“It’s not very often that you hear “Carry On” played on bassoon,’’ the high school student sitting next to me at Friday night’s Sixth Floor Trio concert said appreciatively.
Darn right, you don’t. And if a Kansas song played on piano, clarinet and bassoon not only sounds unlikely, but truly to be avoided, then surprise: this group of recent Curtis Institute of Music graduates made it work.
I wouldn’t call “Carry On My Wayward Son” the highlight of the concert, the second FUZE! event of the season at the Akron Art Museum. But it was a fun way to end a performance that absolutely blew through the auditorium.
Teddy Abrams (clarinet and piano), Harrison Hollingsworth (bassoon and violin) and Johnny Teyssier (clarinet) love playing folk music, they told the audience. To that end, they’ve made their own excellent arrangements that bring out the folk element in all kinds of genres, drawing on their top-notch classical training.
What I’ll remember with real pleasure is the full-bore playing of Teyssier in one of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances, and the way that Abrams exploded with his big, magnificent clarinet sound in a klezmer tune.
Belize, with a Latin feel, pulsated with energy, and Hollingsworth — playing, as he joked, “the great Latin jazz instrument, the bassoon” — rocked.
At one point, Hollingsworth asked the audience to choose the next piece, suggesting that we yell “Yay” for the choice we preferred. It sounds dreadful, but it absolutely wasn’t. The hour-long event was like hanging out with funny friends who just happen to be really good at playing anything. (They all lived on the sixth floor while at Curtis, hence the name.)
Tuesday Musical Association, a Knight Arts grantee, presents the FUZE! series in partnership with the Akron Art Museum, also a Knight Arts grantee. Through them, the trio also did a master class at Kent State University, in which the students improvised with the performers, and lecture/demonstrations at Hudson High School and Wadsworth High School, spreading the outreach beyond Akron.
The final FUZE! concert of the season presents cellist Maya Beiser and pianist/composer Pablo Ziegler at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 6, at the Akron Art Museum.