Some 13 years ago, jazz guitar great Pat Metheny had a proverbial pull-off-the-road moment. Listening to “Mood Swing,” the then-current album by saxophonist Joshua Redman, Metheny keyed on a sideman, pianist Brad Mehldau. Mehldau was just 24 at the time, but Metheny heard something in his playing – not just virtuosity, but personality. The two crossed path numerous times over the years, and their determination to record as a duo was finally realized with sessions in late 2005. The instincts were spot-on: Between the two of them, Metheny and Mehldau went into the studio with 24 tunes, and emerged with 24 tracks, all deemed worthy of release. “Metheny Mehldau” came out last year; the follow-up “Quartet,” featuring the rhythm section of drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier, was released last week. The foursome performs Friday, March 16, at the Wheeler Opera House.
Though she was educated in Scotland and Canada, and now lives in Wyoming, Alexandra Fuller’s talk in the Aspen Writers’ Foundation’s Winter Words series will no doubt focus on tales from Africa. Fuller’s pair of memoirs – “Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight” and “Scribbling the Cat” – focus on her life in southern Africa, first as a child living a chaotic, ex-pat life with her family, then in her return as an adult, when she traveled with an African soldier. Fuller’s writing reveals the humor and tragedy in a world far removed from our own. It should all serve as a perfect introduction to future Writers’ Foundation happenings. The Writers’ Foundation’s 2007 Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival is presented under the banner “Africa: The Origin of Stories,” and focuses on African writers and themes. Fuller appears Wednesday, March 14, at the Given Institute, and is scheduled for a return visit this summer.
The Aspen Music Festival, too, uses its final winter event to point toward its future. The AMF’s Winter Music series concludes with another local debut – the third in six concerts – this one by Leonidas Kavakos. The Greek-born violinist represents something fresh; in his 30s, Kavakos is in just his second major tour of the States. The Music Festival seems on a mission of reinvigoration. The 58-year-old organization recently announced that the theme for its 2007 summer season is “Blue Notes,” tracing the connections between classical and jazz. Scheduled to perform are Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Turtle Island String Quartet and singer-songwriter Josh Ritter, with works by Marsalis and Ellington on the schedule. The season will feature more debuts (pianists Billy Childs and Boris Berezovsky, conductor Mark Wigglesworth, and soprano Kathleen Battle, performing an all-Gershwin program) and four world premieres. Kavakos, accompanied by pianist Peter Nagy, closes the winter, and teases the summer, with a program that includes Stravinsky’s “Divertimento.” (Among the summer’s mini-festivals is “Stravinsky Rex.”) The concert, Saturday, March 17, at Harris Hall, is rounded by works of Ravel, Szymanowski and Beethoven.
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