Ron Wasserman, front left, with the New York Jazzharmonic. (Photo by Mihyun Kang)
This article was first published on NyackNewsandViews.com. GO HERE to read it in its original form.
By Steven P. Marsh
Ron Wasserman fell in love with the seductive syncopations and improvisations of jazz as a young musician, but the relationship faded and he abandoned tiny, smoky jazz clubs in favor of the New York State Theater in 1988, when he landed a permanent job playing double bass in the New York City Ballet Orchestra.
Nearly three decades later, sparks are flying again between the 54-year-old musician and his youthful obsession: He started a 17-piece big band, the New York Jazzharmonic, last year, and is presenting its next concert, featuring famed violinist Lara St. John and tango artist J.P. Jofre, this Sunday at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia in Manhattan.
Posted in Concerts, Jazz, Music, News
Tagged big band, Fred Hellerman, J.P. Jofre, Jazz, Lara St. John, New CIty, New York Jazzharmonic, Nyack News and Views, NyackNewsandViews.com, Ron Wasserman, Symphony Space, The Weavers
There was a lot to celebrate at Symphony Space in Manhattan on Monday night.
First, it was the reason everybody was there: a musical tribute to Kurt Weill’s longest-running Broadway show, One Touch of Venus, with an amazing orchestra and a fabulous array of singers.
First, it was the 70th anniversary of the snappy show — down to the day!
Second, it turned out to be the eve of the release of the decade-delayed Jay Records cast recording of the full show, which features quite a few of the singers from the Symphony Space performance — including a transcendent Melissa Errico (who noted “I’m wearing same dress I word 20 years ago … after three kids,” referring to her star turn in the lead role of the 1996 Encores! revival), the always- welcome Ron Raines, and the smooth-voiced Brent Barrett. (It’s available now on iTunes, with a CD release to follow at an unspecified date.)
Third, the chief dancer from the original production, Sono Osato— whose work we got to see in a wonderful collage of moving and still images at the top of the show — was in the audience and took the spotlight for a hearty round of applause. Continue reading
My first exposure to Amy X Neuburg (please no period after the X!), the San Francisco-based avant-cabaret singer-percussionist, came at NYC’s Symphony Space during the 2003 Bang on a Can Marathon. She did a riveting set of live-looped, manipulated vocals and percussion that left a strong impression on me. Unlike so many singers who emphasize such vocal manipulation, Amy demonstrated from the first note that she had a strong voice. She wasn’t using her electronics as a crutch for a weak vocal instrument, but as a way to express her art and enhance a beautiful natural instrument.
In a chat after her performance, I talked to Amy about her voice, and she explained that she had operatic vocal training, but her art led her in a different direction.
Amy has always gone her own way. In the Nineties she mined a pop vein with her Amy X Neuburg and Men ensemble, then stuck mostly with solo cabaret-style performance in subsequent years, turning out beautiful recordings like Six Little Stains in 2003 and Residue the following year.
Her wonderfully inventive mind and obvious love of all sort of musical styles makes her a delight to hear and see, but a bit of a marketing challenge. Is her act cabaret, musical theater, performance art, contemporary classical? The labels don’t really matter. She’s a massive talent whose work is always fresh and entertaining.
Amy, who rocks a vintage Lisa Loeb-ish look, is back with an ensemble on The Secret Language of Subways. This time it’s Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet, a trio of female cellists. With its blending of her voice, electronics and the full range of the cellos — which may well be the most expressive string instruments around — TSLOS is Amy’s best work yet. The 13-song cycle works well as a story arc — a sort of unstaged musical — but the indivdual songs are so finely crafted and tuneful that they can stand on their own quite well.
Amy says the project grew out of her love for the “expressive voice-like quality, enormous pitch range and dramatic look of the cello — I felt I had found a sort of instrumental kindred spirit to my own voice.” Continue reading