Eric Hofbauer Jazz Guitarist / Composer / Educator

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The Toy-chestra @ Junk Kitchen – 1/27/12

My friends Esther Viola and Ben Dicke just started a concert series called the ‘Junk Kitchen’, which runs the first Friday of every month at the Outpost in Cambridge MA, and our group, First Worst Thirst, is the house band for each show. Each month there is a different theme to the concert and this brings in a myriad of players from a wide range of backgrounds and styles. The goal of the series is to bridge music communities through eclecticism and find common ground in composition and improvisation.

The theme of the kickoff concert was ‘Music For Toys’ and Ben did an amazing job hunting down all sorts of toys instruments ranging from little shakers and dolls that sing to toy pianos, organs, drums, recorders, accordions and keyboards. We all wrote new music for this Toy-chestra.

At the toy organ, surrounded by the toy-chestra.

The previous two weeks to this concert I had spend hours either listening to Igor Stravinsky (along with reading the scores, like a proper music geek should) or watching the DVD of Leonard Bernstein‘s Harvard lectures (incidentally the last three hours of his talks are on Stravinsky). So it is no surprise that the mood and structure of my contribution to the Toy-chestra repertoire has a certain flair inspired by the mad Russian.

Should I have put the toy recorder in the key of Ab major while my toy organ was in the key of A minor? or what about the beat, was it  a good idea to mix meters from 7/4 changing to 4/4? That is difficult enough on normal instruments, and extra challenging on a toy drum kit. Despite the unwieldy toy instruments, the poly-tonality, the mixed meter, the uneven phrases and the odd form the piece turned out surprisingly melodic and strangely ‘catchy’. Kudos to Esther and Ben who really played with amazing poise and talent. Besides a few toy instrument ‘malfunctions’ that we all endured, the recording of the live performance came out quite nice.

I am not sure these instrument were meant to be composed for or played in this way. But then again, that is the whole purpose of the Junk Kitchen Series, to take risks and try new things outside of one’s compositional or improvisational comfort zone. So thank you Igor for the inspiration to push our limits.

there are more songs from the toy concert on the Junk Kitchen FB page or Soundcloud. 

 

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