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March 28, 1995 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-28

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 28, 1995 - 9

Cleveland Quartet bows out gracefully

By Emily Lambert
Paily Arts Writer
, A 26-year-long collaboration
eame to an end Sunday afternoon
between Ann Arbor audiences and
the Cleveland String Quartet. The four
musicians donned Michigan baseball
caps -gifts from University Musical
ociety President Ken Fischer- and
alked off stage leaving the audience
wondering what mean trick of fate
prompted an ensemble so good to
schedule its final concert so soon.
Sentimentality aside, Sunday's per-
formance was exciting, imaginative
and exhausting. The Cleveland Quar-
tet musicians, William Preucil, Peter
Salaff, James Dunham and Paul Katz,
gave inspired, impassioned perfor-
*nces of works by Schubert, Turina,
tolijov and Dvorak.
"We only play music that we re--
ally believe in; we don't have to foist
bad music on anybody because there
is too much good music available,"
said James Dunham, the group's vio-
list, in a conversation last week. We
had no reason to doubt the sincerity of
this statement, and Sunday's perfor-
,ance confirmed its truth.
Schubert's "Quartettsatz in C mi-
fior" was a beautiful sound byte to
gin with. Schubert, composer of
& famous "Unfinished" Symphony,
1tl to posterity this introductory
Movement for a quartet and 41 bars of
amovement to follow. Preucil's lyri-
cal opening violin solos, gorgeously
played, contrasted with the group's
anxious, agitated tremolos. "La
t acion del Torero" by Joaquin
urina, translated "The Bullfighter's
Prayer," was another colorful, one-
movement work with decidedly
folkish elements.
The centerpiece of the afternoon
was Osvaldo Golijov's new composi-

tion "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac
the Blind," a work co-commissioned
by UMS, the University of Kansas
and the German Schleswig-Holstein
Festival. The quartet was joined by
the celebrated- klezmer clarinetist,
Giora Feidman, for this demanding
and much-anticipated piece. "You're
in for a real treat," cellist Paul Katz
Cleveland
String Quartet
Rackham Auditorium
March 26, 1995
told the audience before the perfor-
mance. He was right.
The piece, which finds its roots in
Jewish folk music, was alternately
anguished, frenzied, calm and alto-
gether unpredictable. Feidman made
his instruments, of which he had five,
squeal, shriek and moan. Some notes
were imperceptibly soft, others
reached far into the clarinets' high
registers. The quartet propelled the
music forward with tricky techniques
and unwavering communication, leav-
ing a void in the hall as the music
faded away.
Golijov's piece, which closed the
first half, brought many of the atten-
dants to their feet. "I think it's the
kind of music that makes you look
deep into yourself. It's interspersed
with these wilder moments which are
very extreme and chaotic, and I think
everybody can relate to that," Dunham
commented.
Yet it should be said that some in
the audience didn't like the piece
nearly as much as I did, leaving me to
believe that understanding the cul-
tural elements aided an appreciation

of the extremely pictorial music. One
could hear the sounds of the shofar, a
ram's horn blown on the Jewish New
Year, and fragments of traditional
songs, prayers and festive dances. For
those able to recognize the features,
the music spoke directly to their souls.
In the second half, Dvorak's
"Quartet in A-flat major" spoke to
everyone. The quartet played with
intense energy and professional flair.
The Lento e molto cantabile was pain-
fully beautiful, afforded by the inti-
mate, conversational aspect of cham-
bermusic. This delicate fragility gave
way to a mad acceleration to the end
which brought the rest of the audi-
ence to their feet.
The quartet exhibited an uncanny
sense of communication, a trait that
Osvaldo Golijov alluded to in his pro-
gram notes. "'Blindness,"' he wrote,
"is probably the secret of great string
quartets, those who don't need their
eyes to communicate among them, with
the music, or the audience." The en-
semble was in perfect synch, and the
musicians' motionless stances theatri-
cally preserved the ending of each piece.
When the Cleveland Quartet dis-
bands this December, it will be sorely
missed but dearly remembered. Still,
the season isn't over yet. The musi-
cians have more concerts to give,
more works to premiere and more
performances to enjoy. Said Dunham,
"In this chaotic, wild and overpopu-
lated world with too many things to
think about and problems to deal with,
it's awfully nice to be involved with
something, whether as a performer or
as an audience, that is finite, deeply
personal and fulfilling." How lucky
we are that Preucil, Salaff, Katz and
Dunham dedicated a portion of their
lives to the Cleveland Quartet, ending
with grace what began 26 years ago.

