I’ve been able to get myself to some wonderful music over the past two weeks and now I’ve finally got the time to give these artists deserve.
The first on my list is Jherek Bischoff who played two talent-packed performances back to back at St. Ann’s Warehouse. I got to see the Wednesday evening performance, the first flexing of this powerhouse team of creative muscle. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.
The format of the concert recalled a classical environment - the ensemble, contemporaneous, already on stage with violins, clarinets, and trumpets resting on laps waiting for the performance to begin with the entrance of the conductor, David Bloom, and the man of the hour himself, Mr. Bischoff. Taking the stage, Bischoff gave us a little hint of the attitude of the evening, sporting a traditional tuxedo and an amazing pair of patent gold shoes. There’s a brief pause as Mr. Bloom raises his hands to cue the start, instruments are tucked under chins and brought to lips. Bischoff and Bloom exchange a glance and house explodes with electrifying music.
These players did not sit stiff and simply play off the score, but engaged with the same rock and roll flare and sexy confidence as their five-piece band counterparts. Bloom masterfully articulated the music through wrist and fingertips with the swagger and command of an animation dancer. Bischoff knelt besides the featured instrumentalists and the two performers riffed off each other’s electric energy. No, this was not a sit down ensemble.
The first half featured Bischoff’s own music, and with names like Sondre Lerche, Mirah, and living legend David Byrne supporting you, it’s easy to understand how any artist may wish to pass along the microphone. No, Bischoff didn’t sing at all for this performance but between the charismatic music and even more endearing stage banter, Bischoff shone among his guests.
The second half of the performance featured songs by the guest artists as arranged by Bischoff, shedding a new light on some classic favorites as well as songs new to everyone. Nika Danilova (aka Zola Jesus) was a particular stand out for me, performing with an intimidating intensity and control. It nearly goes without saying that the highlight of the evening was having the pleasure to watch David Byrne perform. Despite his iconic status there was an inviting intimacy about the performance and he often looked to and engaged with the young performers.
I left the concert with a great feeling of impact, not only because I had just heard gorgeous music, but also because it was the type of collaborative experience that imparts faith in the possible. Genres can and should be defied, fame and status are only obstacles if you let them be, and if you’re good, if you possess a true passion for your art, as Bischoff and all the performers on that stage clearly did, others will support, love, and be changed by you. The artist’s job is to create, but it is the audience’s lot to let themselves be transformed - and I for one had no trouble surrendering.