I had the pleasure of attending a house concert in Louisville by the Jeremy Siskind Trio. Siskind has recently released the excellent album Finger-Songwriter, which I reviewed on my sister site Bird is the Worm, and so it was an enviable situation to be able to see the music performed live while the glow was still hanging over the cd.
The concert was held in the lovely home of gracious hosts Shelley and Doug Finke, and they brought out an impressive crowd to hear the music… two full rooms of enthusiastic listeners.
Most of the songs performed came from Finger-Songwriter, though a few were not. The trio’s version of “Blackbird” was wonderfully brooding and spry. They also performed a version of the Ink Spot’s “Whispering Grass,” which the trio gave a whimsical twist to what they offered as an otherwise melancholy tune. Siskind related with a smile that they had made the song part of their repertoire based on a recommendation from Blue Note’s Bruce Lundvall, a recommendation they didn’t dare ignore. They also performed “Hymn of Thanks” from Siskind’s album Simple Songs, and the way it shifted from religious music motifs to jazz and then back to religious music was a nice highlight of the evening.
But the best moments belonged to songs from Finger-Songwriter.
Hearing the music live revealed elements of the music not as apparent on CD, and enhanced those that had been noticed. The deep soulfulness of Pino’s bass clarinet and Harms’ higher vocal registers were an intoxicating match in contradictions, one of the highlights of the album, but to hear them share the same four walls and ceiling simultaneously made the music both warmer and more haunting.
Pino’s best moments came on bass clarinet, then clarinet. The acoustics of the room better suited those instruments than the sax, though, also, the music asks for a bit more restraint, which may also have affected the sax play as well. Quite frankly, Pino could’ve gone all night on that bass clarinet, as far as I was concerned. It’s not an easy instrument to suss delicate nuance from, but Pino made it look like it was a snap.
Harms’ voice filled the room. Not sure I’d ever really noticed what a sorrowful song “What is that Feeling?” really is, until Harms ended it with the story of the man pulling the car over, unable to ignore any longer what his life has become. However, her personality gave a sly humor to the trio’s rendition of Billy Joel’s “All You Wanna Do is Dance,” which brought smiles to the faces of the crowd. Their performance of “Vanished Music, Twilit Water” is how moonlight sounds on a Summer’s eve.
Siskind stepped out from behind piano after each tune, talked a little about what each song meant to him, which made for a nice connection with the audience. Of course, the strongest connection was made with his piano. The Song “A Single Moment” was the perfect vehicle for Siskind to display his deftness at seamlessly transitioning from a state of serenity to one of tension. It was one of the evening’s brightest spots when Siskind let his urgent tone fall to the side to meet Pino’s clarinet for the restatement of that beautiful melody. On “One Art,” Siskind’s piano offered gentleness to Pino’s sax in the first half of the tune, then offered strength to Harms’ lilting vocals in the second half, creating not so much a bridge between the two halves, but, instead, solid ground on which the entire trio could thrive.
It was an evening of beautiful, outstanding music. My thanks to the musicians and concert hosts.
Here’s a link to Siskind’s blog, in which he writes about the tour as it proceeds. It also has lots of pictures.
Visit Siskind’s site for upcoming tour dates. As of the publication of this article, he’s got upcoming shows in Minneapolis, MN, Irvine, CA, Provincetown, MA, various locations in New York, Key West, FL, and then a trip to the UK. Go see this trio perform. It’s not to be missed.
My review of their album has plenty of other links and information, too, both in regards to the music and artists, as well as some embedded music from the album to listen to. Plus, there’s all types of other articles on modern jazz. Feel free to poke around. I typically include embedded audio so you can listen while you read, and most of my writing takes a conversational tone, so you won’t feel like you’re reading a dissertation on music… you’ll just be hearing about some great music that I want others to know about.
I’ll finish with a capital-A amateur video I took. It’s only for part of a song. I’m still getting used to the current tools of the trade in my possession, while recognizing I need to get better ones. By the point when I realized that my shot was drowning in shadows, I cut the shot. But at least you get a sense of what’s going on…
(All rights to the video remain with the artists, who can do with it what they please.)