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Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.12.08




Indoor Thrills

Fun in the sun is fine, but music still rings inside

By Brett Campbell

Despite summer’s outdoor distractions, as the weather warms, music still cooks in this town, of course, and this month offers the opportunity to catch some lesser-known but still extremely worthy musicians, some recently arrived.

“Bonga” Jean Baptiste

One is the skilled fingerstyle guitarist Larry Pattis, recently relocated to Creswell from Salt Lake City. His artistry recalls solo geniuses like Michael Hedges and Pierre Bensusan (who’s praised his work), but Pattis never lets his steel string and slide virtuosity overwhelm the lyricism of his generally leisurely compositions. He probably would have found a comfortable home at the old Windham Hill record label. Pattis has performed at prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center (his website boasts an hour-long concert recorded on its Millennium Stage) and, just before he heads off to Montreal to play the celebrated Montreal International Jazz Festival, he’ll be playing for free on Sunday, June 22, at Tsunami Books.

Another fine musician who recently relocated to Eugene is Joanna Blendulf, who’ll be teaching at the UO next year. She specializes in the viola da gamba, a gorgeous cello-like instrument whose intimate voice made it a favorite in Renaissance and Baroque consort music and, alas, doomed it as performance venues grew too capacious for its subtlety. For her June 21 concert at the appropriately intimate Central Lutheran Church, 1857 Potter, Blendulf will play the rarely heard (these days) pardessus de viole, a treble gamba, in music by Francois Couperin, Jean-Féry Rebel, Marin Marais, Pergolesi and more. 

Another opportunity to hear an authentic reconstruction of a pre-Classical instrument arises June 14 when Richard Guy presents the sixth in his free series of afternoon concerts devoted to J.S. Bach at the Atrium downtown. This one, performed on a full-throated, brand new harpsichord created by Springfield’s Norman Purdy and based on a 1693 Italian instrument in the Smithsonian, includes, appropriately, Bach’s mighty Italian Concerto and his rewrite of one of Vivaldi’s concertos, plus some preludes and fugues. (By the way, if you’re interested in hearing in advance about Eugene’s rapidly developing early music scene, send your email address to rpsaki@uoregon.edu)

Speaking of free shows, catch rising young Portland jazz pianist Ben Macy and his trio on June 13 at Sahalie’s Wine Bar in Corvallis. The members can double on guitar and accordion, affording a wider range of sound colors than the standard jazz trio, and Macy’s refreshingly original but still straightahead compositions should appeal to a variety of jazz fans. And there’s yet more free jazz at Bel Ami restaurant, which has instituted a splendid music series that sometimes gets overlooked during the year’s musically busier stretches. Upcoming shows include Sean Flannery and Dorian Crow on June 14, Eric Richardson Trio on June 18 and the ever-enticing duo of Jessie Marquez and Mike Denny on June 25. 

World music fans have a rare opportunity to experience the powerful rhythms of Haiti when drummer and singer “Bonga” Jean Baptiste performs with our own Anba Tierra quintet at Cozmic Pizza on June 13. Baptiste has been channeling his country’s Afro-Caribbean Voudou sounds for three decades, learning from old masters, playing in roots bands Foula and Boukman Eksperyans and working with everyone from Wyclef Jean to Natalie Merchant to Salif Keita. His latest album also incorporates Middle Eastern sounds and especially the African influences that inform Haiti’s rich musical culture. Baptiste, who’s also a teacher and drum builder, will talk about Haitian culture and music before the performance, which will likely be one of the grooviest world music concerts of the summer.