MusicWatch Weekly: Return engagements

Potent pianists, intrepid improvisers, and righteous reed players return to Oregon stages

Nope, that’s not deja vu you’re experiencing. Many of the recommended visiting musicians who are playing on Oregon stages this week really have been here — and won enthusiastic receptions — before, so if you missed them last time, here’s another chance. There’s a few first time visitors too. If you know of other worthy shows happening this week, sequels or otherwise, please tell ArtsWatch readers in the comments section below.

Akropolis Reed Quintet returns to Chamber Music Northwest. Photo: Tom Emerson.

Akropolis Reed Quintet returns to Chamber Music Northwest. Photo: Tom Emerson.

Ras Mix & Ergot Rye
October 5
Turn! Turn! Turn! 8 NE KIllingsworth, Portland.
The title of Ras Mix’s album The Stupidity of Safe pretty much describes his beat-heavy, vocal sample augmented approach to electronic music. Ergo Rye is Portland avant garde musician Jasin Fell’s industrial music meets improvisation project.

Student Performing Arts Troupe of Soochow University
October 5
Portland State University, Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave, Portland.
PSU’s Suzhou sister city university students perform traditional music of China on pipa and guzheng.

Rizzo/Wheeler Duo
October 7
Gallery 903, 903 NW Davis, Portland.
Before veteran Portland pianist Rhonda (Ringgering) Rizzo moves to Amsterdam, she’s giving a farewell performance with fellow pianist Molly Wheeler that includes music by Brahms, Barber, Piazzolla, Corigliano, Faure, and “Legacies” by University of Oregon composer Terry McQuilkin.

Gino Robair performs in Creative Music Guild's Extradition Series. Photo: Jane Richey.

Gino Robair performs in Creative Music Guild’s Extradition Series. Photo: Jane Richey.

Gino Robair and friends
October 7
Leaven Community Center, 5431 NE 20th Ave, Portland.
The percussionist/improviser/author/electronic musician and member of Splatter Trio and Pink Mountain has recorded and performed with musicians from Terry Riley to Tom Waits to John Zorn. This time, his friends include violinist Chiara Giovando, Portland bass clarinet wizard Jonathan Sielaff, and Portland dancer and sound artist Ayako Kataoka, who’ll join him a concert of improvisations springing from evolving graphic scores, mysterious spy radio signals, audience input, and texts from the opera I, Norton.

Jazz & The Beat Generation
October 7
Literary Arts, 925 SW Washington St. Portland.
PDX Jazz’s new adult education series, Discover Jazz, begins with Reed College prof Pancho Savery examining the influence of jazz masters like Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, Lester Young, and Thelonious Monk on Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and other “Beat Generation” writers of the 1940s and ’50s. The free event combines music, lecture and discussion.

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc
October 7
Nordia House, 8800 SW Oleson Rd., Portland.
Read Daniel Heila’s ArtsWatch preview.

Akropolis Reed Quintet
October 7,  First United Methodist Church, 1165 NW Monroe Avenue, Corvallis, and October 8, Winningstad Theatre, Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the trailblazing ensemble’s showcase featuring music of Gershwin, contemporary composers including the scintillating American composer Mark Mellits, and music from Baroque France.

October 8
Hi-Fi Lounge, 44 E 7th Avenue, Eugene.
The Seattle-based ensemble features Hammond B-3 organist Joe Doria’s grooving tributes to classic jazz organ trios led by near-namesake Captain Jack MacDuff and Jimmy Smith, but also contemporary original grooves.

Paul Safar & Friends
October 8
The Jazz Station, 124 W. Broadway, Eugene.
Best known for his Cherry Blossom Musical Arts productions with partner/singer Nancy Wood and for some of Cascadia Composers’ brightest moments, Eugene composer Paul Safar was named Oregon Composer of the Year in 2013 by the Oregon Music Teachers Association and this summer completed a prestigious composition residency in Alaska. Several of his recent classically inspired works draw on themes and imagery from nature, including the title track of his alluring new CD, The Warbler Sings. Soprano Wood, bassist Nathan Waddell and trumpeter Dave Bender join Safar on “Warbler,” a seven part setting of nature-inspired haiku by the famous Japanese poet Basho, whose styles touch on jazz, classical and other genres. Eugene’s Delgani Quartet will play Safar’s Moonfish with Wood, and the show features other music from this splendid new release.

