(From a letter to a friend who attended the famous Hendrix "Band of Gypsies" New Years' Eve concert.)

There's this hotshot classical violinist named Nigel Kennedy - his recording of Vivaldi's 4 seasons was for several years the best-selling classical album of all time. Anyhow, he re-invented himself as an irritating blue- collar yob and retreated from the classical scene. He just arrived back; this winter he's doing a tour under the monicker Kennedy: Structures not Strictures with a dobro/guitar/standup-bass/oboe/flute/cello/cello band. One of the guitarists is John Etheridge, formerly of Soft Machine and the Stephan Grapelli band. The main attraction is what he calls the Hendrix Suite, a bunch of tunes based on Jimi chestnuts (1983/Merman, Little Wing, Hey Joe, Purple Haze, etc) - I caught this in Vancouver last weekend and my nerve system's still shakin'. Nigel is On To Something, if it comes through NY you want to catch it. Mind you, this is classical music, not rock 'n' roll. But it is really REALLY intense, and Kennedy is a blow-your-brains virtuoso, and the band is good, and the music has integrity. Best cut was on Hey Joe - while you can't pretend to be doing blues in a classical mode, they dropped the blues angle and pulled out the tune, which is sad sad sad even when it's not a blues. It's not often you get to see something completely new and very good.

Be warned, there's also some Bartok and Bach on the program. The audience went nuts, I haven't seen a musically literate audience so over the top since Laurie Anderson's Mr Heartbreak tour which has gotta be 15 years ago now...


author · Dad
colophon · rights
picture of the day
December 02, 1998
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