More music – Bluestreet Jazz Voices and SJC’s concerts

Last weekend was quite vocal. Vocal in the sense of being full of vocal music. On Saturday Amy and I went to watch the end-of-season concert for the Bluestreet Jazz Voices (BJV for short, because I’m lazy) at The Triple Door (T3D). It’s the first time I go to T3D, and second time I listen to BJV. I’ll split my review in two parts: the group and the location:

The group: Before I talk about BJV I have to admit that I’m not a very experienced Jazz listener. I’ve heard some things here and there, and I’ve even played some Jazz on the clarinet with a friend of mine in Stillwater, but that’s all I know. So when I go to a jazz concert, I’m always a little overwhelmed by the amount of “inside jokes” that exist and I really don’t get. My perception is that a good part of jazz is to play around with known tunes, both in the basic jazz book, or the ones that were popular throughout the life of the composer. So, if you don’t really know the tunes, it isn’t as exciting.

So, in the side of knowing the tunes, I was still partly at a loss at this concert. Their theme was “childhood” or “growing up” (or something like that), which meant that they started the concert with a lot of themes from a “normal” American childhood: Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, and others. Unfortunately, the tunes that they were singing were not things that seemed to be part of my memories of those shows, as during my childhood they were dubbed to Portuguese.

Putting the theme recognition aside, came the actual music being done: all of excellent quality. They are a group of 20 singers, most in soloist level (and many of them did actual solos), so there isn’t much they need to hide there. Also they had a quartet of musicians with them, drums, bass, saxophone and piano, which were also quite good. No virtuosity as I’ve seen in some jazz players, but I guess it was mostly because the focus was on the choir and not on the musicians.

In summary, I would highly recommend people to go and see them next season. Even if you don’t know much of jazz like me, you can still enjoy great musicianship.

The place: T3D is a very interesting place for watching concerts. It has the feeling of that dinner-concert place you’d see in movies, where all tables face the stage and you can order food and drinks while you watch. The sound quality was good, but because of the ambient noise of people eating, it required amplification. Choirs with amplification never sound as “deep”, unfortunately, but it was quite good for the space. During the music itself the lights are quite dim, so it’s hard to actually eat, but not impossible.

I would certainly consider going again to see other concerts. Maybe next time I’ll either plan to eat before or eat there. This time we only had some appetizers and then went for dinner afterwards. The food is a little overpriced, but seeing everybody eating when you are hungry doesn’t help with the experience.

So now it’s time to talk about the Seattle Jewish Chorale Season Finale concert at Town Hall on Sunday. It will be a brief review of it, because being on the singing side of it you don’t get to have the full experience of the concert.

In any way, if you missed it, I’m quite sorry for you. It was a great concert. All pieces sounded much better than they did on any other occasions, including rehearsals. Even my solo (well, it was a duet with another singer) actually sounded good, which kind of shocked me. Town Hall was quite close to full, which is also a great sign, even with the fact that only two people that I’ve directly invited actually came.

So now the season is over and we get back together in September-ish to prepare for the next one. What will be interesting is to see how much the conductor will be excited about the results of this season and decide to “kick it up a notch” on challenges for the next one.

The symphony

Today was my last Seattle Symphony concert of the season. If you have followed my few posts in the past about going to the symphony you will see that I have been quite conflicted about it. There are some days that at the end of the concert I’m much happier, elated by the music. At the same time, there are some days that I leave feeling like I was just not mentally able to connect to the music, as my brain was either too tired, or still thinking of work things.

Today was one of the latter cases. As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m working in a quite complicated project that has been taking a lot of my mental abilities. It saddens me that it can ruin the experience of such a good concert: a set of pieces by French composers conducted by Gerard Schwarz, in his last season as the conductor for the Seattle Symphony (although he will be conducting the symphony in the future, and a lot during the next season, officially his contract is over at the end of this season).

The concert started with Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune from Claude Debussy. Very nice and poetic piece. Then came Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22, with Simon TrpĨeski playing the piano. Brilliant pianist! Made this very complex piece seem so easy! It was the public’s favorite piece by far.

The second half of the concert started with Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel, my favorite piece of the evening. It was also mostly due to it being the piece I was able to focus the most on the music and think less about work. The concert ended with Ernest Chausson’s Symphony in B-flat major, Op. 20. A very slow symphony by a less known composer, which I enjoyed as being the only piece I don’t think I have heard before.

I think the most significant think about the concert is that I decided that I was not going to renew my season tickets next year, and focus on trying new things with Amy. Possibly going to the opera more, a ballet, and some plays. Then, after I’ve tried it all, then I can make a decision of whether really my time at the symphony is what I really like. Goodbye AA-8. It was a great central seat!

The only other interesting thing to talk about today is that it took me almost 2 hours to get back home, because the symphony was out at the same time as the Sounders game, and the game was “upstream” in the bus line from me, which meant that I had to wait for 3 buses until I was able to get into the bus. Yes, you might be thinking that I’m Brazilian, so I should have just clung to the outside of the bus, or ridden on top of it, like my fellow countrymen, but I guess I decided just to wait.