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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Harlem Quartet

The McPherson Opera House
McPherson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013
Ilmar Gavilan, Melissa White, Matthew Zalkind, Jaime Amador Medina

The Harlem Quartet . . .this group has a lot of spunk!  When you go to a Harlem Quartet concert you are going to get a high energy performance.

The show opened with classical selections that only a string quartet can play.  They were restful but upbeat and held your attention.  The group plays with an upbeat, energetic style on every selection that they play whether it's classical or jazz or something else altogether.  I could tell that they really enjoy playing for an audience, although I imagine just playing is the thing for them.  The audience was held captive from the very first note. 

After a brief intermission, the musical numbers did a change up and it was all about jazz.  The group has their first album out now, entitled "Take The A Train".  (It is currently sold out on Amazon.)  The audience heard violins, a viola, and a cello really put through their musical paces with exciting sounds that one would never thought could be brought forth from these simple instruments.  Some of the more memorable for me were: Mating Calls and Delta Rhythms, Creole Contradanzas and my personal favorite, Hellbound Highball.  The later tune mimics a train that appears to slow down briefly but never stops and then takes off again at a fevered pace.  The title track, the groups version of Take The A Train is amazing.

This group played background music for a couple of CD's that Chick Corea recently recorded.  (In fact, The Harlem Quartet played background music for a recent performance that Chick Corea played in Wichita at The Orpheum.)  Corea was up for three Grammy awards at this years event and won in two of the three categories.  The Harlem Quartet mentioned the fact that should Corea win, it would be a win for them as well, as Corea's back up band.  The running joke was that should they win Grammy's, their concert booking price was going to go way up!

If you get a chance to hear this group play in person, do check them out.  They are worth the price of admission, no matter what that price may be.  Also, buy a copy of their debut CD.  The music is terrific.

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