Rising talent takes the stage in Eugene
by Brett Campbell
This month offers opportunities to see accomplished masters meeting and mentoring the next generations rising stars ã who are in turn reinvigorating older traditions. After a stellar career at the UO, trumpeter/composer Douglas Detrick, who grew up in Portland, made the bold and apparently inevitable move east last year. Hes returning from the Bronx for some projects this month and next; more on the latter next time. On Monday, Jan. 31, Detricks chamber jazz group (sax, trumpet bassoon, cello, drums) AnyWhen Ensemble performs Detricks unique blend of jazz, classical and avant-garde influences at the UOs Beall Concert Hall. The concert guest stars one of Detricks mentors, a previous-generation jazzer who also explores more "composed” territories. Like Detrick, Seattle pianist/composer Wayne Horvitz maintains different ensembles devoted to his jazzier and more "classically” influenced sides, but he made the opposite move: to the Northwest after forging a brilliant reputation on New Yorks adventurous downtown music scene in the 1980s. Hell join AnyWhen for a performance of Detricks new extended work, Rivers Music, inspired by the movement of water. With its placid stretches, spare, pensive solo passages and emphasis on texture and atmosphere more than melodic inventiveness, the spacious six-movement, partly improvised work (which will be released on CD at this concert) will appeal to fans of Gil Evans great orchestral jazz or the old Third Stream classical-jazz hybrids as well as contemporary "classical” music.
You can glimpse the talent pool from which Detrick and other erstwhile Eugene jazzers emerged this weekend at the LCC Performance Hall, when the 2011 Oregon Jazz Festival BRING's musicians from LCC, the UO and beyond to teach workshops for middle- and high-school students and show audiences the state of the art in todays and tomorrows jazz. This years featured artist, saxophonist and award winning composer Donny McCaslin, earned praise for his work in the Dave Douglas Quintet and with Maria Schneider, Luciana Souza, Pat Metheny and other jazz stars. Hell join the Lane and Oregon Jazz Ensembles in a big band concert on Friday, Jan. 21, and then on Saturday night complete a quartet with some of Portlands hardest-grooving jazzers: pianist Randy Porter, bassist Dave Captein and drummer Gary Hobbs.
One of New Yorks great jazz pianists for the past half century, the frequent Eugene visitor Dick Hyman, mentored one of this eras greatest jazz pianists, Bill Charlap, whose incomparable New York-based trio (with drummer Kenny Washington and, this time, bassist Sean Smith) returns to the Shedds Jaqua Concert Hall Friday, Jan. 28. As far as I can tell, Charlap, who got his start playing with Gerry Mulligan and Phil Woods, has never made a bad record nor even hit a bum note. He epitomizes crisp pianistic elegance and nonchalant virtuosity, especially when playing the classic American songbook tunes he so cherishes.
Speaking of the great American songbook, it does seem odd that classic jazzers and cabaret singers always seem to be limited to show tunes written between, say, 1920 and 1960. Singer Evynne Hollens, who founded the UOs impressive Divisi womens a cappella group, wants to update it, so on Friday, Jan. 21, and Sunday afternoon, Jan. 23, shell bring songbook 2.0 to the Shedd, enlisting Shedd vets Bill Hulings, Shirley Andress, Siri Vik, Bob Cross and the UOs On the Rocks founder Peter Hollens. Theyll sing songs from Shrek the Musical, In the Heights, Sister Act the Musical and other contemporary show tunes.
The Eugene Symphonys concerts this monthat the Hult Centers Silva Hallspotlight one of the most acclaimed old masters and one of todays hottest young performers. Still safely under 30, cellist Alisa Weilerstein has earned widespread and deserved praise for her tasteful virtuosity. This Thursday, Jan. 20, shell solo in one of classical musics most popular concertos, Dvoraks Cello Concerto. The concert also features Schumanns Symphony #3 and Samuel Barbers pulse-pounding Medeas Meditation and Dance of Vengeance. Next Saturdays (Jan. 29) annual gala celebration and benefit auction concert offers Beethovens Symphony #1, Johann Strausss Emperor Waltz and another of the greatest concertos, the second one Mendelssohn wrote for violin, with the celebrated Itzhak Perlman as soloist.
Yet another clutch of rising stars opens the new years UO chamber music series at Beall Hall. On Sunday, Jan. 30, the award winning Jupiter String Quartet, who studied under members of the great Takacs and Cleveland Quartets, play quartets by Beethoven and Bartok (the bracing, folk-influencedString Quartet #3) and will be joined by promising young Portland pianist Benjamin Kim (whose mentors include Leon Fleisher and Marta Argerich) for Shostakovichs striking 1940 Piano Quintet in G minor. And the torch continues to pass down the generations.