Nancy Wood and Paul Safar (at piano) performed at Cascadia Composers' spring concerts.

Nancy Wood and Paul Safar (at piano) performed at Cascadia Composers’ spring concerts.

“The Armed Man”
October 8-9
Oregon Repertory Singers & Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson St. Portland.
For a composer previously best known for brief music for Levi’s and De Beers diamonds commercials, Karl Jenkins’s “mass for peace” for chorus and orchestra  is a surprisingly epic classical composition that not surprisingly (given the Welsh composer’s work for TV commercials and the jazz/prog fusion band Soft Machine) appeals to a non classical audience. Opening with the sound of marching feet, then martial drums and brass, then an aggressive choral anthem, the music invokes the Islamic call to prayer and other prayers for peace from the Bible, Mahabarata, poets, and a Hiroshima bombing survivor. This Oregon premiere also features organist Jonas Nordwall. The program also includes early Italian Baroque composer Giacomo Carissimi’s mass that uses the same ancient “armed man” tune and title, plus some of the most famous American music: Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei choral setting of his plangent Adagio.

Denis Kozhukhin performs at Portland Piano International. Photo: Felix Broede.

Denis Kozhukhin performs at Portland Piano International. Photo: Felix Broede.

Denis Kozhukhin
October 8 & 9
Portland State University,  Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave, Portland.
In these Portland Piano International solo recitals, the prizewinning young Russian pianist plays Handel, Franck, Bartok, Weber and Brahms on Saturday, and Ligeti, Haydn, Prokofiev, Liszt and Rachmaninoff on Sunday. Read Jana Griffin’s ArtsWatch preview of his 2015 PPI performance.

Oregon Symphony
October 8-10
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.
In an old-school standard issue Romantic program, pianist Marc-André Hamelin joins the band in Rachmaninoff’s much-played third piano concerto, and the orchestra plays a Wagner overture and a Sibelius symphony. Read Jana’s interview feature with Hamelin from one of his earlier Portland appearances.

Steve Lehman Trio
October 9
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland.
PDXJazz brings the brilliant alto sax virtuoso, who’s worked with musicians from Vijay Iyer to Jason Moran to So Percussion, and whose tight, incisive contemporary jazz has won acclaim from both jazz insiders and general audience reviewers like the NY Times and NPR.

Guy Mendilow Ensemble
October 9
Shedd Institute, 868 High Street, Eugene.
Read my ArtsWatch review of this program after its Portland State performance last year.

Guy Mendilow Ensemble performed at Portland State University last year and at the Shedd this weekend.

Guy Mendilow Ensemble performed at Portland State University last year and at the Shedd this weekend.

Simply Three
October 9
Newmark Theatre. Portland.
The bass, cello, violin trio plays pop music from Puccini to Coldplay on “classical” instruments, with some electronic enhancements.

Simply Three brings the flash to Portland's Winningstad Theatre.

Simply Three brings the flash to Portland’s Winningstad Theatre.

Xylouris White
October 11, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi, Portland, and October 13, WOW Hall, 291 W. 8th Ave. Eugene.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the duo featuring a Cretan lutenist and an Australian drummer.

Catherine Russell
October 11
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland.
Stay tuned for Angela Allen’s ArtsWatch preview of the superb New York jazz singer’s show.

The Threepenny Opera” (broadcast)
October 11 & 19
Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave, Portland.
Third Rail Repertory Theatre continues its sponsorship of NT Live!’s hi-definition screenings of British theatre live from London stages with Simon Stephens’s adaptation of Brecht & Weill’s scathing satire of institutional corruption.

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