Shank’s Mare:Koryu Nishikawa V and Tom Lee

Thursday, March 30, 2017 7:30pm

General Admission: $25; Five College, GCC and 17 & Under: $10

Witness the unique tradition of Japanese Kuruma Ningyo (cart puppets) in this story of two wandering travelers along the great highway from Tokyo to Kyoto, whose paths intersect time and space. Created by American puppeteer Tom Lee and Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V, this work fuses traditional Kuruma Ningyo puppetry, video projection and live music to explore themes of life and death, and how traditions are passed on.

Bobby Bradford | Hafez Modirzadeh Quartet

with Ken Filiano and Royal Hartigan

Thursday, March 31 at 8 p.m., Bezanson Recital Hall
General Admission: $12; $7 students

One of the most original cornet players to emerge from the avant-garde, 81-year-old Bobby Bradford made his mark in Los Angeles, playing with Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy and John CarterOver two decades, saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh has developed his pioneering chromodal concept, a cross-cultural musical approach developed from his own American jazz and Iranian heritages.

Bobby Bradford




Wu Man and the Shanghai Quartet

Tuesday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Concert Hall,  Chamber Seating

$40, $35, $20; Five College, GCC and 17 & under $10

Wu Man and the Shanghai Quartet explore the great music of the East and West. The quartet will perform Mozart’s K. 499, as well as a new multimedia work by the eminent Chinese composer Zhao Jiping in collaboration with his son, Zhao Lin, performing some of some of his most famous scores of internationally celebrated films – Raise the Red Lantern, To Live and Farewell My Concubine, among others. The program also includes a suite of traditional Chinese folk songs arranged by violinist Yi-Wen Jiang, with pipa solos by Wu Man. Looking back to their roots, but with a contemporary vision, these artists meld western string quartet and pipa in an unforgettable evening of music.

Bobby Bradford



Audience members are invited to stay for post-performance discussion with the musicians following the concert.

Andrew Drury’s Content Provider Rocks the Parlor Room

by Glenn Siegel

The last two concerts I have produced: the UMass Magic Triangle Jazz Series event on February 25 and Thursday’s Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares concert at Northampton’s Parlor Room were led by drummers. That, in and of itself, is not a big deal in today’s jazz world (see John Hollenbeck, Tomas Fujiwara, Mike Reed, Terri Lynn Carrington, Bobby Previte, Allison Miller, etc.) But some striking differences and similarities between the two bandleaders made me realize there is more than one way to succeed in music.

Where Matt Wilson ( appeared precise and polished, Andrew Drury looked a little disheveled, like he had just rolled out of bed. On more than one occasion, Drury began pieces by rummaging around his pile of miscellaneous percussion. Was he looking for something or had the “music” begun?

Where Matt Wilson had us laughing and fully engaged with his in-between banter, Drury confessed that he was having difficulty transitioning from intense music-making to the English language.

Where Wilson mostly worked inside established forms, Drury took a more expansive tact, employing more different textures and extended techniques.

Where Wilson brought a basic jazz aesthetic to the music, Drury had a rock feel to his playing.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much they had in common. Both are master drummers, of course, working with tremendous musicians. Both are totally versed and in love with the music’s history. Both are accomplished and dedicated jazz educators (check out Wilson’s “kids” CD, WeBop: A Family Jazz Party. Drury spent six months teaching music to members of the Oneida nation and is spending the next few months in public schools in Brownsville and East New York.) Both expressed gratitude for the audiences’ engaged listening.

“We all had a ball,” Drury wrote in an email. “So much appreciate your good spirit and how it manifests itself in a great series, great audience, great dinner, great hanging out before and after the gig… and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to push the music and the group a bit further toward our next steps (most immediately performances in DC and NYC in about 10 days.) Very encouraging!”

Drury’s Content Provider, featuring tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and alto saxophonist Briggan Krauss, treated 65 intrepid listeners to two ample sets of music. Without guitarist Brandon Seabrook, who is on the recent recording but could not make the Jazz Shares gig, the saxophonists had room to move and showcase their considerable skills.

Although the music moved from in-the-pocket funk and African-derived unison passages to basic sound science, it always seemed to retain its shape, purpose and point of view. With eyes closed, it was impossible to determine who/what was creating the undulating electronic sounds (it was Laubrock). I discovered that what sounded like guitar was being produced by Krauss. When I looked, there was Briggan strumming his saxophone keys. (He happens to be an accomplished guitarist.) The vocalized flute passages were actually Drury blowing into the side hole of his floor tom.

My almost grown sons, who had ventured to check out the music, laughed with incredulity. Whatever they ultimately thought of the music, I was glad they saw people claiming the space to express themselves outside of accepted conventions. Periodic murmurs and chuckles from the rest of the crowd confirmed their reactions.

That Andrew Drury, Ingrid Laubrock and Briggan Krauss are virtuoso musicians in complete control of their instruments made their sound production techniques more than novelty. They made music that moved and provoked us, and made us glad we were there.

Pilobolus Dance Theater

Tuesday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Concert Hall

$50, $45, $15; Five College, GCC and 17 & under $15, $12, $10

With its mix of acrobatic dexterity, inventive wit, and startling imagery, this internationally acclaimed company transforms itself into striking sculptural expressions that are “clever, endearing, and physically awesome” (The Los Angeles Times). Pilobolus Dance Theatre returns to the FAC for more spectacle and daring surprises.

