Showing posts from December, 2021

'Fiddler' without voices: Kelly Hall-Tompkins takes a holiday

 Part of the aura of "Fiddler on the Roof" into which Kelly Hall-Tompkins stepped about five years Kelly Hall-Tompkins ago is its status as an enduring monument of the American musical stage. In the title role, the violinist's association with a revived Broadway production of the 1964 hit musical has resulted in a clutch of arrangements (hers and chiefly Oran Eldor's) showcasing her virtuoso skills, usually with the accompaniment of accordion, double bass and guitar. The instrumentation keeps the folk flavor of the Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick music intact. It also reflects the sensitivity, wit, and pathos of Joseph Stein's book and its rootedness in stories by Sholem Aleichem about village life of Jews living under tsarist rule just after the turn of the 20th century. In a touring presentation Thursday night at Madam Walker Theater Center , Hall-Tompkins sailed through a selection of the musical adaptations she commissioned and, in the case of "If I Were a Ri

Dover Quartet continues its fresh perspective on Beethoven's string quartets

It's good to follow what the Midwestern-based Dover Quartet has to say definitively as it makes its way through the Beethoven cycle for Cedille Records . A couple of months ago, "Volume 2: The Middle Quartets" was issued, and I've just gotten around to listening to the three-disc set thoroughly. The experience sustains my initial reaction to the Dover's expressive unanimity and technical élan. Here's part of what I wrote the first time I heard the Dover Quartet in person two years ago at a concert presented by Ensemble Music Society : "The Dover launched its appearance with an impulsive but well-knit account of Beethoven's Quartet in F minor, op. 95, dubbed Serioso after a word in the heading of its third movement. The atmosphere suggested by the word was sustained, even through the lickety-split coda of the finale. The dour feeling of the slow movement, with its downward sliding phrases, had notable sweetness from the first violin and strikin

Adam and Sully: Two-piano format can work smoothly when jazz musicians establish rapport

Adam Birnbaum recalled in an interview for American Pianists Association that his lessons with established master Kenny Barron  used to consist of student and teacher each seated at his own piano in Barron's studio just playing through songs. Explicit teaching came mainly in the form of Barron challenging Birnbaum to pick up tunes he didn't know as Barron glided through  them. The teaching that took place was by example, mutual regard and spontaneous modeling. Even when two pianists are on an equal professional footing, the learning and teaching can go back and forth as an audience is being entertained. That's the premise that was carried through to fruition in "Adam & Sully," part of the Grand Encounters series of concerts the APA is presenting this season. Suitable to the genre, this encounter took place at the Jazz Kitchen, home for many years for the piano-trio and solo phases of the APA competition in jazz. Birnbaum won it in 2004; Sullivan Fortner, his

Steve Allee's commissioned program builds on legacy, displays vision

The music offered in "Steve Allee : Vision and Legacy" rests firmly on both parts of its title. The longtime Indianapolis pianist-bandleader brought to the public Friday some new compositions and arrangements that showcased the best (and best-prepared) version of his big band within recent memory. The official poster alone was tantalizing enough. Allee's customary acknowledgment of those musicians, friends, and relatives who helped him develop here moved front and center. "A Tribute to Indianapolis Jazz Mentors" was the show's all-important subtitle. The vision proceeds from there. His gratitude was infectious, and was returned by the near-capacity audience at the event presented by the Indy Jazz Fest and the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation. The Schrott Center for the Arts at Butler University proved to be the ideal setting to represent the full scope of Allee's imagination, in addition to presenting his selection of musicians in the best light.  Anchoring