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Festival picks 

Ian Bostridge & Julius Drake 

Fans of classical vocal music have no doubt been anticipating this exceedingly rare appearance by a pair of British recitalists who are both considered near the tops in their respective fields. Bostridge —a tenor whose technique and artistic gravity is envied by most similar singers of this generation— and Drake —a Professor at The Royal Academy of Music in London (and visiting Professor at The Royal Northern College of Music) who regularly plays all the major fine art music centers of the world— have together recorded and released Gramophone and Edison Award-winning discs for the famed EMI Records label, and Bostridge's talent is so revered in his homeland that, in 2004, he was made Commander of The British Empire (or CBE for short) in recognition of his services to music. Plus, he's a renowned expert on witchcraft of the 17th and 18th Centuries! This program of 19th Century German romantic art songs by the legendary Franz Schubert is —get this— one of only six performances the pair will hold in the USA. Their gig immediately prior to dropping by the SMF: Carnegie Hall. (I don't know what the British equivalent of the phrase "Booya!" would be, but whatever it is, it would certainly be appropriate here.) Listen & Learn: myspace.com/ianbostridge, juliusdrake.com. $40 - $55 at door or charge at savannahmusicfestival.org. Mon., 6:30 pm, Telfair Academy of Arts & Sciences - ALL-AGES. 

The Clayton Brothers

This evening of three full sets by swinging West Coast jazz royalty is just the ticket for listeners curious about the genre but wary of immersing themselves too deep in avant-garde or freeform takes on the form. Bassist John Clayton and his sax-playing younger brother Jeff were raised in Ca. and began playing professionally in the mid-‘70s, backing such heavyweights as Count Basie. Over the years, these cats have gigged or recorded with top-shelf artists such as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, Patti Labelle, Dianne Reeves, Joe Cocker, B.B. King, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Lena Horne and even Madonna. Mull that resumé over for a while. This one-night-only stand in the intimate, nightclub-style environment of the Morris Center marks their Savannah debut, and they'll appear as a quintet including John's son Gerald on piano, trumpeter Terrell Stafford and drummer Obed Calvaire. $35 at door or charge at savannahmusicfestival.org. Thurs., 6 pm, 8 pm & 10 pm, Charles H. Morris Center - ALL-AGES.

The Five Peace Band

As anyone lucky enough to attend last year's reunion gigs by the most fabled lineup of  ‘70s fusion supergroup Return To Forever can easily attest, anytime one has a chance to witness the peripatetically inventive Corea at the keyboards, it's an event not to be missed. This concert somehow packs as much if not more star power and jazz history into it's lineup than even those RTF shows. This brand-new group includes iconic electric guitarist Mahavishnu John McLaughlin (in his first public collaborations with Corea since their mythical stint in Miles Davis' Bitches Brew band four decades ago!), stellar, Asian-tinged saxman Kenny Garret (another Miles veteran), double-baddass bassist Christian McBride (whose work outside the strict jazz realm has included stints with Sting and Pat Metheny) and —taking over for the recently departed Vinnie Colaiuta— La.-bred trap drummer extraordinaire Brian Blade, who's been an in-demand sideman for the likes of Wayne Shorter, Joni Mitchell, Bill Frisell, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Daniel Lanois and Bob Dylan, among others. Surely this will be one of the most talked about shows of this year's SMF. Listen & Learn: fivepeaceband.com, chickcorea.com, johnmclaughlin.com, kennygarrett.com, christianmcbride.com, brianblade.com. Currently sold out (but there's always a chance some unclaimed $25 - $55 tickets may be released to those waiting at the door just before the show). Sat., 7:30 pm, Trustees Theater - ALL-AGES

The Gershwin Songbook: Marcus Roberts & Sebastian Knauer

Connect Savannah co-sponsors this event featuring two of the most acclaimed modern-day interpreters of George Gershwin's work for piano. Sebastian Knauer, a dedicated chamber musician who regularly tours the world with his longtime musical partner, violinist Daniel Hope (the SMF's Associate Artistic Director of Chamber Music) will offer a solo rendition of the composer's Concerto in F, as well as "An American In Paris" and several of his popular songs and standards. Marcus Roberts, a shockingly impressive pianist and Music Festival regular (he's the SMF's Associate Artistic Director of Jazz Education) will also interpret a selection of Gershwin titles in his own expressive, highly personalized style. Ticket holders can attend a special Pre-Concert Talk an hour before the show to learn more about what went into crafting this recital. Listen & Learn: marcusroberts.com, sebastianknauer.com. $25 - $75 at door or charge at savannahmusicfestival.org. Sat., 3 pm, Lucas Theatre - ALL-AGES.  

Silent Film Classics with Live Pianist Rick Friend 

Tired of the 3-D aural whiz-bang of multiplex cinemas' 5.1 Surround Sound systems? Your home theater's sub-woofer giving you the shakes? Get back to basics —real basics— with the blissfully retro experience of watching classic, vintage, B&W pre-talkies accompanied by an honest-to-goodness live piano player, just like in the old days. Rick Friend is at the head of a small, but steadily growing pack of musicians and silent film devotees who perform either their own newly-composed scores to ancient silent films, or work hard to resurrect the original scores which in some cases have not been heard in tandem with these films in decades — all while watching the film as it "unspools" in front of a live audience. Friend literally tours the world bringing the simple pleasures of what was once cutting-edge entertainment to scores of people too young to remember when the idea of synchronizing sound with moving pictures seemed like so much balderdash. A reliably popular facet of the SMF for the past few years, this time around, there are two different programs to choose from. Beer, wine and soft drinks are available at all shows. Learn More: silent-music.com. $10 per screening at door or charge at savannahmusicfestival.org. Charlie Chaplin Double-Feature: The Immigrant and The Kid - Fri., 1 pm + Sat., 1 pm & 5 pm.. F.W. Murnau's Sunrise - Fri., 7 pm. All films at Charles H. Morris Center - ALL-AGES.  

The Punch Brothers feat. Chris Thile 

Co-sponsored by Connect Savannah, this high-octane mélange of progressive, daring, yet ever-so-accessible acoustic string-band music comes courtesy of some serious heavyweights in the world of bluegrass, classical and Old-Time roots Americana. Nickel Creek co-founder and mando-hunk Thile is easily the most recognizable marquee name in the group, but guitarist Chris Eldridge is known from The Infamous Stringdusters, bassist Paul Kowert studied under the legendary Edgar Meyer, banjoist Noam Pikelny has worked with the great Tony Trischka and violinist Gabe Witcher has collaborated with dobro master Jerry Douglas. Formed over a long night of food, wine and commiseration over several of the founding members' recent bouts with heartache and divorce, the group inhabits a broad, ill-defined world that encompasses elements of chamber music, drum-less roots-rock and hopped-up "newgrass." Thile maintains this band is "aesthetically a bluegrass band — but one with a lot of range." He for one will likely feel at home on this stage, as he's played there a handful of times, both with his former band Nickel Creek, and the aforementioned Meyer. Fans of inventive, improv-heavy acoustic music that delights in pushing the envelope of what's expected of it should flock to this "can't disappoint" show. Listen & Learn: punchbrothers.com. $15 - $65. Sat., 9 pm, Lucas Theatre - ALL-AGES.  


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Connect Today 12.08.2016

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