Music societies keep the sounds alive
For a town the size of Sonoma, it is pretty cool to see two music societies out there putting on shows, promoting their music, and enjoying the success that comes with it. I speak of the Sonoma Classical Music Society and the Sonoma Valley Jazz Society. Both organizations are extremely active in promoting their respective events, and in the coming months some excellent performers are coming to town, giving us a broader mix of music.
The Sonoma Classical Music Society, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2004 by George Ellman and Al Fisk. Its mission is to sponsor a series of classical music concerts of the highest quality, and to bring to Sonoma chamber music groups that may represent the unusual, such as Russian liturgical music and folk songs as well as the tried and true classics such as Beethoven’s Archduke Trio or any one of Mozart’s quartets. While most concerts are presented right in Sonoma, some of the concerts have been held at Valley wineries during the summer so attendees can relax outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the performance.
Part of the spring series for this year is the Alexander String Quartet, appearing at Vintage House on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. This is the group’s sixth appearance in Sonoma presented by the Society, and for this concert, they will perform Franz Joseph Haydn’s “String Quartet op. 70, no. 3 “Emperor;” Ludwig Van Beethoven’s “String Quartet #11 in F minor, op. 95 “Serioso;” and Franz Schubert’s “String Quartet No. 15 in G major.”
The concert will be recorded live by Sonoma’s Jack Kenny, a member of the Classical Music Society and a first rate master recording engineer. In fact, almost all of the concerts presented by the Society are recorded by Kenny, using an array of incredible sound equipment. (You may recall that one of my first articles in the Sonoma Sun was on Mr. Kenny and his passion for sound.)
Additional shows coming to Sonoma include a violin recital by Sonoma native Nigel Armstrong on Sunday, March 25 at 3 p.m. at the Sonoma Community Center. Nigel’s performance will include the John Corigliano “Stomp,” for which he won a special prize at last year’s Tchaikovsky Violin Compeition in St. Petersburg, Russia. Also coming up is a piano recital featuring Anastasia Dedik on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13 at 3 p.m. The location for the recital will be announced shortly.
The Sonoma Valley Jazz Society, also a non-profit organization, was founded some 22 years ago. The purpose of the SVJS is to enhance the appreciation of jazz as an American musical art form through live performances and education in the Sonoma Valley. It strives to bring together the community by providing an opportunity to see, hear and meet top quality jazz artists. Additionally, the organization sponsors jazz education for young, aspiring musicians at the local Jazz Camp. They also produce four free outdoor concerts (June through September) each year in association with the Tuesday Night Farmer’s Market in the Sonoma Plaza Amphitheatre. The board of directors is made up of a staff of all volunteers.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Jazz Society commandeering the back room at the Plaza Bistro on weekends, and that has become a fairly permanent venue for the organization’s shows. Coming up this Friday night, Feb. 3, is Erik Jekabson, a trumpeter, composer and educator. Joining him in the Back Room are Jeffrey Burr on guitar and John Witala on bass.
Jekabson, who lives in the Bay Area, plays and composes for different bands, leading his own groups and teaching a wide variety of students. He has released two CD’s, his most recent “Crescent Boulevard” came out in 2010 on his own label, and “Intersection,” which he recorded in New York and was released on the Fresh Sound/New Talent label. Additionally, Jekabson co-produced and played on two other recordings, “Vista: The Arrival” and “New World Funk Ensemble” both of which are widely available. He also published his own book of jazz duets, recorded as a sideman on more than 25 other jazz recordings, and has done session work in many other genres of music including movie and video game soundtracks.
On Saturday night, Feb. 4, Mad & Eddie Duran roll into the Back Room. San Francisco guitarist Eddie Duran describes his playing as “piano style” guitar. Like a pianist, he combines voicings with single-note phrasing. In Eddie’s skilled, seasoned hands, six keys become eighty-eight keys. His extensive credits include work with Stan Getz, Cal Tjader, Charlie Parker, Nat King Cole, Vince Guaraldi, Benny Goodman, George Shearing, Peggy Lee, Barbara Streisand, Pearl Bailey and others.
Joining Eddie will be his better half, Mad, on saxophone. Her bio states, “from her first note, Mad Duran forever destroys the negative myths about female horn players.” A premier female instrumentalist, Mad prides herself primarily on tenor as a hard core bop player with an eclectic taste for contemporary Latin and Brazilian styles. The late drummer Eddie Moore said of Mad, “She can hit horn with the boys anytime.”
What’s great about these two musical appreciation societies is that their shows rarely, if ever, overlap. All of the Classical Society shows generally take place on Sunday afternoons and the Jazz Society has Friday and Saturday nights nailed down for a while, as well as a Tuesday night once a month in the summer. However, what is really needed by both organizations is the community coming together to support the two with attendance at shows as well as active membership. To be the home of two such groups is a statement that many other cities in the county or, for that matter, the state, cannot make. Let’s all get involved and support these two great organizations.