Classical Meets Jazz Meets Rock
Weeks offerings span from Hendrix to Strayhorn
by Brett Campbell
When Eugene composer Paul Safar was growing up in Pittsburgh, his parents hosted house parties accompanied by the strains of music from that most musical of cities, their Vienna homeland. As a teenager, Saraf also played in rock bands and jazz clubs. His latest attempt to integrate the classical music he learned in school and the sounds of the culture he grew up in boasts influences from Beethoven, jazz and pop; Concerto for Electric Guitar and Chamber Orchestra premieres Feb. 10 at Central Lutheran Church, 1857 Potter Street. Safar has enlisted a stellar team: the fine guitarist Olem Alves, players from the Eugene Symphony, Oregon Mozart Players and UO music school, all conducted by recent UO grad, New York-based composer and trumpeter Douglas Detrick, who will also conduct his award winning arrangement of the Ellington classic, "Single Petal of a Rose.”
The concert also includes Safar little winging it on solo piano in his "Fly On: Variations on a Theme by Jimi Hendrix”, plus his jazzy "Quartet in Red, Black and Blue” (reminiscent of the Turtle Island String Quartets more ambitious work), whose second movement features vocals by his spouse and Cherry Blossom Musical Arts co-founder, Nancy Wood. The soprano also joins Safar on Portland composer Dan Senns "Micro-Dramatic Songs.”
Detrick co-founded the Eugene Jazz Composers Orchestra, which will perform original compositions (by Oregon composers) and arrangements for big band on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at Cozmic Pizza. Another star in that circle who recently relocated to NYC, forward-looking saxophonist-composer Hashem Assadullahi, performs with his quartet and the great Denver trumpeter and Bill Frisell sideman Ron Miles in the intimate new house concert series Feb. 3 at 911 Broadway (at Adams).
Assadullahi used to perform with the classic-jazz outfit the Emerald City Jazz Kings, whose Feb. 10 and 13 concerts at The Shedd cover the mid-20th century American songbook. The Shedd is also the venue for a compelling Feb. 3 concert of music written by another Pittsburgher, the great composer/arranger/pianist Billy Strayhorn, who contributed so much to Ellingtons work, including his theme song, "Take the A Train,” "Lotus Blossom” and many more. Leading the band will be saxophonist and KLCC jazz show host Carl Woideck. You can make it a whole jazz weekend by checking out yet another rising jazzer and UO grad, Eugene-based saxophonist, Cherry Poppin Daddies sideman and composer Joe Manis and his trio, who play 10 pm at the Granary.
At the UO, which spawned these up-and-blowing talents, the Oregon Wind Ensemble devotes on Sunday, Feb. 6, a free Beall Hall concert to a single work: the award-winning 2008 composition "Ecstatic Waters,” an ambitious, mood-swinging hybrid of electronics and concert band music. Composer Steven Bryant describes this work as "WB Yeats meets Ray Kurzweil in the Matrix,” and you might hear hints of Copland, Stravinsky and even the recently departed John Barrys James Bond-style cinematic sounds as well. You can enjoy more academic electronica at the schools new guest artist series, Sonic Rain, on Feb. 13 in room 163 of the music building.
Top recommendation for older music at the UO: visiting recorder player and harpsichordist Peter Van Heyghen (of the superb ensemble Les Muffati) and Kris Verhelst, along with UO prof and cellist Marc Vanscheeuwijck, who hail from one of the wellsprings of Europes exciting early music movement, Belgium. Theyll be lecturing all week and, on Feb. 5, will play music by Italian early Baroque composers on authentic instruments at the UOs cozy Collier House.
One of classical musics leading orchestral clarinetists, Richard Morales (who plays in the Philadelphia Orchestra) joins UO faculty pianist David Riley Thursday, Feb. 3, at Beall in music by Brahms, Saint-Saens, Verdi and more. On Feb. 10 at Beall, the Oregon String Quartet and Trio Pacifica play an attractive all-Beethoven program, and the University Symphony does the same (including that mightiest of symphonies, Ludwig Vans seventh, plus his "Violin Concerto,” starring UO prof. Fritz Gearhart) at the EMU Ballroom Feb. 6.
Theres some cool classical off campus, too. On Sunday afternoon Feb. 13 at United Lutheran Church, 2230 Washington Street, the Oregon Bach Collegium plays a dandy program with an equally engaging title: "Prodigal Sons: Baroque Composers Who Dropped Out of Law School and Disappointed Their Parents.” The concert will feature delicious music by coulda-been-shysters Georg Philipp Telemann, Johann David Heinichen, Christoph Graupner and Georg Friedrich Handel. And at the same delightfully intimate location, the Oregon Mozart Players play a Feb. 6 benefit for local nonprofit organizations featuring music of Grieg and another composer who actually stayed on his alternative career path, early 20th century French naval officer Jean €mile Paul Cras.