Music and Opera reporting on is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Review: Classically Jazzed | Open Classical | Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge

Jazz Hot

With Classically Jazzed, Mark Landson's Open Classical again finds a terrific way to present classical music in an innovative way.

published Friday, March 27, 2015

Photo: Open Classical
Open Classical performs Classically Jazzed at the Eisemann Center in Richardson

Fort Worth — Mark Landson and his Open Classical group have done it again—they’ve made classical music both innovative and fun, and with any luck have brought the genre to audiences who might shy away from a more traditional classical program.

The only catch—their program Friday evening at the Eisemann Center in Richardson, repeated Saturday at the Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, wasn’t really classical at all. The first half of the program featured the local ensemble performing classical pieces that Landson arranged for jazz ensemble. Two Baroque violin concertos, played by Landson and his ensemble, kicked off the program—the Vivaldi A Minor and the first movement of the “Bach Double”—the Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, with Light Crust Doughboys violinist Marek Eneti playing the second part.

Photo: Open Classical
Open Classical performs Classically Jazzed at the Eisemann Center in Richardson

Both of these concertos are staples of the repertoire—virtually every student violinist has played them at one time or another. But Landson’s versions were no kid stuff. He replaced the Baroque continuo with jazz ensemble, creating a new—and fun!—way to experience these warhorses. An issue at the beginning of the Vivaldi made for a false start, but it was a minor flaw in an otherwise delightful performance. Marek Eneti is a fine contributor to the Open Classical stable of performers, with solid chops, great stage presence, and creative flair.

Landson also arranged four classical tunes into songs performed by the redoubtable Damon Clark, backed by the group’s jazz ensemble. The last of the four songs, based on the Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, was a moving elegy to beloved Open Classical performer Emily Javadi, a 34-year-old killed last month by a drunk driver.

While Landson is far from the first to add lyrics to classical melodies—the musical Kismet, based on the music of Borodin, comes to mind, and Googling “classical music pop songs” produces a huge list of songs that are either based on or have used riffs from classical music— most of these songs are pop (or musical theater), not jazz. The jazz medium works well for Landson’s transformations. The songs that are most loosely based on the classical tunes, such as his songs set to the melodies of the Mozart G Minor Symphony and Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” were the most effective, while Debussy’s “Beau Soir” altered from 4/4 to 3/4 time was less effective.

The musicians recruited for this project were consistently excellent. Guitarist Michael Nesuda was an especially welcome addition to the program, as were pianist Thiago Nascimento, an Open Classical stalwart, bassist Jonathan Fisher, and drummer Jaelun Washington.

The second half of the program featured Polish jazz vocalist Grazyna Auguscik. Like Landson, she adds vocals to classical music, in her case the works of Chopin and Lutosławski. Her efforts, and those of her backing musicians, were less successful than Landson’s, however. In an area that boasts the largest jazz studies program in the country (at the University of North Texas), the bar is set high. Auguscik and her ensemble never quite vaulted it. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Jazz Hot
With Classically Jazzed, Mark Landson's Open Classical again finds a terrific way to present classical music in an innovative way.
by J. Robin Coffelt

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :