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Eugene Weekly : Music : 1.14.10




New Sounds in Odd Places

Cellos in bars to jazz festivals

by Brett Campbell

Herb Alpert & Lani Hall

Musicians — they just won’t stay where they’re supposed to. A prodigy who starred in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, cellist Matt Haimovitz was among the first classical stars to pack his axe and a box of CDs in the trunk of his car and bring Bach to taverns and bars, winning new audiences for classical music. Haimovitz’s intimate shows at Sam Bond’s are among the most powerful I’ve ever experienced, and he’s returning to the club on Jan. 22. Lately the still-young cello master has turned to rescuing the music of contemporary composers — from centenarian modernist Elliott Carter to electronica artists to younger composers such as Steven Stucky, Luna Pearl Woolf, Ana Sokolovic and Gilles Tremblay — from clubby academic settings and bringing it to clubgoers. He’ll interweave those sounds (some featuring world music influences) with a plangent precursor to J.S. Bach’s celebrated cello solos: Domenico Gabrielli’s Seven Ricercare.

Back in the day, you’d have expected to find trumpeter Herb Alpert fronting his Tijuana Brass, or later in the executive suite of the enormously  successful record company, A&M, he founded and ran for three decades. And you’d have heard singer Lani Hall crooning with Sergio Mendez’s band Brasil ’66. On Jan. 22, you can hear the pair — married since 1973 — performing with a slick jazz combo at the Shedd. One of history’s most successful recording artists (over 70 million records sold, 15 gold and 14 platinum albums, 8 Grammys, etc.), Alpert’s still got the chops needed to accompany Hall — in strong voice — on the jazzy Brazilian and Latin-beated North American standards (“That Old Black Magic,” “Besame Mucho,” “Fascinatin’ Rhythm,” et al) on their breezy recent album Anything Goes

When stuffy concert halls and con-servative academia rejected the pathbreaking music of composers such as John Cage, Philip Glass, Steve Reich and many others, they found a welcoming home in art galleries and artists’ lofts. In Eugene, DIVA has proved to be such an open-eared venue, and on Jan. 28, the downtown art center showcases the experimental intermedia art of Kevin Patton and Maria del Carmen Montoya. The show features structured improvisations in which the pair manipulate various electronic and other instrumental sounds using wired glove controllers, found objects, guitars and more. This sort of conjunction of digital technology, multimedia art (Montoya works in sculpture and video, too), and improv is a hallmark of 21st century creativity, and this experience — “concert” seems too restrictive a term — should offer glimpses into several of music’s futures.

Traditional venues still have much to offer. On Jan. 21 at the Hult Center, the Eugene Symphony presents one of the 20th century’s most powerful orchestral statements: Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, which has occasioned much debate about whether its stirring finale represented a sell out to audiences, a capitulation to Stalinist artistic repression that jeopardized the composer’s life — or a sneaky subversion of that system encoded in the score. What shouldn’t be overshadowed is the sheer power of this magnificent piece. The concert also brings pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa as soloist in Beethoven’s pulsating Piano Concerto No. 3.

The venerable stage at the UO’s Beall Concert Hall also hosts a couple of worthy shows. On Jan. 31, the University Symphony’s afternoon concert boasts a splendid program featuring a recent work, Bruce Miller’s 1999 Serenade for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra with UO prof Idit Shner as soloist, plus Igor Stravinsky’s two suites for small orchestra and the lively suite from Walter Piston’s 1938 ballet The Incredible Flutist. The next evening, the same venue hosts the Eugene Symphonic Band playing more Shostakovich, Leonard Bernstein’s popular, rollicking Candide overture and music of Sibelius, Bruckner, Grainger, Bach, Morton Gould and more. 

Jazz fans should clear their weekend calendars for the annual collaboration between the UO and LCC jazz programs. The Oregon Jazz Festival brings high school jazzers from around the state to Lane Performance Hall and Beall Concert Hall to learn from and perform with some of the region’s finest pros, including saxman Dan Gailey, trumpeters Thomas Marriott  (whose Seattle/Portland quintet featuring celebrated Portland pianist Darrel Grant and veteran drummer Alan Jones plays Saturday),Vern Sielert, trombonist Dave Glenn and drummer Gary Hobbs. The UO and Lane jazz ensembles will also play, so it’s a weekend of jazz joy for both students and fans.