All they want is to not fall down as they walk on the ocean. Or something to that effect.
Toad the Sprocket hops into Detroit

By Mark Carlson
Daily Arts Writer
Toad The Wet Sprocket are not as
depressed as you might think. In fact,
they like to be happy as much as the
next guy. Though they may sing a lot
about the troubles in life, they really
are not the gloomy Gusses everybody
seems to expect. "The new thing is
the idea that all art comes from pain,
that if you're not in pain all the time,
then you're not going to do anything
worthwhile, and I think that's a load
of crap," said Toad singer and chief
songwriter Glen Philips. "Music has
a lot of functions, and it can be to get
into joy or whatever, but it can also be
to work out problems. For me its
always been that when I write, the
reason I'm writing is to work through
whatever I need to work through, and
so it will tend to be more about the
problems than things that are great. I
think it's easier to write a good song
about a problem than it is to write a
good song about being happy."
Of course, Toad certainly does
have some things to be happy about.
For a group of high school friends that
started playing music with each other
in their hometown of Santa Barbara
-recording their first album by them-
selves in a living room for $650 -
they have come a long way. With
fairly consistent radio play on college
stations and a little help from MTV
and VH-l, the Toad fan base has
grown slowly but surely with each
new album. "The first time you're
getting played, the first time the teeny-
boppers start showing up, it's kinda
weird. It's like, 'Wait, these aren't the
people that have been around five

years!"'said Philips about the band's
growing success. "But the thing is, if
a certain single made them discover
the band, if they stick around and
discover what the band's really about,
then it's worthwhile."
The results are certainly worth-
while for a band that really had no
expectations to start with. "I think the
thing that saved us a lot of grief was
that we sort of fell into this by acci-
TOAD THE
WET SPROCKET
Where: State Theater
When: Tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Sold out.-
Hootie and the Blowfish open
the concert at 7:30 p.m.
dent," recalled Philips. "We got signed
the summer after what was going to
be our last year together. When the
summer ended, I was supposed to go
off to college." This was after gaining
a small local following and putting
out two self-released albums with their
own money.
The band started out like your
average hometown band, putting to-
gether songs in garages while they
were still learning to play. Drummer
Randy Guss and guitarist / vocalist
Todd Nichols met in pre-school, while
bassist Dean Dinning met the two in
Junior High. The band wasn't formed,
however, until the songwriting team
of Nichols and Philips met in high
school. Until high school, Philips had
been pretty much into heavy metal,
but his friendship with Nichols led

him into anew world of music. "When
I met Todd, he started playing me
R.E.M., U2, the Replacements and
Husker Du. I think that was the first
time that music actually meant some-
thing to me," said Philips. "That's
when I realized that you could actu-
ally do something moving with mu-
sic."
With Nichols and Philips friendship
came a songwriting team that would
fuel the band's rise to success. Each
contributes about half of the music, and
while Philips remains the lead singer,
Nichols sings a couple of songs on each
of the albums. "When I sing lead, Glen
gets to concentrate on guitar and that's
fun for him," Nichols explained. "Glen
also does a great job of putting words to
my phrasing, and that's tough to do."
This may be an interesting subject to
fans who never would have guessed
that Nichols does any of the lead vocals,
as the pair's voices are tough to tell
apart, even for their mothers. "When
we finished up 'Pale' and I brought it
home, my mom said that she liked the
way I was singing, especially on the
two tracks that Todd actually sang,"
said Philips. "So that was kind of de-
pressing."
After about a year on the road in
support of their latest album,
"Dulcinea," Toad is finally nearing
the end of their grueling road sched-
ule. Their current tour, with Hootie
and the Blowfish in the opening slot,
comes to an end in May, leaving the
summer for relaxing and writing some
tunes. "We don't write too well on the
road," stated Philips, "we tend to write
more about life, and it's tough to have
a real life on the road."

e Murmurs
The Murmurs
K4CA
You might have heard the Mur-
murs' hit single, "You Suck" on alter-
native radio, and thought that the fe-
xwle duo sucked too. Well, you'd
only be half right. While "You Suck"
has become the group's signature
song, and has been called everything
i.t anthemic to annoying, it can't
e called typical of their debut album.
Rather, their sound normally tends to
sweet folkiness; at heart, the Mur-
murs are just flower children. Songs
likI "Beautiful Peace," "Bumble
Bees" and "Basically" are good ex-
arples of their sound: Sweet, lilting.
voices mixed with with guitars, dulci-
mers and strings. While not
earthshaking, the Murmurs and their
sic are pleasant enough. To put it
in their own words, they don't suck.
- Heather Phares
Various Artists
K - The Third Wave
Continuum
Continuum Records' latest rankin'
and skankin' ska compilation, "SKA
The Third Wave," is a great sam-
er of the new and innovative era of
bands, combining some old veter-
aps and fresh fledglings for a fun disc
of cool music.
With songs from the Toasters, the
Scpfflaws, Mephiskapheles and
many, many, more, "SKA - The
Third Wave" features many of the
best ska bands from the post-Two
Tpne era. With their groovy modern
ay reggae, the bands on "SKA" have
,; helped to distinguish the latest
wave of their fun loving and exciting
brand of music.
. One of the best tracks, "Too
Stoopid," is from Grand Rapids' own
Mustard Plug. Others like
Mephiskapheles' "Doomsday," and the
Pietasters' "Night Before," are all great
tracks, and keep the compilation mov-
ing and skanking with energy.
Another interesting track is the
cofflaws' classic "William Shatner,"
a tri bute to the Man himself. Although
it , oesn't really focus on the "Rescue
9,1,," days, the song is the best ska
biography a starship captain could
ask for. "He got a fine tan shirt with an
emblem on the chest / The interstellar
girls all like him the best / Captain of
the crew and he knows kung-fu / And
sid Joan Collins in 1952." What a
;end!
"SKA - The Third Wave" is a
great compilation of the bands that
still got the skank, and it's prefect for
aiyone, whether you're a big ska fan,

