Telluride may be a toy town, but it casts a long shadow. Turn around too quickly and you will bump into Telluride no matter where in the world you are. Like yesterday. All day. The point takes on an all-caps clarity if I begin at the end.
Part-time Telluride locals Anne and Vincent Mai are co-producers of the Telluride Musicfest (with documentary filmmaker and part-time local Josh Aronson). Among the regular guests and returning for the 9th annual musical event, (June 22 – July 3) is classically trained violist Kathryn Lockwood.
In her ethnic persona, Australian born Kathryn performs with her husband, Lebanese-born Yousif Sheronick as Duo Jalal. On April 27 the couple happened to have a gig at a club in the alphabet soup of Manhattan's lower East Side.
The evening with our friends began at Pylos, 128 East 7th Street. The Greek restaurant specializes in "home-cooked" rustic fare and delivers: the food is fresh, (don't miss the whole grilled fish, the lamb or the octopus) stylish and tasty. Authentic and unfussy as the decor. The Santorini wines are wonderfully crisp and light. Our waitress was all business, but never inappropriate. The vibe at Pylos is decidedly family, warm and fuzzy. Brought us back to Greece, where Telluride Inside…and Out spent three weeks this past Fall. Definitely worth a trip downtown to Avenue A.
We would have lingered over dessert and coffee at Pylos, but Duo Jalal had an 8 p.m. curtain.
The musical event at Drom was a release party for Duo Jalal's newest project, a CD entitled "A Different World," featuring original compositions by Yousif and Kathryn and a number of their talented friends, many of whom were in the audience, several of whom performed, including one of Yousif's mentors, the elegant, understated percussionist Glen Valdez and the extraordinary clarinetist David Krakauer.
David is a force of nature and yes, another link to Telluride. David was guest performer two years in a row at the Telluride Musicfest, (seasons three and four), where he blew minds whenever he blew his horn. His music, world music in alliance with jazz, rock, funk, hip hop and klezmer, never failed to bring the local crowd to its feet. Happened again last night during Duo Jalal's grand finale. "A Wedding Song," including Kathryn, Yousif, Glen and David, is a rip-roaring ensemble number that left us all breathless. (But not David.) Yowsa.
Viola and percussion are not an intuitive pairing, but Kathryn and Yousif clearly enjoy pushing the envelope in the service of their art form, music. Bringing together disparate instruments and cultures is, for them, is a high wire act performed fearlessly without a net. Turns out the brooding sonority of Kathryn's sensuous viola makes a fine harmonic compliment to the elegant Yoursif's many and varied percussive moods and textures, all nicely spiced with with flavors from the Mideast.