Photo courtesy Richard Thompson's website

Relevant Music

Classical, jazz, Star Wars and rock ‘n’ roll coming our way

Eugene Concert Choir’s Nov. 8 concert at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall features a moving new work by New York composer Michael Bussewitz-Quarm, “The Unarmed Child.” It commemorates children lost to gun violence. The show also includes Benjamin Britten’s gravely beautiful 1963 tribute to the Red Cross, “Cantata Misericordium” (Merciful Heart), and more, with guest stars Eugene’s Delgani Quartet.

That estimable foursome isn’t only the state’s finest classical music chamber ensemble; they’re also strong proponents of Oregon music. Delgani’s Nov. 3 and 5 shows at Christian Science Church, 1390 Pearl Street, include a string quartet by the great Portland composer Tomas Svoboda.

Delgani’s stirring performance last year remains one of the best made-in-Oregon classical moments I’ve ever experienced. They’ll also play a quartet by Mozart as well as Robert Schumann’s famous E-flat piano quintet, with guest soloist Asya Gulua, the Salem-based pianist who is one of Oregon’s finest classical performers.

Schumann is also on the program at a Nov. 3 recital by another great pianist, Conrad Tao, at Oregon State University’s LaSells Stewart Center. He’ll also play music by J.S. Bach, Rachmaninoff and the excellent Pulitzer Prize-winning “Bang on a Can” composers David Lang and Julia Wolfe.

Other classical recommendations: Eugene Symphony’s show Saturday, Nov. 2, featuring John Williams’s stirring score to The Empire Strikes Back. Also Oregon Bach Collegium’s Nov. 10 concert, which includes 17th-century love songs and Shakespearean sonnets, the latter intoned by Geoff Ridden from Ashland’s Classic Readings Theater Company, the former sung by soprano Emma Rose Lynn and accompanied by baroque cellist Alex Abrams and harpsichord Margret Gries.

Another urgent issue — the recent Republican repudiation of our multicultural heritage — inspired “The Immigrants,” a new song by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno, who performs Nov. 8 at Sessions Music Hall.

The song and sentiment highlight the L.A.-based, Guatemalan-born singer-songwriter’s sparkling new pan-American album ¡Spangled!, featuring Ry Cooder. It covers tunes from across the Americas and the last century, including songs from Panama, Brazil, Mexico and even that rich source of Latin American sound, the U.S.

It’s a co-production with legendary musician, songwriter, arranger and producer Van Dyke Parks, whose lyrics and vision made Brian Wilson’s Smile album such a 1960s psychedelic landmark and who has continued his own quirky explorations of various American musical forms. Speaking of which, check out Green Hand Brass’s New Orleans brass band music and contemporary covers Nov. 7 at the Jazz Station.

With the possible exception of Neil Young, is any rock star to emerge in the 1960s still making music as vital as Richard Thompson?

Debuting as the teenage hotshot guitarist/songwriter for Fairport Convention, Thompson went on to make a still-growing string of superb albums, first with his wife, singer Linda Thompson, and then with his own electric bands and renowned solo acoustic performances, which is how we’ll see him play at The Shedd Nov. 5.

Easily one of the finest guitarists in rock history, Thompson can still shred with the best of them, but his songwriting prowess has exceeded even his fretboard fame. 

His most famous song, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” has received plenty of covers, including by the Del McCoury Band, which plays The Shedd Nov. 7. The Grammy-winning Bill Monroe protégé has also been making great music for five decades, including the last two with the band featuring his two sons. Like Thompson, McCoury has also expanded his artistic ambit beyond its original genre (bluegrass in this case) to a wider range of folk and country sounds.

The Shedd brings still another rootsy songwriting legend, Rodney Crowell, to town Nov. 13. After becoming the prince of country music in the 1980s, with a string of engaging, upbeat chart topping singles (and marrying the king’s daughter, Rosanne Cash), the Houston Kid too expanded beyond country’s commercial boundaries, becoming one of the country’s most accomplished songwriters.


The Midnight Hour

Photo by Todd Cooper

Another musician who won initial fame in one arena — here, hip hop — but has continued to expand his horizons is Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, whose The Midnight Hour visits the WOW Hall Nov. 6.

Co-led by composer and producer Adrian Younge, the 10-piece ensemble’s sound includes tasty, atmospheric  jazz, funk, soul and more, as well as the requisite beats.

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