STORY WRITTEN BY FERN BRODKIN
For Digital First Media
LiveConnections is all about breaking down musical boundaries and creating multi-genre collaborations. This nonprofit organization sponsors the educational Bridge Sessions for school students and also curates a concert series that features cross-genre collaborations, typically between classical musicians and artists in another genre. The intent is to inspire the artists to go outside their comfort zone as well as to reach new audiences.
The next concert in LiveConnections’ 6th concert season will feature internationally renowned bassist John Patitucci and the Daedalus Quartet. Patitucci is known for performing both jazz and classical music. But what will make this concert most interesting is adding improvisation — an important part of the jazz idiom — into chamber music.
I spoke to Tom Kraines, cellist for Daedalus Quartet, from his home in Philadelphia. He has been performing with the quartet for about 5 years. He had been approached by Mary Javian, LiveConnections Presents Curator, about doing something for the series. Kraines had previously worked with Patitucci and the two wanted to collaborate on something. LiveConnections became the perfect vehicle.
Kraines said he first met Patitucci 8 or 9 years ago, through a mutual musician friend, and they performed some chamber music concerts together. They enjoyed the experience and wanted to work together again, yet with scheduling issues this is the first opportunity they will have.
“As a quartet, we’re always looking to expand our boundaries so we play a lot of new music,” said Kraines. “This is in some way an extension of that. It’s more jazz-inflected than a lot of the stuff we do… but it’s not too far outside of our comfort zone. As a group we all feel it’s important to keep exploring, and this is one of the directions we were interested in.”
Patitucci is well-known for performing and composing both jazz and classical music. In a phone interview from his home in New York, he discussed his musical history as well as his desire to collaborate with Daedalus Quartet.
“I have a hybrid past,” explained Patitucci, who said he grew up listening to R&B, soul and rock & roll music… “I was a classical double bass major in college. I was a studio musician as well. My teachers were pushing me into a career as an orchestral bass player and I ran from that at age 19 and started going on the road playing other kinds of music. I wasn’t ready to give up all these other kinds of music that I loved.”
He added: “In those days there was really quite a divide and I think they really made you choose between the musics maybe more than they do now.”
About 25 years ago Patitucci returned to the world of classical music, both as a performer and a composer. His interest in working with Daedalus Quartet was sparked by his friendship and musical connection to Kraines as well as his desire to write a piece to perform with the quartet.
“For me, this was an opportunity to write a piece for the bass as a soloist,” said Patitucci. “After 25 years of writing some things… I feel like I’m in a different place and I’m learning how to balance between writing something that’s enough of a composition so the string quartet gets to participate in the music in a meaningful way and not just be a backdrop to the bass… and at the same time, have enough of a window in the music.
“I got this term from Miles Davis, because I worked with Wayne Shorter for many years and Miles Davis used to say (this) to Wayne about writing crossover music, because Wayne writes a lot of music. I play with (Wayne) and we do a lot of stuff with big orchestras as well, and Miles would say to Wayne ‘Make sure you put a window in the music.’ That window in the music is a very important thing for an improviser, and I’m an improviser. So, it’s important for there to be a space in the music, even though it’s chamber music, because there’s a jazz connection. I need a space for me to improvise within the structure.”
The program will also include Mozart’s “Divertimento” for string quartet and bass. Kraines said he thought of the piece because of its inventiveness and energy. It was written early in Mozart’s career and he thought it would be a great fit for Patitucci.
“I think it’s going to be very exciting,” said Kraines. “We’re not going to jazz up Mozart; it will be a pretty traditional performance. But I think there will be something really cool about what he’s going to bring to it.”
In addition they’ll be performing another piece that Patitucci wrote for a different string quartet as a tribute to his mother. The Daedalus Quartet will perform other selections from their repertoire as well.
Although Kraines said he would certainly welcome more opportunities to perform with Patitucci, especially after working so hard to prepare for this premiere, this could very well be your one and only opportunity to hear this music.