Friday, June 3, 2011

Both Sides of the Fence

As I have mentioned before, I along with some other KSO members are involved in other genres of music in addition to classical. It was a always a dream of mine to be able to play a classical concert, and then wind down the evening with a bit of jazz, rock or alternative music. I find it virtually impossible to come home from a KSO service and jump into bed. I am a night person and I might as well be playing music- and earning money. That dream started to come true about five years ago. At the risk of omitting some friends, I will try to give a bit of an overview of the KSO’s fence-straddlers.

Violinist Liz Farr has probably been at this the longest. A Celtic harpist as well as a member of our second violin section, she formed Farr Horizons in 1986 with cellist D. Scot Williams and flutist Rachel Schlafer-Parton. A few years back cellist Stacy Miller joined the group, replacing Scot. The emphasis is on traditional American and Celtic styles. One shining moment (among many) for them was performing at Alex Haley’s farm in Norris when he hosted Oprah Winfrey.

Flutist Jill Allard has found herself on a similar path as a member of Red-Haired Mary, a band specializing in traditional and contemporary Irish and Celtic music. Although I thought I knew Jill pretty well, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that she sings, too! Joining her in RHM is violinist Erin Tipton Archer, who you may remember is the conductor of the KSO’s Junior Phiharmonia. Erin is no stranger to the alternative scene, having played with Erick Baker for many years, including Bonnaroo 2009.

If you’ve ever driven to a gig with her, you would know that oboist Ayca Yayman has very eclectic taste in music. It is no wonder then that she has gotten involved with an experimental fusion band called The Akashic Mysteries. This band is obviously influenced by the likes of Radiohead, Camper van Beethoven, and King Crimson, and Ayca’s occasional contributions add a very exotic touch.

As you might expect, a lot of the wind players cross over into the jazz realm. Trumpeter Stewart Cox, trombonists Brad MacDougall, Tom Lundberg, former principal trombonist Don Hough, and clarinetist Mark Tucker (saxophone) are all regulars with the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra. The KJO’s varied programing compliments the KSO’s “legit” offerings very nicely.

For myself, I am guilty of crossing the line into other realms also. It’s funny, but a friend of mine said I have been sounding a lot better in the last 3 or 4 years. This time-frame coincides with the time I have been playing swing and gypsy jazz with the Johnson Swingtet, the Space Heaters, and Kukuly and the Gypsy Curse. Coincidence? I don’t know. All I know is that I am playing more of it tonight, at 9:00 at the Bistro by the Bijou with Kukuly’s band. I’m glad we get a tab. Channeling Django Reinhardt and Pablo Casals works up quite an appetite.

No comments: