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Musical Instrument Museum

10/14 - Ronstadt Generations
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Don't Miss: Chris Smither at MIM October 15

By Mariah Fleming

Chris Smither, image by Jeff Fasano

The 1960's blues revival produced some great musicians. Chris Smither, who is appearing at MIM on October 15th, is one of the greatest. And like John Hammond, he was there at the beginning. I've seen Chris Smither perform in nearly every show he's done in Arizona since the late 1980's. And his concerts are, without exception, a spellbinding and delightful experience. Smither has been hailed as "an American original – a product of the musical melting pot and one of the absolute best singer-songwriters in the world.” - Associated Press. And that's no exaggeration.

Smither is a phenomenal songwriter and performer. Between songs, he's an engrossing and entertaining storyteller. When Chris Smither sings, whether the song's a foot stomping romp, a song he sings with a twinkle in his eye, or one of the achingly beautiful ballads he performs, his audiences are transfixed from the moment he walks onstage. Unfortunately, Chris Smither doesn't get to Arizona often. He's busy touring extensively in the States and overseas, like he's been doing for decades. So it's our great fortune that he's decided to make time for us again, especially because he's performing at MIM. If you see only one concert in October, make it this one. Tickets are available at MIM.org.


Review: Jazz Pianist & Composer Beth Lederman's "Las Sombras"

By Kyle Harris

Any recording is a marker of the artist’s vision at a point in time and Beth Lederman is at a very good place in the arc of her career. Her latest release “Las Sombras” is a noteworthy landmark in her career as a jazz pianist and composer. “Las Sombras” offers an intimate perspective of the music Lederman is most committed to; traditional jazz, Latin and Brazilian styles, original compositions, and re-harmonizing traditional melodies.

Lederman has earned genuine respect in her native Arizona and beyond for her unflinching commitment not only to musical excellence, but also to balancing her other equally important roles as a mother, teacher and wife. “Las Sombras” is a testament to her years of learning, practice and sacrifice condensed into 53 minutes of thoughtful jazz performance.

On “Las Sombras”, an original composition, Lederman clearly and convincingly demonstrates she has a pianistic “voice”. “But Not For Me” and “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” pay homage to Gershwin and Ellington, showing respect and her ability to interpret these classic charts with a fresh reading. Her original composition “Las Sombras”, as well as “Nature Boy”, and Djavan’s “Flor De Lis”, are sung wonderfully by Kay Peper, highlighting Lederman's Latin and Brazilian sensibilities and technique.” Everything Must Change” by Bernard Ighner features a supportive, yet insightful arrangement that gives chanteuse Sherry Roberson all the space required to focus the listener on the lyrics.

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Review: The John Pizzarelli Quartet at MIM

By Kyle Harris

Phoenix and the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) warmly welcomed “Great American Songbook” practitioner John Pizzarelli and his quartet Thursday evening August 7th. The audience for the first show was well stratified with a mix of seasoned jazz lovers and a good representation of younger listeners as well. On this tour the quartet was comprised of John, his brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, drummer Kevin Kanner and Konrad Paszkudzki on piano. Kevin and Konrad are new additions and both are younger players. Depending on your personal inclinations they might represent energy, fresh perspective, and “edge”, or might raise an eyebrow on committed traditional jazz aficionados who place a higher value on lengthy experience. For this show, the volume of enthusiasm expressed by the audience was solidly pro-youth.

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