Writer and pianist Stuart Isacoff will perform “Classical-Jazz Connections” featuring improvisations of works from Classical and Jazz repertory with bassist David Ruffels at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker St. at 7:30 PM. Considered one of New York's hippest venues, the club is noted for its openness to all genres of music.
Chicago public radio station WFMT, the largest classical station in the country with a national distribution network, is planning to broadcast the performance. Tickets are $15. Call 212-505-3474 or www.lepoissonrouge.com.
Stuart Isacoff is best known as an award winning writer on the arts: a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and author of the book Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization. But he is also a pianist and composer with one foot in the classical world and the other in the jazz tradition.
He combines these musical spheres in programs that merge works from both into surprisingly effective “marriages,” forming new compositions that are explored through improvisation.
“The boundaries between the classical jazz traditions are more permeable than many people believe,” Isacoff says. “Works from each of these genres often share similar elements thematically, in the sound or progression harmonies, or even in rhythmic approaches.” And what better way to explore these common threads than through improvisation, a practice that was once the domain of classical musicians (from Bach to Mozart to Liszt) but that has now become largely a fixture of the jazz world.
Music at the concert includes an early Scriabin Prelude in which the melody of “Over The Rainbow” can become a perfect inner voice; a Schubert sonata movement with hints of an American patriotic ode; a study by Classical composer James Hook that can become a rollicking New Orleans standard; a haunting mystical work by Olivier Messiaen that shares a sound world (and a key!) with the profoundly spiritual jazz composer Wayne Shorter; a Baroque work by Spain’s Antonio Soler that shares a particular passage with a song by Brazil’s Bossa-Nova king, Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The idea behind this approach goes beyond merely “jazzing” up the classics—it is a search for common links and myriad ways of viewing a particular musical idea. But, above all, it is a way to have lots of fun—for the musicians as well as for the audience.
Mr. Isacoff is a member of the Purchase College Conservatories of Music and Dance and has performed and lectured at such venues as The Verbier Festival in Switzerland, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the September Music festival in Torino and numerous other festivals and museums throughout the United States and Italy.
David Ruffels, a member of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music has performed locally at The Museum of Modern Art, Smoke, The Blue Note, and many other clubs and cultural institutions.