Sutton, Turtle Island Quartet to blend at Music Hall
Better rearrange the records — The Turtle Island Quartet was in classical, and Tierney Sutton was in jazz. Now they may belong on the same shelf, because they’re on the same stage on Friday at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
They co-star in “A Solstice Celebration: Festival of Lights,” framing Sutton’s voice among the quartet’s strings on seasonal songs from many traditions, including Hanukkah tunes, English carols from centuries ago and music of India’s Diwali festival. All over the map, together.
Like Kronos and Ethel, the Turtle Island Quartet — founders David Balakrishnan (violin and baritone violin) and Mark Summer (cello) with Mateusz Smoczynski (violin) and Benjamin von Gutzeit (viola) — burst the bonds of chamber music, and Sutton pushes the borders of jazz.
Turtle Island improvises with jazz freedom, rhythmically and harmonically. Sutton sings songs, classic and contemporary, with fearless jazz flair. Her masterpiece “On the Other Side” takes no tempo for granted in familiar vintage tunes. Her elastic audacity is dazzling, full of confident charm and exceptionally fluid technique.
Singing like this also requires skillful, super-simpatico accompaniment. So she credits her music to the Tierney Sutton Band, clearly a deep, dynamic partnership where she’s an instrument among instruments. Her collaboration with the Turtle Island Quartet developed in the same organic way.
They talked, they emailed, they rehearsed, they recorded, they performed, first at the Iridium in New York, then on this on-and-off tour. In fact, “A Solstice Celebration: Festival of Lights” is only one of their collaborations. They were set to perform “Poets and Prayers” in fall 2012 but postponed to this week, and changed the program.
Show time for “A Solstice Celebration: Festival of Lights” is 7 p.m. on Friday at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St., Troy). Tickets are $38, $32, $30, $25; $5 off for children, students and groups. 273-0038, www.troymusichall.org.
Travis & Shook
In the 1970s, Travis & Shook and the Club Wow opened often for comic George Carlin. One of his last “appearances” was a message on Chandler Travis’ answering machine (heard on the Chandler Travis Philharmonic album “Tarnation and Alastair Sim (a/k/a ‘Kitty’).” Travis & Shook team up again on Friday at Caffe Lena in a reunion show; billed as the “Chandler Travis Three-O (one of many bands fronted by singer-songwriter Chandler Travis) with very special guest Steve Shook.”
Travis releases an album about every 15 minutes under various names (the Chandler Travis Philharmonic, Catbird or just his own name), but Shook has been on musical hiatus for years. His solo debut effort “Dignity” marks a welcome comeback — charmingly low-key rock with such collaborators as Terry Adams (NRBQ), Duke Levine (Peter Wolf’s band), Rikki Bates and Berke McKelvey (both from various Chandler Travis bands) and Jennifer Kimball (the Story).
Show time for the Chandler Travis Three-O (actually, usually a quartet) with guest Steve Shook is 8 p.m. on Friday at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). Admission is $18 in advance and $22 at the door. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org.
On Saturday, some Travis pals play nearby: the Spampinato Brothers. Guitarist Johnny Spampinato played with Travis in the Incredible Casuals; so did Shook. And the Chandler Travis Philharmonic opened many NRBQ shows while both Spampinatos (Joey plays bass, both sing) were aboard.
Since leaving NRBQ, the Spampinatos toured as Baby Macaroni before regrouping under their own name with guitarist Aaron Spade and drummer J. Cournoyer, hitting the road and recording two albums. “Smiles,” their latest, features seasonal songs, plus Zoot Horn Rollo — one of the GREAT rock ’n’ roll names — of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band.
The Spampinato Brothers play on Saturday at the Bearsville Theater (291 Tinker St., Woodstock). Show time is 9 p.m. Fancy Trash opens. Admission is $20. 845-679-4406 www.bearsvilletheater.com.
Phantogram comes home
Local heroes Phantogram play at home on Saturday at Upstate Concert Hall (1208 Route 146, Clifton Park). For perspective, the Saratoga Springs-based duo of Sarah Barthel (keyboards, vocals) and Josh Carter (guitar, vocals) have played on “Late Night” with Jimmy Fallon, Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, Sasquatch and other festivals; and they’ve toured with Beach House, Metric, the Antlers, Minus the Bear, Caribou, RaRa Riot, School of Seven Bells, the Glitch Mob, the xx and more.
They’ve also recorded with Big Boi (his “Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors” album) and the Flaming Lips (“The Terror” album). Their own four releases have yielded a track, “Lights,” on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack. So, they’ve been around the block since forming here as Charlie Everywhere.
Show time for Phantogram on Saturday at Upstate Concert Hall is 8 p.m.; doors open at 7:30. Admission is $18 in advance and $20 on Saturday; but the first 102 tickets are $10.27. Until The Ribbon Breaks and Weeknight open. 371-0012 www.upstateconcerthall.com.
Filling The Egg
Los Lobos kicked off the week big, and here comes more.
The Temptations, led by surviving founder Otis Williams, sing Motown at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is $34.50. 473-1845 www.theegg.org. (See story on page D3.)
The Zucchini Brothers take over on Sunday at 3 p.m. for their annual holiday show. Admission is $12 but adults are admitted free with each child.
On Monday, Canadian pop giant Bryan Adams plays solo at 8 p.m. — not far from where he played his first-ever U.S. show, at JB Scott’s in early 1980. What began as an experiment has become a comfortable and relaxed presentation. Adams has the charm and the chops to put his songs over all by himself. Admission is $75 and $49.50.
Jazz pianist John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood plays solo on Saturday at the Massry Center at The College of Saint Rose (1002 Madison Ave., Albany). Admission is $25, students $12.50. 337-4871 www.massrycenter.org.
Another high profile keyboardist plays on Saturday: Marco Benevento headlines at Red Square (388 Broadway, Albany). Usually heard on organ, he plays acoustic piano this time, but through a guitar amp, with Ween bassist Dave Driewitz and drummer Andy Borger (Tom Waits, Ani DiFranco and Norah Jones). Guitarist Scott Metzger leads his band Wolf in the opening slot at 9 p.m. Admission is $14 in advance and $16 on Saturday. 465-0444 www.redsquarealbany.com.
“Holidelic” sounds like a holiday fever dream of James Brown or George Clinton, but it’s actually the annual all-star project of bandleader Everett Bradley. He leads this holiday funk circus with the irresistible tagline “ ’Twas the night before the funk,” into Club Helsinki (405 Columbia St., Hudson) on Sunday at 8 p.m. Admission is $20 in advance and $25 on Sunday. 828-4800 www.helsinkihudson.com.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at firstname.lastname@example.org.