From Bill's Desk

Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider | Rhiannon Giddens

with Satoshi Takeishi, percussion
Scott Colley, bass
Johnny Gandelsman , violin
Colin Jacobsen, violin
Nicholas Cords, viola
Michael Nicholas, cello

I have always wanted to bring Brooklyn Rider to McCarter but have never figured out the right context until this opportunity presented itself, which has the quartet joining forces with the saxophone master Joshua Redman. Actually, the four members of BR have been here before but in a totally different context, as longtime members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. However, on their own as four classical musicians acting like rockstars, they have performed with everyone (and everywhere), and in every genre—classical, world, and rock. In a word, they define the word “eclectic,”whether it be string quartets by Beethoven and Philip Glass, or collaborating with Bela Fleck or (as in this case) in a collective format with  Joshua Redman, Satoshi Takeishi and Scott Colley. This McCarter concert is but one of only three performances of this specially-curated program of music reflecting a meeting of equals, combining jazz and classical selections. Joshua Redman should need no introduction—he has been a fixture of the tenor saxophone pantheon for almost thirty years, and a regular visitor to McCarter since 1994 (this  will be his eighth concert here, whether  in various ensemble configurations or as the founding Artistic Director of the San Francisco Jazz Collective) .  At this point in his life and that of jazz in ours, Redman’s   name is synonymous with the words “tenor sax”—as was that of his father, the legendary Dewey Redman. Thankfully, genius does not skip a generation! See them May 18 at 8pm.

Voices Demanding to be Heard
With Special Guests Jake Blount and Tatiana Hargreaves

Every so often I get the chance to “discover” an artist whom, I’m convinced, is sooner or later going to become the next ‘big thing,” as the cliché goes. This, of course, always makes me eager to bring that artist to McCarter, as is exactly the case with Rhiannon Giddens. Here is your chance to be present at the creation (yes, another apropos cliché). Is she the next Nina Simone? Bessie Smith? Mavis Staples?  Odetta? All of the above? Take your pick: singer/songwriter, violinist, banjoist, front woman of the Grammy-winning revivalist string band The Carolina Chocolate Drops to name a few of her many talents.  There are few heights Rhiannon hasn’t already scaled, including becoming a 2017 MacArthur Fellow (“genius grant”) for reclaiming African–American contributions to folk snd country music, and shedding light on new connections between music from the past and the present. You’ve seen Rhiannon the actress on the CMT series Nashville; and she is the first woman to win the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Her latest CD, Freedom Highway—a mixture of protest anthems, Civil Rights-era folk standards, and reimagined slave narratives—is devoted to (in her words) “voices demanding to be heard, to impart the hard-earned wisdom of a tangled, difficult, complicated history; we just try to open the door and let them through.” Rhiannon, a daughter of the South in every fiber of her being, embarked on a journey from folk singer to firebrand armed with a voice that can  summon a Celtic quaver, a sound of girlish innocence, a bluesy sensuality, or a gospel exaltation.  Discover Rhiannon for yourself: you will want to say you were there to witness her McCarter debut, May 23 at 7:30pm.


May 18, 2018 - 8pm

Joshua Redman & Brooklyn Rider

Esteemed saxophonist Joshua Redman joins forces with the game changing string quartet Brooklyn Rider, along with fellow all-star collaborators Satoshi Takeishi (percussion) and Scott Colley (bass), for an entirely unique convergence of their respective worlds.


May 23, 2018 - 7:30pm

Rhiannon Giddens

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens’ critically acclaimed solo debut album masterfully blends genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess. She has performed for President Obama (alongside Aretha Franklin and Emmylou Harris) and regularly appears on CMT’s Nashville.