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Eugene Weekly : Music : 4.30.09




Musical Revolution

Concert halls reverberate

by Brett Campbell

Booker T. Jones. Photo Gary Copeland

In 1964, California composer and jazz pianist Terry Riley touched off a gentle musical revolution with the radically simple — but not simplistic — In C, which abandoned the prevailing off-putting Euro-orthodoxies of postwar academic music by restoring tonality, pulse and beauty — and, not incidentally, much wider popularity. Riley’s groundbreaking piece introduced so-called minimalism and greatly influenced Steve Reich (who played in the original performance) and many other composers, changing the course of  music for the better. Maybe the most influential piece of 20th century postclassical music (along with Stravinsky’s 1913 The Rite of Spring), the mesmerizing In C continues to receive performances worldwide, including Third Angle’s rendition in a downtown Portland fountain last fall, an all-star 45th birthday celebration concert at Carnegie Hall last week — and, on May 3, two performances at what the UO music school is calling a “mystery concert.” The free, five hour marathon (come anytime between 5 and 10 pm) also features music by Reich (this year’s Pulitzer winner), Philip Glass, Michael Daugherty, Eric Whitacre and many more of today’s leading composers, played in various spots at the UO music building. In the spirit of the original, for the 9 pm performance of In C’s one-page score, audience members can bring instruments or voices and join in. See whatism.wordpress.com for more.

 Also at the UO, on May 1, the Mark Applebaum Jazz Piano Duo plays jazz standards and originals at Beall Hall. Best known as one of today’s wildest and most original composers, often devising his own whimsical instruments to play complex yet inviting sounds, Applebaum, a Stanford music prof, is also a capable jazz pianist and loves performing with his dad, Bob, a now retired science teacher who’s played jazz since before Mark’s birth.

Applebaum’s music has been championed by UO trumpet star Brian McWhorter, whose group Beta Collide will perform a tribute to the great 20th century German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen at Beall Thursday, April 30. The modernist master, who experimented with techniques ranging from serialism to mysticism electronics to chance music and died in 2007, influenced several generations of composers, not least Paul McCartney, who put his image on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album when the Fab Four were at their most experimental. 

You can hear some of tomorrow’s music on May 9 and May 13 at the UO when the school’s Future Music Oregon and Oregon Composers Forum programs present new works by UO students. And on May 12, busy Beall hosts the Eugene Symphonic Band in music by Grainger, Sousa, Jenkins and more. 

On May 5, the UO brings the superb Panamanian jazz pianist Danilo Perez to Beall. Perez earned notice as a young sideman for Wayne Shorter, Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden Wynton Marsalis and a host of today’s other leading jazzers, then won acclaim on his own for a series of terrific albums in the 1990s, including one with Paquite D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. 

He’s one of several keyboard whizzes tickling the keys in town this month. On April 30, prizewinning pianist Tien Hsieh plays an all-Liszt recital Springfield’s Wildish Theater. On May 2 at the Shedd, George Winston plays music inspired by his New Orleans R&B piano idols (James Booker, Professor Longhair, et al) from his new CD, Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions. And on May 13, the Shedd hosts the legendary Booker T. Jones, whose funky keyboard artistry fueled so many of those great Stax records in the 1960s and ’70s. But although he’s a great soul player on the B3 organ, Jones was always more than just “Green Onions”; he studied composition at Indiana University and has won plaudits as a producer. His groovy new album with the Drive By Truckers is one of the year’s best so far. The Shedd also hosts old time banjo/guitar/fiddle master Bruce Molsky and his Appalachia meets Delta blues sound on May 8.

Classical fans should consider the Oregon Mozart Players’ May 2-3 concerts at the Hult’s Soreng theater, which feature a Schubert symphony, a Mendelssohn piano concerto and a Villa Lobos sinfonietta. And members of the Mozart Players will accompany the Eugene Concert Choir’s latest collaboration with the Eugene Ballet in Mendelssohn’s rarely performed, witchy cantata The First Walpurgis Night, based on a Goethe story, on May 9 at the Hult’s Silva Hall. Jazz fans should check out  UO alum Hashem Assadullahi’s latest project, the Duet^2 Ensemble, on May 7th at Jo Federigo's, and guitarist Larry Pattis’ original tunes on May 8 at the World Café/New Day Bakery.