Showing posts from June, 2022

Touring version Lovano-Douglas Sound Prints quintet finishes two-day run at Jazz Kitchen

There's no reason to think that, based on their respective discographies alone, Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas would not perform well together. Career-long they have both set themselves in different jazz contexts and found ways to shape every collaboration I've heard, and both their compositions and their improvisational outreach are not narrowly focused.  4/5 of Sound Prints: Penman, Douglas, Royston, Lovano. I was curious about Sound Prints, the quintet in which the saxophonist and the trumpeter form the front line, partly because provocative commentary by the late Stanley Crouch once linked Lovano and Douglas by way of contrast. He found the saxophonist receptive to and comfortable in the black tradition; the trumpeter, kind of an outsider. Any one of several eminent black trumpeters "would turn him into a puddle on the bandstand," Crouch outrageously proclaimed. Such invective suggested that these two white musicians might not feel comfortable together. Yet Sound P

56th Indianapolis Early Music Festival launches with Chatham Baroque's return

Chatham Baroque's "Three Violins" exquisitely balanced. In the opening slot once again, Chatham Baroque made its first return to the Indianapolis Early Music Festival since 2013 (when this blog was just a month old, and teething already). Friday night the Pittsburgh-centered ensemble came back to town, again with guests, who enabled the band to present the program "The Three Violins" at the Indiana History Center . It's not hard to begin by praising the ensemble's performance of the best-known piece in the concert: Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D, here with its Gigue conclusion intact. An ingeniously simple, productive short phrase forms the canon, which is subject to indefinite repetitions potentially. That certainly makes it a fixture in wedding processions, whose timing may vary and thus require music that can be honorably cut off when all are assembled. The rapid tempo was welcome, and all the ornamentation of the canon fell into place handsomel

'Greetings from Spain' privileges the orchestral harp in more ways than one

 Whatever the pure spectacle on offer with this weekend's program by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, all the stars above Hilbert Circle Theatre Friday night seemed aligned to celebrate principal harpist Diane Evans. Diane Evans will join the Oberlin faculty. She's retiring after 40 seasons in that position, as was pointed out in the statement preceding the announcement that she is this year's winner of the Patch Award. That's the annual honor given to an ISO member whose musicianship and musical good citizenship is worth distinction. (The award honors Renato Pacini, who had a 60-year ISO career, ending in 1998, including posts as associate conductor and assistant principal first violin.) Her charming spotlight in the video series of individualized member portraits made several years ago was shown again before the second half. The aura that the award presentation had called up before the music started took on new luster. In that interview, supplemented by her playin

Indianapolis Symphony's top leader looks past uncertainty into a secure future

When a period of designed transition is drawn out, any organization may have to fight the appearance of inertia. For a performing-arts organization that relies on public perception that it's actively offering its product and continuously soliciting and receiving support, that's dangerous territory. James M. Johnson took over as CEO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in 2018, when the tenure of music director Krzysztof Urbanski was heading toward an end. The next year, a search committee was set up to appoint a successor. Urbanski's decade at the artistic helm was due to culminate at the end of the 2020-21 season. COVID-19 delayed the orchestra's next stage, as it did in so many of the ways society brings people together.  "The pandemic threw a wrench into our efforts," Johnson told me in an interview early this week. "Any other time we would have been further along." James M. Johnson brought administrative experience in New York and Omaha to the

Fonseca Theatre Company's 'Fade': Finding your place in society tests the identity you may claim

One of the advantages of white-skin privilege for an American man came home to me as I attended Lucia becomes fascinated with Abel's story. "Fade" Saturday afternoon: I've never had to choose which aspect of being a white man I need to defend.  I haven't had to apply my status or ambitions, either personal or professional, in order to find a context for them. I'm not proud of this, because I haven't had to do anything to avoid such a burden. For long, it was the default setting for many Americans. For traditionally marginalized groups, an acceptable personal identity has to be claimed, nurtured and defended while resisting imposed constraints and keeping internal and external demons at bay. It's an ongoing task for the two characters in Tanya Saracho 's play, whose production by the Fonseca Theatre Company was pandemic-delayed by two years. They have to sort out even what to call their people, and nothing less than how to properly designate Mexica