Saturday, May 30, 2009

Alcorn, Hullman, and Leckie: Creativity on the Edge

It's always risky performing at the narrow edge of the creativity wedge. The trio of young musicians in today's video are from Baltimore, Maryland in the U.S. and show what happens on both sides of that wedge. I had hints that they were on the narrow edge when I noted their trio consisted of violin, contrabass, and (gasp) pedal steel guitar. I was viewing their Adios nonino video when I realized my mind was shouting "C'mon, get on with it!" They were no longer on the wedge edge, they had fallen off on the wrong side. Creative, they were but good music, it was not. One star, sorry guys.

But my job is to view all the Piazzolla videos so I went to their next one, Buenos Aires Hora Cero, and was pleasantly surprised. On this piece, which purportedly depicts the discontinuity that exists between yesterday and today at exactly midnight, their freedom and musical instincts work very well. It's a bit sparse but the pedal steel was integrated creatively and the musicians fed well off of each others leads. I would like to see a little more aggressiveness from the violinist, Melissa Hullman, and a little more texture from pedal steel artist Susan Alcorn, but Jake Leckie, on bass, is doing just fine. I think there is quite a bit of Piazzolla that would work well with this edgy trio and I look forward to hearing some more. They are experimentalists - it would not surprise me to see them even try a new approach to Adios nonino.

Since originally posting this blog, Ms. Alcorn has brought to my attention two more videos: a pedal steel version of Adios nonino and the trio performing Kicho, a 1970 tune that Piazzolla wrote in honor of his long time bass player, Kicho Diaz. Kicho is the best of the three tunes performed by the trio and the solo Adios nonino offers almost enough structure to win my full approval.

If the video does not appear below, click here.

To learn more about Piazzolla videos, visit the Piazzolla Video site.

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