Saturday, March 7, 2009

A World of Possibilities

Last night's Mike Marshall Big Trio show at The Cedar was an incredible demonstration of how music can open your heart and soul to a world of endless possibilities.

When I first booked this show last November, it was just going to be Mike's new trio- featuring two "hot young players," or so I was told by their booking agent. I'm a big Mike Marshall fan, so as far as I was concerned, as long as it worked within my budget constraints, it was a no-brainer.

Then, in January, I was informed that Mike had invited two German mandolin/lute players, who were going to be playing a big mandolin concert with Mike in Chicago the following night, to join him at The Cedar gig. Further, since the show was then going to be more mandolin-centric, Mike also wanted to invited our native son mandolin poster boy (and long time Cedar fave), Peter Ostroushko. Was that OK with me, and could I throw a little more money into the mix to give the additional musicians something?

Even though it was already a bit late for us to market the new line-up effectively (and nobody really knew how it was all going to be structured), I readily agreed; I love throwing great musicians together and seeing what happens!

The show turned into an incredibly fascinating survey of the history of the mandolin, with the two Germans, Caterina Lichtenberg and Mirko Schrader, starting the evening with Vivaldi, Gershwin and Munier. All three of these duets happen to be on YouTube from a concert they gave earlier this week in California. Here's the Gershwin:

What followed was a far and wide sampling of the mandolin in a variety of settings through time and space by an amazingly talented set of musicians. Peter Ostroushko brought out Dan Chouinard (piano, accordion) for some American immigrant mandolin tunes, and they were joined by Mike and his trio for a few great ensemble pieces.

Mike and Caterina opened the second set with a transcription of a Bach solo violin piece, excerpted here:

So by the time we got around to the actual Mike Marshall Big Trio part of the evening, you know, that thing which I had actually originally booked, we had already heard nearly two hours of amazing music, ranging from classical to "Minnesota blues" to Brazilian choro. As it happened, it was a natural progression to what could be called the future of mandolin music, since Mike specifically composed these tunes for this trio featuring 22-year old bassist Paul Kowert (now also playing with Punch Brothers, who return to The Cedar with a new set for us on April 5), and 16-year old wunderkind Alex Hargreaves (yes, that's no typo, this kid is only 16!). And again, thanks to YouTube, here is one of my favorite compositions from the evening's set, "Sleeping Giant":

A truly profound evening. Thank you, Mike Marshall!

1 comment:

Dotty said...

Thanks for thinking outside of the box. I attended Mike's Mandolin Symposium this summer and became acquainted with Caterina's phenomenal musicianship. It was a real pleasure to see them in this format.

I really enjoyed Mike's new trio as well. What a terrific evening!