Bach, Beatles, Bluegrass and more make a concert to be savored
By Peter Alexander
Time for Three, the classically trained, pop/jazz/gypsy/bluegrass inflected virtuoso trio of two violins and a bass got the rock star treatment last night (Jan. 8) from a cheering audience at Boulder Theater.
The occasion was a fundraiser for the Colorado Music Festival, where Time for Three, or Tf3 as their fans know them, gave their first performances in Boulder. Since those first appearances, the group and Boulder have developed an vibrant mutual admiration. Not only was the audience cheering before Tf3 played their first note, Nick Kendall—one of the violinists and the buoyant, boyish sparkplug of the group—couldn’t say enough about Boulder
“This is an amazing music town,” he said more than once. “You guys are fun!”
In fact, the performance had some elements of a rock show. The three players—Kendall and Zach De Pue, violins, and Ranaan Meyer, bass—made their entrance through stage smoke, and there were some discreet suggestions of a light show. But it’s really the energy and style of performance that got the audience pumped.
Their sheer virtuosity—the ability to play all of those notes, together—wows everyone who hears them. And the mixing of styles and genres, which they have mastered, draws in both the classical audiences who recognize the Bach and Chopin and Stravinsky, and the younger audiences who recognize the Katy Perry and the Mumford and Sons and the Cold Play.
And I’m sure both audiences love the Beatles.
But on top of the ability to merge seamlessly from one style to another, and the awesome technical chops, they are great musicians. The intonation is impeccable, even among all the fireworks, and the balance (except for the odd amplification glitch) and ensemble precision are at the highest level.
In short, Tf3 is the real thing. Those boys can play!
The show opened with three pieces written by members of the group, all from the group’s CDs: Kendall’s “Roundabouts” combined dreamy chords and a funky, jazzy outburst; Meyer’s “Banjo Love” reflected his wish to make his bass into “the world’s largest banjo”; and “Thunderstomp,” also by Meyer, was a Celtic-styled piece written with Béla Fleck in mind. Later they played Meyer’s “Philly Phunk” and their cheeky mashup of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” with Katie Perry’s “Fireworks.”
Their partnership with Steve Hackman, known to Boulder audiences for the Mashup Concerts at the Colorado Music Festival, was represented with “Winter Chaconne,” freely and funkily based on the famous Bach D-minor “Chaconne” for solo violin. And it is likely that Hackman, a longtime partner of the trio, was behind other classical/pop mashups they played.
Signature tunes from Tf3’s live shows were the “Czardas” that closed the first half, and their blazing hot version of “Orange Blossom Special” that seems to grow longer and wilder and faster every time I hear it. After that roof-raising display, encores were a gentle mashup of the Beatles “Norwegian Wood” with a Chopin Ballade (Steve Hackman, is that you?), and an even gentler arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that sent the fans out satisfied, into the freezing rain.
I hope everyone made it home safely. That was a concert to be savored.