist French composer Gabriel Faure. They’ll play his lovely first piano quintet, a pair of his song cycles setting poetry by his fellow French artist, the great symbolist poet Paul Verlaine, and more. 

We embark on a whirlwind, one-night world tour on Feb. 18, departing from Beall Hall, where Israeli mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital deploys the instrument that reached the peak of its development and influence in 18th and 19th century Italy to play music from England, Germany and Georgia with a quartet of young Americans. In this highly recommended Chamber Music@Beall concert, Avital joins one of America’s hottest young string quartets, the Dover Quartet (which numbers at least one Oregonian and which has delighted audiences at recent Chamber Music Northwest performances), to play music by J.S. Bach, 20th century Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze and contemporary English composer David Bruce.

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