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Recital
DYNAMIC PIANISM IN YAKUSHEV MARIN RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 23, 2022
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev arrived Jan. 23 at his Mill Valley Chamber Music Society recital with the repute of playing loud and fast and delivering charming introductory musical remarks to his audience. He was true to form in Mill Valley’s Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church, preceding Haydn’s sple
Symphony
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 9, 2022
The Jan. 9 Santa Rosa Symphony concert was supposed to feature the world premiere of Gabriella Smith’s first symphony, but it ended up featuring another type of premiere: a concert that was conceived, rehearsed and performed in less than eight hours. Symphony staff learned on Sunday morning that so
Choral and Vocal
AN OLD FRIEND RETURNS TO WEILL IN STERLING ABS MESSIAH PERFORMANCE
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Sunday, December 19, 2021
A tremendous accomplishment by the American Bach Soloists Dec. 19 was near perfect performance of Handel's Messiah in Weill Hall. Long an annual tradition at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, the ABS took to the road and delivered a Christmas gift of epic proportions to an obviously thrilled and enth
Symphony
SHOSTAKOVICH FIFTH THUNDERS AT WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, December 5, 2021
In a new season marketed as “Classical Reunion,” the Santa Rosa Symphony made a palpable connection with its audience at the early December set of three standing ovation concerts in Weill Hall. The December 5 concert, with 1,000 attending, is reviewed here. Vaughan Williams’ popular Fantasia on a T
Chamber
THE LINCOLN RETURNS WITH CLARKE'S PUNGENT TRIO
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, November 18, 2021
There were many familiar faces Nov. 18 during Music at Oakmont’s initial concert of the season, but perhaps the most necessary were the three musicians of the Lincoln Piano Trio, the Chicago-based group that has performed often in Oakmont since 2006. A smaller than unusual audience in Berger Audito
Symphony
NOSTALGIC BARBER KNOXVILLE AT SO CO PHIL JACKSON THEATER CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
In their first Jackson Theater appearance of the new season the Sonoma County Philharmonic presented Nov. 14 a program devoid of novelty, but showcasing the “People’s Orchestra” in splendid performance condition after a long COVID-related layoff. Conductor Norman Gamboa drew a committed and boister
Chamber
THRILLING PIANO QUINTETS IN MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, November 14, 2021
The Mill Valley Chamber Music Society sprang back to life on November 14 when a stellar ensemble from the Manhattan Chamber Players, a New York-based collective, arrived to perform two piano quintets: Vaughn-Williams’ in C Minor (1903), little known and rarely performed; and Schubert’s in A Major D.
Chamber
MUSCULAR BRAHMS FROM IVES COLLECTIVE IN GLASER
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 14, 2021
Leaving SRJC’s Newman Auditorium for the first time in decades, the College’s Chamber Concert Series presented a season-opening concert Nov. 14 in Santa Rosa’s Glaser Center with the four-musician Bay-Area based Ives Collective. The season, the first given since 2020, is dedicated to Series Founder
Symphony
MONUMENTAL BRAHMS SYMPHONY HIGHLIGHTS MARIN SYMPHONY RETURN
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, November 7, 2021
In the waning COVID pandemic the Marin Symphony is one of the last Bay Area orchestras to return to the stage, and they did with considerable fanfare Nov. 7 before 1,200 in Civic Center Auditorium, with resident conductor Alasdair Neale leading a demanding concert of Brahms, Schumann and New York-ba
Symphony
APOLLO'S FIRE LIGHTS UP VIVALDI'S FOUR SEASONS IN WEILL
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Long ago the Canadian violin virtuoso Gil Shaham played a program in Weill Hall of solo Bach, with a visual backdrop of slowly developing visuals, such as a pokey flower opening over four minutes. The Bach was sensational, and some in the audience liked the photos but many found them disconcerting,
OTHER REVIEW
Green Music Center / Saturday, September 25, 2021
Jon Cleary, piano snd the Absolute Monster Gentlemen

Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen Sept. 25

CLEARY'S NEW ORLEANS BAND IGNITES PARTY FOR THE GREEN AT SSU

by Terry McNeill
Saturday, September 25, 2021

A dramatic and unique start to the new Green Music’s Center’ 2021-2022 season exploded in a “Party for the Green” Sept. 25, a New Orleans (NO) style commotion featuring Jon Cleary and his Absolute Monster Gentlemen band, inside and outside of Weill Hall.

Beginning with a private gourmet dinner in the GMC’s Prelude Restaurant, and a reception (drinks only) on the Trione Patio, the first musical part came as Mr. Cleary mounted the Hall’s stage to ravage the concert Fazioli piano, playing a 45-minute set of solos. It was an outsized celebration of Louisiana soul, R&B, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Cuban, French Quarter jazz and presumably much more. House lights were dim and the close-at-hand microphone carried Mr. Cleary’s unrivaled sound to 200 excited listeners, some standing and some clapping with the music.

However, much also was missing. Mr. Clearly is a classic New Orleans shouter and his voice was a raw blend of drawl and aggressive phrasing, and he isn’t a very good pianist. Acoustically his always loud voice collided with the piano sound and the mic’s pickup, producing a continual bevy of indistinct words, albeit ones with potent emotions. His right shoe pounded the floor in sync with his top register and rolled bass chords, in a style far removed from stride or boogie-woogie piano. The highlights were the playing of musical memories of the old NO Storyville section and the Roy Price song that ended the session. Well, he is a stylist with a convincing singularity.

What happened after intermission? The real party began in front of the Hall’s doors where more NO food and sensational NO fashion drinks welcomed the audience streaming out from the lobby, and Mr. Clearly quickly found his preferred musical ground with his band and a two-manual electric piano amplified to be heard all the way to Rancho Cotati’s night football game. Three additional musicians (bass, vocals, drums, tambourin) jumped in and the party took flight. A mostly non-student group of oldsters gathered close to the Band, some with drinks and food in hand, for dancing and palpable enjoyment. Smiles abounded and the crisp evening weather cooperated.

SSU President Judy Sakaki, GMC’s Board Chair (John Boland) and Executive Director (Jacob Yarrow) underscored in announcements the evening’s gala return to live performances after 18 months in COVID purgatory, and the substantial benefits the GMC’s productions provide for the University and local communities. Thirty Four performances in Weill and Schroeder run through late May, 2022.