The Turtle Island Quartet with a tribute to Coltrane comes to the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University October 19


"Jazz fans will find new pathways into 'A Love Supreme' while the classical set will find a gateway to one of jazz's enduring achievements." - Amazon.com

Turtle Island Quartet plays a tribute to John Coltrane's legendary jazz epiphany, "A Love Supreme," at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, Friday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. Howard Kissel, the "New York Daily News" chief drama critic and cultural tourist, moderates a pre-concert "Art to Heart" discussion from 7-7:40 p.m.

Since its inception more than two decades ago, the Turtle Island Quartet has been defying genres and breaking boundaries by being a singular force in the creation of bold, new trends in music for strings. The quartet fuses the classical quartet esthetic with contemporary American musical styles - and by devising a performance practice that honors both musical traditions - the state of the art has inevitably been redefined. The New York Times described the quartet's musical execution by applauding the, "Impeccable precision in its pitch and coordination ... ebullient!"

Some music is so finely crafted that the genre in which it is conceived becomes irrelevant to the music itself. Such was the case with much of the work of saxophonist John Coltrane - an artist commonly regarded as a jazz composer, but one whose musical vision transcends the boundaries of what is considered jazz and what is not. Four decades after his death, Coltrane continues to inspire musicians of every perspective - not only jazz players but any composer or performer who recognizes and respects the inherently exploratory and universal nature of music.

The Turtle Island Quartet - violinist David Balakrishnan, cellist Mark Summer, violinist Evan Price and violist Mads Tolling - are among those artists who see this bigger picture. "A Love Supreme: The Legacy of John Coltrane" is Turtle Island's interpretation of music written by - or otherwise reflective of - the 20th century jazz master.

This innovative and profoundly musical group, "has shown an ability to function with equal conviction in the classical and jazz realms unmatched by any other contemporary ensemble," says veteran jazz critic and historian Bob Blumenthal in his liner notes to "A Love Supreme." And therein lies "the secret of Turtle Island Quartet," says Balakrishnan. "We're not classical players interpreting Coltrane's music. We're all jazz musicians who have spent years listening to and transcribing his solos...So we're trying to play this in a way that we're really breathing his breath, but also incorporating these other influences that we feel."

Still, Coltrane's music - created primarily with saxophone, piano, bass and drums - poses particular challenges to a quartet comprised of two violins, a viola and a cello. But the quartet "has met these challenges ... through seamless blends of improvisation, transcription and original orchestration, and with supporting parts that employ pizzicato unisons and walking figures," says Blumenthal. Using these techniques in its tribute to the jazz great, Turtle Island "celebrates several of Coltrane's most cherished performances" as well as examples of the music he inspired.

The melodic strength of the Coltrane legacy is confirmed in the context of a string quartet that suffuses Coltrane's music. This so-called chamber ensemble dazzles at its ability to meet the rhythmic and emotional demands of Coltrane without flinching.

Tickets are $40, $35, $30 and are available online at www.quickcenter.com or by calling the Quick Center Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 27, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 60