Bobby Bradford

Artist Website

Family Alphabet Workshop with Pilobolus
Sunday, February 21, 3 – 4:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Lobby
This playful, productive and fast-paced workshop for families and people of all ages and abilities will create a unique community Family Alphabet. Children and adults will team up to take on the challenge of creating all the letters for a human alphabet. Limited to 30 participants (priority given to families), early registration necessary. Call (413) 545-0190 or email

The Bach Suites| A Moveable Feast

Matt Haimovitz, Cello

Monday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., Bowker Auditorium

$30, $15; Five College, GCC and 17 & under $10

Join us in a new and unique concert-going experience – unparalleled in the classical music world. Acclaimed cellist Matt Haimovitz offers a brilliant musical variation on the concept of A Moveable Feast. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello are some of the most moving and spiritual compositions for a solo instrument. This concert, however, travels from one end of Rt. 9 to the other. On Sunday, he’ll begin the feast by performing three Bach suites in three separate locations around Hampshire County. Each suite will be accompanied by overtures, recently commissioned by Haimovitz. The feast culminates on Monday in Bowker Auditorium with a concert of the balance of the suites including overtures by Vijay Iyer, Mohammed Fairouz & Luna Pearl Woolf.

Bach Suites


Artist Website


From Vietnam to America: A Musical Odyssey

Vanessa Vân-Ánh Võ, Vietnamese zither 

Friday, March 4 at 8 p.m., Bowker Auditorium

$20, $15; Five College, GCC and 17 & under $10

Marking the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, Vanessa Vo explores the personal and spiritual journeys of the Boat People’s escape from war as they abandoned their lives in the search for freedom with an alien and unknowable future. Utilizing new music for Vietnamese instruments such as the zither (Dan Tranh), dulcimer, monochord and others along with ambient sound, spoken word, historical objects, the music is intended to convey stories of human transformations that resonate for all, not just Vietnamese refugees.

Bobby Bradford



Matt Wilson Quartet begins 27th Magic Triangle season

by Glenn Siegel

“Enjoy.” That was Matt Wilson’s advice to Amherst College music students who had gathered to hear the great drummer, composer, bandleader and educator give a workshop before his evening concert. Wilson is a pied piper, on and off the bandstand, using a disarming brilliance to spread his enthusiasm for jazz.

Matt Wilson follows his own advice. Despite the devastating loss of Felicia, his childhood sweetheart, wife and mother of his four teenage children two years ago, Wilson is consistently upbeat, grateful and full of wonder. It’s contagious.

“Give the music more life,” he told Professor Jason Robinson’s students. “Try different things. Play the music slightly backwards to see how it feels. Break out of jazz conventions like head/solo/head, trading fours. Give listeners some mystery, something else to listen to.”

His ensemble, featuring saxophonist Jeff Lederer, cornetist Kirk Knuffke and bassist Martin Wind, gave us plenty to listen to, as they kicked off the 27th year of the UMass Fine Arts Center’s Magic Triangle Jazz Series on Thursday, February 25.

I like to listen to music with my eyes closed. But I had to peek when the band was replaced by what sounded like a Balinese gamelan. All four musicians had picked up brightly colored bells of different pitches and played complex, highly rhythmic, ever changing music. Soon they were using the bells to strike their instruments, producing sounds from other worlds. The piece, “Raga”, a Wilson original found on “Humidity” (Palmetto, 2002), also featured a driving Indian-based melody and Wilson’s mind-bending solo on the tamberim, a small Brazilian frame drum.

At another point, I had to look again to make sure Wilson’s Quartet had not been replaced by Sun Ra’s Solar-Myth Arkestra. Chris Lightcap had recently given Wilson a stylus synthesizer, a cheap, hand-held gadget, which he rubbed on his floor tom to produce weird, undulating electronic noises. They were not random sounds but, like everything Wilson touches, were filled with logic, wit and surprise. From the amazed smiles and shaking heads of his bandmates, who craned to see what was happening, I’m guessing this marked Wilson’s debut with the little instrument.

Wilson is a genuinely funny guy. After playing “Hug”, with its infectious, easily hummable melody, he mused how well it could serve as a TV theme song, referencing classics like the Mary Tyler Moore show. As the band picked up the melody again, Wilson pantomimed a smiling, waving bus driver using his cymbal as steering wheel.

Just like his imaginary bus driver, Wilson smiles a lot. He also makes other people smile a lot. He is the most important and effective jazz educator this side of Wynton Marsalis. (After Wilson’s Friday UMass workshop, Professor Tom Giampietro wrote, “The kids LOVED it. I have been getting great feedback already, which I knew would happen!”)

Unlike Marsalis, Wilson does not draw lines in the aesthetic sand. He loves it all, and urges students and listeners to embrace all music made with “honesty, clarity and grace.” His Magic Triangle concert reflected that big tent philosophy. While the band approached Charlie Rouse’s “Pumpkin’s Delight” and Gene Ammons’ “The One Before This” with the original swagger and swing, they had no compunction adding daring harmonies and extended techniques. As he introduced the beautiful ballad, “Barack Obama”, written by Butch Warren, he spoke reverentially about Monk’s long time bassist. At other points during the 80-minute concert, the band played abstractly, stretching boundaries that would have made Wynton squirm. That’s why we will follow Matt Wilson wherever he goes.