Let's Hear It

Craig Freeman

It's known under many names - "gypsy jazz," "jazz manouche," "hot club," or "Django jazz" - and refers to the popular music of 1930s Parisian clubs and cafés, pioneered by Romani musician Django Reinhardt and others.  The appeal for musicians and listeners alike is a strong as ever - the music is melodic, danceable, humorous, virtuosic and a little subversive. WMUK contributor Craig Freeman spent an hour in WMUK's Takeda studio with Kalamazoo-based  musicians The Birdseed Salesmen:  Helen Yee on violin, Nathan Tabor on lead guitar, and Jay Gavan on rhythm guitar. 

Tabor says the group's name is a reference to the film Sweet And Lowdown, which followed the story of a fictional Django-era guitarist. The Birdseed Salesmen play Reinhardt's own "Nuages," and "Douce Ambiance," Lew Pollack's "Two Cigarettes in the Dark," and "Tchavolo Swing" by Tchavolo Schmidt.

WMU School of Music

A concert of works for two pianos is set for 7:30 pm Wednesday, Jan 15 in the Dalton Center Recital Hall at WMU. School of Music professors Lori Sims and Yu-Lien The will play Ravel's Rhapsodie espagnole, Debussy's En blanc et noir, and Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (arr. John Musto). They talk to Cara Lieurance about the ease of their chemistry and their choice to situate the pianos side-by-side, rather than facing the other. 


courtesy of the artist

Weiyin Chen, a Juilliard-trained pianist and longtime friend of conductor Andrew Koehler, makes her third appearance with the Kalamazoo Philharmonia at 7:30 pm Saturday, Nov 16 by giving her first performance of Tchaikovsky's monumental Piano Concerto No. 1 . Chen and Koehler join Cara Lieurance to preview the concert and highlight the other works on the program: Overture by Polish composer Grazyna Bacewicz and Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations.


Gulnara Khamatova

The original music and improvisations of both Rob Clearfield and alto saxophonist Caroline Davis is the starting point for the jazz quartet Persona, which is bringing its new album, Anthems, on tour to Western Michigan University at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, Nov 12 in the Dalton Center Recital Hall. Joining them on the album, and on tour, are bassist Sam Weber and drummer Jay Sawyer, both Western Michigan University jazz alumni. All four Persona members and WMU professor of jazz drums Keith Hall joined Cara Lieurance in the studio to talk about their work and listen to some of the new tracks.


courtesy of the artist

Composer David Colson, who founded the new music ensemble Birds On A Wire not long after joining the WMU School of Music in 2007, previewed the group's concert with Cara Lieurance. It's set for  7:30 pm on Wednesday, Oct 30 in the Dalton Center Recital Hall. Not only is it "themed" for Halloween, it will feature the world premiere of Colson's Ghost Music, a new piece for solo marimba. Colson talks about writing the pieces for Matthew Coley, a leading solo percussionist and a master of an array of global percussion instruments.


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