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Eugene Weekly : Music : 10.29.09




Hell and Back

Seasonal sounds and more

by Brett Campbell

Claudia Acuña

It’s All Hallows Eve, and you wanna see something REALLY scary? Way too many cool music events in town and insufficient time and space to see them — or even adequately preview them here. But this column’s act of compression pales in comparison to what playwright Tim McIntosh, composer McKenzie Stubbert and designers Josiah Martens, Wes Hurd and Noah Crabtree have created: a multimedia reduction of Dante’s entire Divine Comedy — no, not just the Inferno, but all three volumes of the most celebrated epic of the Middle Ages — into about an hour. Starting at 6, 7:15 and 8:30 pm on Oct. 30 and 31 at Gutenberg College, audiences will be able to follow Dante and his guide, Virgil, from hell to heaven. 

Other fun musical Halloweenery includes the PipeScreams on Oct. 30 at First United Methodist Church (14th & Olive), in which a fright of local organists plays scary classical music, and Mood Area 52’s annual live twisted tango instrumental accompaniment to F.W. Murnau’s classic vampire flick Nosferatu at Sam Bond’s on Oct. 29. Then you can repent all those sins the next afternoon by bringing canned goods for Food for Lane County to First Methodist, and being rewarded with an All Saints concert featuring Faure’s soothing Requiem and music by Viere and Verdi.

Another centuries-old Italian trilogy — paintings by a Renaissance master painter — inspired the ever-retro-looking Ottorino Respighi to write an orchestral suite named  Three Botticelli Pictures, which the Oregon Mozart Players will perform in their Nov. 7-8 concerts at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater. But the more welcome news is the chamber orchestra’s commissioning composer John Musto to orchestrate his song cycle Quiet Songs, and they’re bringing the composer and his wife, soprano Amy Burton, to perform in the world premiere of this version. Musto will also be the soloist in Mozart’s first great Piano Concerto, K. 271. Musto and Burton will also play cabaret songs in a dinner performance at Actors Cabaret of Eugene on Nov. 3.

Over at the UO’s Beall Hall, the school’s own faculty members are playing a couple of highly recommended concerts. The Columbia Piano Trio, featuring UO profs Fritz Gearhart and David Riley on violin and piano, respectively, along with Eugene Symphony cellist Andrew Kolb, play trios by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Frank Bridge on Nov. 8. Then on Nov. 10, pianist Alexandre Dossin and other UO faculty (including the Oregon String Quartet) play an all-Villa Lobos program including one of the Brazilian composer’s Bachianas Brasileiras, his fourth string quartet and more. UO students play some great American music for winds on Nov. 3, including works by Aaron Copland, Charles Ives and Leonard Bernstein. And on Nov. 7, a former UO student, pianist James Miley, leads his jazz quartet Bug in a concert in room 190 at the UO music school. 

Speaking of jazz, at Davis’s Restaurant and Bar on Oct. 29, Trio Subtonic, one of Portland’s coolest jazzish bands, celebrates its splendid new release, Cave Dwellers, which takes their irresistibly groovy music in slightly more laid back yet musically ambitious directions. Yet Galen Clark (keyboards), Bill Athens (basses) and Jesse Brooke (percussion) retain the odd meter funk and frequent Brazilian rhythms that make the group appeal as much to jam banders, dance clubbers and even world music fans as to jazzheads. 

Real Brazilian jazz arrives at the Shedd on Nov. 6 with the pianist/flutist/composer Jovino Santos Neto and his quintet, whose breezy, sophisticated sounds blend folk and jazz elements. Fans of both jazz and world music should really give this sunny sleeper concert a try. The Shedd brings still another fine international jazzer, sultry Chilean chanteuse Claudia Acuña, on Nov. 8. She’s played with George Benson, Tom Harrell, Arturo O’Farrill and lots of other jazz stars, and you don’t need to habla Español to understand why; she’s an enticing singer who can appeal to fans of old time pop and AOR as well jazz types. Neither of these Shedd  performers is as well known as they should — and will — be, but both are well worth checking out. 

A couple of other world music shows will warm up November. On Nov. 6, the local youth marimba band Hokoyo gives its final performance to benefit AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe. If you cut out a little early, you can catch the latest inheritor of the late, great Fela Kuti’s great political Afrobeat legacy. We’ve long been treated to visits by the major West Coast (Aphrodesia) and East Coast (Albino!) American Felacolytes, and now Joe’s Bar & Grill brings the Midwest version: Chicago Afrobeat Project, which mixes horn-goosed jazz and rock with the usual funk and African strains.