Oboes of love and a whole lot more
by Brett Campbell
Erik Friedlander got his start on New Yorks fertile downtown new music scene nearly two decades ago by playing cello in avant-jazz legend John Zorns celebrated Masada, and also earned a rep as a top studio vet on releases by the Mountain Goats, Courtney Love, Laurie Anderson, Dar Williams and more, even playing in Broadway shows and leading the fine group Topaz. His 14 CD releases cover similarly wide territory. Still, for me, Friedlanders solo work (including a gorgeous performance in Portland a couple summers back accompanied by images created on family vacations by his father, the great photographer Lee Friedlander, and an intense 2005 Shedd concert of improvised responses to a mad French surrealist poets texts) remains his most vital. On Saturday, Jan. 8, Friedlander returns to the Shedd with his latest unaccompanied show: music by Zorn, much of it inspired by his Jewish roots, including klezmer, but also employing propulsive jazz rhythms, classical and postclassical influences and more. Friedlanders mastery of bowing, plucking and chording techniques, and the musics wide emotional range, from ruminative to melancholy to passionate, should make this performance much richer than the usual solo showcase.
Friedlander represents the kind of creative intersection of jazz and classical musicians thats enriching American music today, and Eugene seems to be a font of these healthy hybrids, with some excellent, boundary-busting young musicians emerging from the UO music school in recent years and sticking around for a while to find their voices before heading off for greater opportunities. A new hothouse to nurture such nascent efforts is aborning this year. According to founder Paul Bodin, the January-May Broadway Avenue House Concert Series will afford UO students, faculty, alums and other Eugene and touring musicians the opportunity to present, demonstrate and discuss their music with local music lovers. The series debut concert on Jan. 15 at 911 W. Broadway features UO trumpet professor and Beta Collide founder Brian McWhorter, UO sax prof Steve Owen, Cherry Poppin Daddies guitarist Bill Marsh and percussionist Jason Palmer.
Speaking of rising youngish Eugene jazz talent, if his explosive 2009 release Evidence is any indication, the excellent saxophonist/composer Joe Manis will soon be better known for his high-powered, updated take on the glorious Rollins/Trane tradition than for his sideman slots in the Cherry Poppin Daddies and Thomas Mapfumos band. The jazz trio thatll play at the Granary on Jan. 15 ã all UO grads ã replaces the standard piano or bass with guitar played by Portlands Justin Morrell; Corvalliss Ryan Biesack drums.
The next excellent touring jazz show of the year alights at Luckeys on Jan. 14, when Seattles avant-punk-jazz Reptet bring their raucous, high-energy improvisation back to town. Boasting a bustling lineup of trumpets, vocals, saxes, banjo, bass, percussion, tuba, trombone and clarinets, the virtuosic multi-instrumentalists specialize in blowing up the standard staid jazz vibe and rocking the house.
The Oregon Mozart Players nearly sold out Jan. 8 concert at the Hult Centers Soreng Theater features the famous chamber orchestra arrangement of Samuel Barbers perennial Adagio, George Gershwins lovely little "Lullaby” and the suite from Aaron Coplands opera, The Tender Land, which isnt performed as much as it should be because the libretto doesnt match the brilliance of Coplands music, so this is a chance to hear some relatively rarely played music by Americas greatest composer. The sumptuous melodicism of Virginia composer Walter Rosss newish Concerto for Oboe dAmore and String Orchestra sounds a little old fashioned, or postmodern, and stars a very old instrument: the "oboe of love” (which sounds like a disastrous pickup line from the spoof on porn flicks Peter Sellers should have made), that mellower, huskier voiced old great-aunt of the modern instrument that purred through so many lilting works by J.S. Bach and other 18th century composers, and was sporadically revived by Ravel, Debussy and others. Congrats to the Mozart Players for helping keep American music a living tradition.
If you want to hear other ancient sounds and instruments, check out the UOs Collegium Musicum concert, featuring music by the great Renaissance composers Josquin and Palestrina and early Baroque masters Monteverdi and Frescobaldi, at 5 pm Jan. 13 in the campuss cozy Collier House.
Finally, you can hear one of the regions best world music bands and support a good cause ã the Iraqi Student Project, which educates students who want to rebuild the country our taxpayer dollars devastated ã by catching local Middle Eastern ensemble Ala Nar at Cozmic Pizza on Jan. 15.