New England Conservatory's fall Reunion this year celebrates the 40th year of NEC's Contemporary Improvisation program. In tonight's concert, current CI chair Hankus Netsky and his fellow alum and colleague from Klezmer Conservatory Band, Judy Bressler '81 DP (in photos), co-host a sizzling variety of alumni-driven acts.
Bressler, a third-generation Yiddish performer who headlines Judy Bressler's Klezmer Kabaret and Cabaret Jude, will also perform as a featured vocalist tonight.
Bressler and Netsky open each half of the program with a song: "Forget Me Not" (Bressler/Netsky) and "Vilne" (Wolfson/Olshanetsky).
Tonight's acts may begin to suggest the range of music that has found a home in this unique program of study: from Brazilian flute to American fiddle, and guitarists who range in style from flamenco to "screaming headless torsos."
Guitarist Dave Fiuczynski '89, '08 M.M. is one-third of the band Screaming Headless Torsos and teaches at Berklee College of Music. This 2011 Guggenheim Fellow will preview some microtonal Jamz with his new Planet MicroJam Institute Ensemble, a quartet that includes Utar Dündarartun on microtonal keyboards, Justin Schornstein on bass, and Alex "BisQuit" Bailey on drums. The set will include Sun Ra's Sun Song, Julian Carrillo's En Secreto, and the Fiuczynski original Arcadia Finlandis.
Pan-Latin ensemble Sol y Canto is led by Puerto Rican/Argentine singer and bongo player Rosi Amador and New Musican guitarist and composer Brian Amador '83. As you will see in this video, their music is good enough to eat! They perform tonight in a snack-size trio-plus-one, with a set that includes Brian Amador's Fantasma and Tu jardin, and Simón Diaz's Tonada de luna llena.
Brian Amador '83, composer/guitarist, musical director
Rosi Amador, lead vocals, bongos, small percussion
Alisa Amador, guest vocals
Keala Kaumeheiwa '97 TMIJP, bass
Brazilian guitarist Sergio Brandão '84, '88 M.M. brings his nine-piece ensemble Manga Rosa, performing Brazilian Landscape Suite.
Fernando Brandão '91 M.M., flute
Paul Lieberman, alto flute
Daniel Ian Smith '91 M.M., soprano saxophone
Greg Hopkins, trumpet and flugelhorn
Maxim Lubarsky, piano
Henrique Eisenmann, guest pianist
Fernando Huergo '94, bass
Bertram Lehmann, drums
Negah Santos, percussion
Sergio Brandão '84, '88 M.M., guitar, compositions
"Brandão has orchestrated a paean to his homeland's rhythmic diversity and spiritual fire," says the Boston Phoenix.
Jonathan "Juanito" Pascual '97 has been called "a kind of Ry Cooder of flamenco guitar" (Boston Globe). He's gone from directing an annual flamenco institute at NEC's Boston GuitarFest, to appearing alongside Steve Martin and Andy Garcia in the film Pink Panther 2.
Tonight, he'll perform solo in Rio, as well as with the Juanito Pascual New Flamenco Trio—where he is joined by Tupac Mantilla '07 M.M. on percussion, and doctoral student Brad Barrett on bass—in Mamoni.
Fiddler/folk singer Lissa Schnecken-burger '01 is happy to explain in this video why what she does is "child's play."
All Music Guide goes a bit farther though, calling her playing "quietly virtuosic." The Boston Globe calls her a "literate, catchy songwriter." Tonight, she performs the traditional song "The Logger's Boast" and the Tommy James classic "Crimson and Clover."
"CB" Calloway Brooks '80 has taken on the mantle of his legendary bandleader grandfather, Cab Calloway. Ken Schaphorst and the NEC Jazz Orchestra fill out the stage for a trip through Calloway hits "Utt Da Zoy" and "Minnie the Moocher," along with Dizzy Gillespie's "Pickin' the Cabbage" and Earl Warren's "9:20 Special."