Buckshot LeFonque finds the funk

Now there's dust on the Murmurs' guitars ... but they don't suck.

of their hometown, New Orleans, not
the horn and bass-driven soul that
James Brown and George Clinton used
as the base for their music. With their
scratchy guitars, greasy keyboards and
strutting rhythm section, the Meters
were all about the groove, in all of its
dirty glory.
"Funkify Your Life" is easily the
definitive Meters anthology; if any-
thing, it's a little too definitive.
Completists will complain about the
absence of particular favorites, but
these two discs contain all of the
band's finest moments, from both their
Josie and Warner recordings. Over
the 47 tracks, the band's music be-
comes denser and funkier, picking up
elements of reggae, jazz, rock and
pop. It was one of the signature sounds
of the '70s and it hasn't dated at all in
the past two decades - all of the
instrumental jams on the Beastie
Boys' "Check Your Head" and "Ill
Communication" albums came di-
rectly from the Meters' funk.
There's an endless amount of music
to explore on "Funkify Your Life," and
that's part of the problem: For anyone
other than the devoted fan of R&B and
funk, the set is simply too long - one
disc, containing all of the hits ("Cissy
Strut," "Look-Ka Py Py," "Sophisti-
cated Cissy," "Ride Your Pony," "Hey
Pocky A-Way," "Fire on the Bayou"),
would have been enough for most lis-
teners. However, if you want to delve
deep into some of the rawest funk and
R&B ever made, "Funkify Your Life"
is essential listening.
- Tom. F rhewine

to accompany them. The music of
that time, the voices that rose from
that, are awe-inspiring.
In "To A Higher Place," Tramaine
Hawkins takes us back to that time.
No weird instrumentation or flashy
sound effects will be found on this
CD. In every one of the 10 songs on
her album, Hawkins relies on her
voice's potency to lift the spirits of
her listens.
Her singing of "Amazing Grace"
and "Aim Your Arrow High" will
give you that tingling feeling all over,
as will the rest of the record. Modern
technology allowed for a duet with
See RECORDS, Page 10

By David Cook
Daily Arts Writer
The fruits of Branford Marsalis'
labor for the past year and a half were
on display Wednesday night at Indus-
try, and Buckshot LeFonque's ener-
getic, polished performance let ev-
eryone know that the saxophonist /
bandleader left the Tonight Show for
t! Buckshot
LeFonque
Industry
March 22, 1995
a reason. Marsalis has assembled three
horns, two keyboardists, guitarist, a
rhythm section, plus another percus-
sionist, DJ and a rapper into a cohe-
sive unit that can - and did -jam in
several different styles.
LeFonque was as comfortable
playing selections from their debut
release as they were covering Herbie
Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" or
even Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee,"

making each song into an individual-
ized, well-crafted statement.
One of the more interesting, inno-
vative songs of the evening was "I
Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," a
poem by Maya Angelou adapted by
LeFonque for their album. As DJ
Apollo spun a sample of Angelou
reading the poem, the band put forth
a laid-back, lazy groove, with Marsalis
soloing on soprano sax in between
Angelou's lines.
Just about all of the numbers were
funk-based, with creative horn lines
stacked on top of the flawless grooves
that the rhythm section laid down.

However, the group was just as com-
fortable with straight R&B, hip hop
or even swing as they were with the
funk. Most of the songs resulted in the
audience at once dancing and listen-
ing hard for the solos, following the
soloists as they built their lines fur-
ther and further. The highlights of the
show were clearly the times when the
interaction between band members
took center stage.
DJ Apollo and Marsalis took turns
soloing for a few choruses early in the
show - Apollo scratching a distorted
two note line, then Marsalis mimick-
See BUCKSHOT, Page 10

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