Sunday, December 14, 2008

Time For Three

Time For Three
Morrison Artists Series
College of Creative Arts, SF State
Sunday, December 14, 2008 @ 3 pm

I was back on the SF State campus this rainy afternoon to check out Time For Three, a trio of 2 violins & a double bass. They did a program of about 15 short numbers, lasting about an hour. The opening piece, Wyoming 307, by the bassist Ranaan Meyer, established right away what the group is about. They exist at an intersection of blue grass, jazz & classical performance. The piece moves quickly through many ideas. It may be sustained & hushed or funky & foot-stomping. There are moments requiring tight ensemble as well as places for wild improvisation. The trio communicates the feeling that they are having the most fun just playing together. & of course the feeling is contagious.

The program was a mix of original compositions by Meyer, traditional pieces like Turkey in the Straw, classic songs like Black Bird from the Beatles, & popular classics like the Brahms Hungarian Dance. All of it is just to showcase their playful fiddling & jazzy jamming. Meyer described the group as a "classically trained garage band".

Classical training is apparent in the group's technical proficiency. The bassist Ranaan Meyer is an exceptional musician & an outrageous flirt. He really made that bass sing & dance. I was even more impressed when he thanked a colleague from the SF Symphony for loaning him the instrument. He moved so comfortably over an instrument that he probably never played before!

The 2 violinists are well-paired. Both play like virtuosos. Nicolas Kendall is the slightly more aggressive-sounding of the two. Zachary De Pue's sound is a bit edgier. Zachary also briefly showed off the alarming ability to bow his violin behind his back. Improvisation is something I don't associate with the violin, but I saw no hesitation here. At one point Zachary played the 1st few notes of Jingle Bells, then, on second thought, immediately dropped it.

The group plays with amplification, which may not be necessary. After the 1st set, Zachary had to leave the stage briefly to have his electronics adjusted.

Tf3 was always having a ball on stage, even when telling their corny jokes they knew weren't working. They were fresh, spontaneous & eager to share their music. There was nothing apparently routine about it. At several points, it looked like Meyer was trying to crack up Kendall & nearly succeeding. We happily ate it all up.

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