Turtle Island Quartet
By Rick Mason Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Around the time they were tackling the monumental legacy of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in 2007, the Turtle Islanders dropped the String from its name. Although certainly not indicative of any change in the group’s classic acoustic chamber instrumentation, maybe it was meant to eliminate any suggestion that TIQ is in any way a standard string quartet. In fact, Turtle Island has been dazzlingly eclectic since its origins in the late ’80s, cross-pollinating virtuoso classical technique with jazz improvisation in a repertoire featuring vivid fusions of classical, bop, bluegrass, blues, Indian classical, and Latin, as well as more esoteric influences. On their new Have You Ever Been . . .? (Telarc) the quartet’s two violins, viola, and cello take on Jimi Hendrix, brilliantly capturing the intellectual and visceral wonder of his music and, even more impressively, finding sufficient connections to emulate the spirit and ingeniousness of his iconic guitar work. Most spectacular is Mark Summer’s solo cello version of “Little Wing” (complete with Hendrixian acrobatics on the strings), “Voodoo Child” (soaring psychedelics intact), and a scintillating “All Along the Watchtower.” Surrounded by the Hendrix tunes is violinist David Balakrishnan’s four movement suite “Tree of Life,” which was inspired by Charles Darwin and evolves through myriad genres adeptly linked like the branches’ organisms.
Sun., Sept. 12, 7 p.m., 2010