Sunday, May 12, 2013

Musical Coaster

On the busiest eating-out day of the year, it's hard to find a place to just eat.

I mean, I wasn't looking for a Mother's Day kind of meal, just quick sustenance before a show.

Thinking Don't Look Back would fit the bill, I was relieved of that notion simply by stepping in the door.

The place was mobbed with what looked like other Mother's Day refugees.

Rather than join the line of people waiting for a table or bar stool, I opted for eating in the "lounge," a euphemism for the back area with couches and a coffee table.

A couple was deep in discussion about dancing while rapping onstage, something he professed to have experience in while all she'd done was dance professionally.

But, hey, a server came over almost at once and my black bean nachos arrived shortly thereafter.

When the dancers left, they were replaced by a couple waiting for a table and no matter how often they were told they could eat back there, they declined.

Tables mean a lot more to some people than others.

She kept looking covetously at my food but held fast to an endless wait for that magic table.

They finally got it as I was leaving.

My next stop was Commercial Taphouse for the premiere of Pairs, a new music series showcasing classical music in the first half and jazz after intermission.

Organizer Ellen was setting out coasters on each table; one side had the info about Scrio, the avant-garde jazz ensemble playing tonight, and the other side wittily read, "On tap."

Listed out were the six pieces to be performed, along with the musicians names and instruments.

It was easily the cleverest program I've ever seen. And useful.

Symphony violinist Treesa came in, looking fabulous with her purple-streaked hair and instrument in hand, pointed at me and said, "I knew you'd be here!"

Since I'd last seen her from afar earlier at the symphony performance this afternoon, she'd been hosting a party of symphony musicians at her house.

She'd slipped out long enough to come play at Pairs and was hoping to return without anyone noticing her absence.

It'd be tough not to notice the purple hair was missing, though.

The first piece featured Mary who, we were told, had been the first trumpet at today's performance, doing an Albinoni piece.

The clear tones of her trumpet were a thing of beauty in that small room.

She shone again in a Vivaldi double horn concerto with Rachel on French horn.

Ellen gave us a quick lesson in the make-up of a string quartet, followed by the fact that she'd quilted together a  four-movement string quartet of four movements from composers spanning 200 years.

So we first heard Haydn (the father of string quartets), then Schumann, followed by Debussy and finally Shostakovich.

It was an incredibly brilliant and beautiful way to teach the ignorant among us (okay, me) about the movements and various compositional styles of string quartets.

But things stayed real when we heard fajita meat sizzling in the pan in the nearby kitchen during the Haydn movement.

Classical music, it's not just for stuffed shirts anymore.

The moment it ended, the guy behind me exploded out of his seat to go to the bathroom, telling his friends, "I've been holding it. You don't want to walk through a string quartet to pee."

His Momma didn't raise no fool.

Intermission followed, meaning Scott Clark, one of the the three musicians with Scott in his name who form Scrio (Scott trio, get it?) set up his drums.

It really doesn't take any time for Scott Burton to take his guitar from its case or Jason Scott to hook his sax around his neck.

But then who in RVA doesn't understand how jazz time works?

The talented trio played music from a variety of sources - an early '80s jazz composer, guitarist Scott, saxophonist Jason, John Coltrane ("But just the melody because it's so good").

"We're playing pretty much the entire sax/guitar/drum repertoire that exists," Jason joked.

Both the Burton and Scott pieces had #2 in their title, causing him to wax poetic, "We're a trio playing songs with the number two in them. Deep."

Okay, not that deep, but full of Scott's alternately busy and spare drumming, Scott's nuanced and tasty guitar playing and Jason's melodic wailing on sax.

It was a far cry from a string quartet or double horn concerto, but every bit as impressive to hear, as evidenced by all the classical players who hung around for it.

But then, it was an enviable port in a Mother's Day storm.


  1. Thanks for always being so supportive Karen!!

    Jason Scott

  2. Thanks for always being out there playing, Jason!