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Summer Sounds

Frank Vignola, Ensemble Primo Seicento and a Jazz-Age musical at The Shedd

If you’re wondering why the restaurants and streets along Broadway seem a little more crowded this month, blame The Shedd. The erstwhile Baptist church is hopping with jazz, choral music and its annual summer musical. First up is Friday night’s concert featuring the impeccable guitarist Frank Vignola, a frequent and always welcome visitor who brings a duet partner, guitarist Vinny Raniolo. Proclaimed one of the finest ever by no less than the sainted Les Paul (his former touring partner), the versatile virtuoso can convincingly cover everything from Black Sabbath to Bach, and has played with artists as varied as Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, bluegrass fiddle legend Mark O’Connor and mandolin master David Grisman, jazz masters from Lionel Hampton to Wynton Marsalis. Still under 50, Vignola, who first made his mark with thrilling Django-esque jazz, has also written 18 guitar instruction books, recorded dozens of albums and given master classes at the highest level. In short, if you love guitar, you’ll be at this show.

After the smoke clears, The Shedd opens its theatricals season with the fizzy Jazz Age comedy No, No, Nanette!, June 12-16. The team of Robert Ashens and Richard Jessup return to run a full production of the 1925 romp, which stars Evynne Hollens and Ron Daum and other Shedd regulars. Vincent Youmans and Otto Harburg’s score bubbles with still-snappy song-and-dance numbers like “Tea for Two” and “I Want to be Happy.” The setup — a Bible salesman with a saucy daughter visits sinful Atlantic City, where humorous misunderstandings ensue — provides fodder for frothy, flapper frippery. 

It’s not just former churches that bring fine music to town. Along with hosting its usual religious services, Central Lutheran Church at 18th and Potter has long been a vital venue for chamber music, and Thursday, June 13, it hosts a free concert (if you bring a canned food donation) featuring one of the several vibrant Oregon early music groups that have emerged recently, Ensemble Primo Seicento, featuring Margret Gries, Doug Sears, Bodie Pfost and Kate Rogers playing ancient instruments (or replicas) such as the cornetto, sackbut and period versions of violin and organ. These historically informed experts will play lively music of the early 17th century (a nice warm up for the Oregon Bach Festival, whose namesake was influenced by some of these sounds) by Italian composers such as Dario Castello, opera pioneer Francesco Cavalli and more.

Churches often make wonderful venues for chamber music because the relatively small ensembles originally performed in places of similar size — or even smaller — than today’s massive concert halls. But some of the greatest chamber music is composed for even cozier settings. On June 15, you can hear two of classical music’s greatest chamber masterpieces in a house concert that benefits the Oregon Mozart Players, several of whose members will perform one of Mozart’s most beautiful works, his String Quintet K. 515, a movement from Franz Schubert’s great “Death and the Maiden” string quartet and his “Arpeggione” sonata. Unlike Ensemble Primo Seicento, the musicians will play a viola wielded by Clark Spencer. It’s especially appropriate to hear Schubert’s music in such a setting because much of it was originally played during his lifetime in house concerts called “Schubertiades.” 

The downside of house concerts is that there isn’t that much room available, even in this expansive venue with a view of the Willamette’s Coast Fork, so you’ll need to grab ’em quick (345-6648). If you miss out, though, there’ll be other opportunities, because this is the first in a series of these small-scale shows. Along with the mostly jazz-oriented Broadway House concerts we told you about last month, this new series represents a welcome new — or rat