Tonight I played a show at the Music Gallery with Ronley Teper and the Lipliners. Playing with Ron is always fun but tonight I was extra excited as I knew it would confirm my attendance for Caitlin Smith’s Tinay Alligator show.
My first thought when I saw the ensemble was; what a strange instrumentation. That thought was cancelled out within seconds. Caitlin’s use of the instruments in her ensemble was creative, subtle, suprising and appropriate. One example would be the bass writing. The Music Gallery is infamous for bad bass sounds but the space that Smith carved out in the arrangements with dynamics, sympathetic timbres etc. for the bass was a beautiful feature of this large work. There should be no credit taken away from Ashley Summers on bass either as she played a solid concert with great attention to detail, dynamics and tuning.
Max Roach was an excellent choice as drummer for this music as his tasteful, groovy playing and excellent reading made for a great other half of the rhythm section.
All three vocalists; Jennifer Ryan, Kristin Mueller-Heaslip, and Alex Samaras did a great job singing this challenging music. The almost-pastel, soulful voice of Jen Ryan was a highlight for sure.
Honorable mention goes to the writing and playing in the lower registers. It was seemingly always the right amount of bass trombone, bass clarinet and bassoon blending beautifully with great part writing.
The shape of each piece or section was always interesting and rarely could you anticipate the new direction as we turned each corner as a listener. By the end it all made sense as it was so exciting that we never lost our focus. (I can rarely listen to an hours worth of music without my mind wandering but Smith’s music kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time)
Although there were musicians from the jazz and classical scene I rarely felt like the music was played in an obvious style. By the time you thought you heard a genre you recognized things would change on a dime.
This is unique, world class music that hopefully will be recorded and enjoyed live many more times in the future. Watch for the Tiny Alligator and in the meantime you can read more about this project
It would be impossible to discuss the beauty of this music without mentioning the beautiful white dress warn by the leader/conductor/composer that was as hard to describe as her music. This was a magical night of beautiful music and Smith looked the part of the princess from the fairytale that would accompany this wonderful soundtrack.