4 November, 2011
Central United Methodist Church in Arlington, Virginia graciously hosted the Polished Brass Quintet in an entertaining concert featuring special guest artist Jonas Bernstein, on guitar. The responsive audience was treated to renditions of Gabrieli's Canzona Per Sonare 3, Bach's Contrapunctus IX, and Sir Malcolm Arnold's Quintet for Brass in the first half of the program. While these classical masterworks showcased the PBQ's classical credentials it was the program's rollicking second half that really came alive!
Featuring guitarist Jonas Bernstein's deft and silky stylings on such numbers as Our Love is Here to Stay, the Beatle's In My Life, James Brown's I Feel Good and Quincy Jones's Soul Bossa Nova, the PBQ showed that brass shines in any setting. The 1962 Jones composition which experienced renewed fame as the "Austin Powers" theme song, also showcased an ad-hoc percussion section of good-naturedly surprised audience "volunteers"!
The audience also relished a "New Orleans-style" version of perennial hymn favorite Amazing Grace which began as a "funeral march" featuring Michael Fox's plunger-tinged trumpet wails, but concluded with a dancing, clarinet-esque obligato on the piccolo trumpet over the inevitable street beat that leads back to the French Quarter. And even after a demanding classical program, trumpeter Mike Barber led the PBQ through the James Brown and Quincy Jones hits with the commitment and precision of a Motown horn section.
Especially noteworthy was the rock-steady low brass section led by Ed Vinson's Tuba and Patrick Gillespie's Trombone with their confident statements on the dense and rhythmically active Malcolm Arnold Quintet, and Gillespie's Tommy Dorsey-smooth "Our Love is Here to Stay" slide work evoked the swing leader's mastery. Complementing this was Nara Hojvat-Gallin's Horn, which displayed the soaring leaps and multi-tonal colorings that exemplify the instrument's character.
The Music Ministry at CUMC should be commended on their ongoing commitment to providing excellent community arts events such as this. Their ministry touches many people in the community at large by feeding the soul in word and music.
The PBQ is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful series. It was a fun evening for us, and the audience and staff at CUMC heard some fine music, enjoyed the fellowship of good friends, and started their weekend in excellent spirits!