Guest Author - Chris Curtis
"The future is here" according to Mike Marshall as he introduced his two, twenty something, protégé's that form his newest band configuration – Mike Marshall's Big Trio. The Big Trio features Mike Marshall on Mandolin, Alex Hargreaves on Fiddle and Paul Kowert on Bass. The 2 hour performance, held at Sharon House concerts in Gloria and Lee Shapiro's living room, was nothing short of genius. Not to mention, Gloria and Lee are exceptional hosts to both the artists and guests. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming.
The intimacy of experiencing this caliber of musicianship in someone's living room is delicious. You are able to absorb the passion felt so deeply by the musicians as they play and the music washes over you, untouched and raw. There were times when these three musicians were so in sync that it seemed like they were playing as one. Yet, it was still possible to distinguish the tonal qualities of each of the instruments that blended together into this wave of mesmerizing sound that penetrated the fibers of your soul.
Mike Marshall, mando extraordinaire, is well known for his exploratory and unique innovative playing style on the mandolin and mandocello, as well as his extensive reputation for mentoring aspiring young musicians. His interests and repertoire of musical styles is widely diverse. He is a composer of acoustic music that is distinctively his own. The pieces played during the performance were mostly composed by Mike and can be found on their new project release "Mike Marshall's Big Trio".
Paul Kowert's credentials speak volumes for what this young musician puts forth during a performance. He is equally vibrant picking or bowing his double bass. Watching his facial expressions as he plays reveals his level of passion for the music he is performing. A recent graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, he has joined Chris Thile's critically acclaimed band, Punch Brothers.
At 17, Alex Hargreaves shows an impressive resume. He is thoroughly versed in a diverse range of string music from traditional to modern. Alex is the youngest musician to ever win the Grand Champion division at the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest and he has an extraordinary record of stage credits. According to Mike, Alex has a musical language that has a melodic and harmonic sense that few possess.
While Mike stated it was an honor to be working with Paul and Alex, their admiration and respect for Mike was quite evident. It was interesting to watch them watch Mike's face so intently as they played. It was this common bond of respect that drove the ebb and flow of the performance. Each had the freedom to express their individuality through improvisation as the leads passed between them while the collaborative synergy remained in tact. Most importantly, these guys are simply having fun. Mike's wonderful sense of humor provided a back drop to each tune played.
You can sample one of their performances at Wintergrass 2009 here at you tube. Mike Marshall Big Trio " Sleeping Giant"
A slide show of pictures from this performance can be viewed here. Photography by: Chris Curtis (c) Elusive Creations
The editor paid the normal fee for attendance at this house concert.