Review: Deborah Drayer – Pearl Django, USA

Pearl Django-Pic-Fix

Pearl Django and “Le Jazz Hot”  April 5, 2014 at the Westmoreland Congregational UCC.

The last concert of this season’s John E. Marlow Guitar Series left us on both an upbeat and a downbeat note.  The upbeat was the original sound of Pearl Django, a fine quintet of two guitars (Selmer Maccaferri style guitars), violin, accordion and bass from Seattle which dished out a unique blend of gypsy, jazz and bluesy sounds dotted with tricky improvisations that had the audience breaking into spontaneous applause, piece after beat-bopping piece.

The first set kicked off with Daphne, a saucy hit by Django Reinhardt that got things moving and it was all uphill from there.  The Marlow Guitar audience typically doesn’t applaud in the middle of a work (it’s not like a Bach fugue is going to get people clapping before it’s over); so, it’s a breath of fresh air for us to let loose for a night and take in the bohemian freedom that comes with a genre we don’t usually hear on the Series or WETA during morning/evening rush hours.  Perhaps if the station played an occasional Pearl Django ditty like Prozac Musette there might be less road rage noted during the traffic reports.  But, last night, we, at least, had our collective blood pressure lowered and drove home with a good grip of finger clicking energy.

I may have imagined it but I picked up on a hint of the Appalachian in Daphne that just goes to show our musical DNA is connected across continents and ages.  It’s not coincidental that a tune which may have started out in eastern Europe might find its way to the eastern mountains of the New World, but you should hear it for yourselves, if not in person, on their CDs:  my personal favorite is Modern Times (though Daphne‘s not on it), but there are more recent recordings including Eleven and other notables.  A quick visit to Pearl Django’ s website will provide you with many of the delightful sounds we heard last Saturday, so do yourself a favor and visit:  http://www.pearldjango.com/files/cdcatalog.htm.  You’re sure to add a distinctive sound to your recorded collections.

Regarding the downbeat of the evening, the John E. Marlow Guitar Series’ long time Artistic Director, and impresario debonair, Regis Ferruzza, is retiring after a lifetime of service to the series and broader Washington community.  For 20 years, Regis and Tim Healy have been the dynamic duo behind this successful venture and Regis will be missed by all who know and have worked with him over his career… from serving his country in uniform, to accomplished performer, instructor and mentor to the many artists who have made their way to the stage of this exceptional series. Regis will be returning to his home town of Pittsburgh to take in the stellar Italian cooking of his beloved sister and kicking back to listen, no doubt, to all that cornerstone town of America has to offer.  We wish Regis all the best as he transitions to the next chapter and turns the page on a job well done.  One never knows until one has to walk in another’s shoes all that individual has shouldered; and, I can tell you from one who has helped a bit in the search for the right person to take his place how much Regis has contributed to this town’s musical aesthetic.  Please join me in wishing Regis the fondest of farewells.  We hope he will come back and visit to just relax, listen, and let others do the job of making six Saturdays a year the highlight of their season.  Thank you Regis!  We could not have done it without you.

– Deborah Drayer

Review: Deborah Drayer – Rupert Boyd, Classical Guitarist from Australia

JEMGSweb_squares_RBLast Saturday, Rupert Boyd visited the John E. Marlow Guitar Series for the second time in almost as many years and wooed the audience with his homespun talent and good wit including a splendid range of repertoire from Dowland and Bach to Sor, Granados, Piazzolla and a spicy dip of Australian indigenous inspired music by Sculthorpe. The great gift Marlow offers its audience is the international flavor of artists who never fail to introduce us to sounds from their homelands along with many of their own arrangements of well-known classics like the Valses Poeticos by Granados originally written for piano and effectively refashioned by Rupert for guitar. And, the tricky Otono Porteno which inspired an enemy of Piazzolla’s to challenge him, at gunpoint no doubt, to “stop messing with the Tango!” Who could have blamed the guy, even the most accomplished dancers might trip over their feet sliding to the beat of that irregularly twisted opus, but what fun they would have doing it! And, Mozart would have been thrilled with the Suite in E Major, first written for violin, then lute and graciously articulated by Rupert with its own gavotte and menuetts. Between the waltzes, gigue, tango and assorted dances, it was an evening of fanciful movement all around.

Be sure to join us for the last concert of the season on April 5th when Pearl Django brings us their own unique blend of gypsy, jazz and swing. You won’t be disappointed.

– Deborah Drayer

Rupert Boyd, Australia – March 15, 2014

Reposted from the International Conservatory of Music blog.

JEMGSweb_squares_RB

We can feel the love.  450 people came out Saturday night to hear our John E. Marlow Guitar Series March 15 performance.

We heard a pre-concert performance by our Beatty Music Scholarship Competition Grand Prize winner, Infinity Willner. She played a wonderful Joropo by Merlin.

Then we sat back to enjoy the sensitive and evocative music of our featured performer, Rupert Boyd (Australia), making his triumphant return to the Marlow Guitar Series stage. He played Dowland, Piazzola , JS Bach, Fernando Sor and Granados and some evocative, contemporary music of Peter Schulthorpe, all of it with great musicality and charm.

This performance was one of the stops on Rupert Boyd’s US tour, organized in cooperation with the International Conservatory of Music (ICM)  and the Embassy of Australia. ICM’s Project Manager, Bill Herrmann, organized the tour, sending Mr. Boyd to perform in New York City, NY, Buffalo, NY, Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, Honolulu, HI, San Francisco, CA Flagstaff, AZ, Phoenix, AZ, and Muncie, IN!

We would like to express our thanks to the Embassy of Australia for their sponsorship of the splendid “Meet-the-Artist” Reception this past Saturday night. The weatherman cooperated by delivering a balmy 60 degree day and a full moon!  All and all, we would have to call the entire evening, super incredible.

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