Normally, my social anxiety problems keep me from attending live concerts, but when a grant brought the String Trio of New York to my Library, I didn't have any excuses to keep me from going. The longstanding band who recently celebrated their twentieth anniversary consists of James Emery on guitar, John Lindberg on bass and Rob Thomas on guitar. It was interesting and a little amusing to see a band who had played famous concert halls all around the world rehearsing in our staff kitchen and then setting up their music stands by the magazine rack in the reading room. They drew a pretty respectable crowd of about fifty people despite frequent downpours of rain during the day. Set one consisted of a lecture demonstration of what the band and their music was all about. They opened with a nice composition from a recently composed suite called "First Light", which was followed by talk, answering questions explaining what they do and how their music is similar and different to swing musicians the predominantly senior citizen audience was familiar with. A neat example of free improvisation followed and then the group explained about listening to each other and responding to what each was playing in real time. An excerpt of movement three from the "First Light" suite followed with discussion about improvisation and its role in their music. After an intermission the band returned to play a concert, beginning with a Duke Ellington composition called "Heaven," a gentle, yearning and melodic song which was ironically accompanied by a massive downpour of rain rattling and slapping against the windows and roof. A portion of the "First Light" suite called "E-Pedal" was performed next and featured a nice swirling guitar solo. To show the audience how each performance of a particular piece was different, the group played "First Light" movement three again, and this version was longer with a sweet sounding violin feature. Lindberg used his bass as percussion, slapping the body and popping the strings. They moved into a pointillist abstract improvisation, before building back to melody. A Lindberg composition called "Time" opening with a bass solo, followed by the other instruments entering slowly with a wide open feel. Another Lindberg composition concluded the concert, "The Anticipator" where the music kept building and buzzing, moving through different short sections that didn't resolve, but kept the anticipation of resolution hanging. There was a bowed bass solo, a very intense violin solo before a wild free ending. This was a very nice performance and I thought it was quite successful. Most of the audience stuck with it for the duration which is good, because I was worried that the challenging music might drive them away. If you get a chance to see this group live, definitely do so, the music was very exciting.
String Trio of New York - amazon.com
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