Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck and Zakir Hussain at a Nashville rehearsal.

Chemistry of a Trio: An Interview with Zakir Hussain

Powerhouse players Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer have reunited once more and visited Cornell. Ahead of their concert, we were able to speak with Mr. Zakir Hussain, perhaps the world’s most highly influential and virtuosic tabla player. If you haven’t seen Zakir Hussain perform, search for a concert of his on YouTube. It is no mistake that his incredible skill, personality and charm have been praised; it really does put a smile on your face to watch him play. The “tabla is a percussion instrument,” Hussain explained.

Courtesy of Cornell University

A Jazzy Night at Barnes Hall

Barnes Hall’s auditorium temporarily transformed into a jazz cafe from La La Land on the evening of Thursday, September 27. Producing a fusion of harmonious tones and fascinating improvisation, the Dave Solazzo Trio, with Dave Solazzo on the piano, Mike Solazzo (Dave’s father) playing bass and Tom Killian on the drums, performed a jazz concert that reminded me of the Oscar-winning film. The program started with Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?” The piece opened with a piano melody, but was quickly joined by the metallic sound of the cymbals on the drum set and supported by a steady beat of deep pizzicatos from the bass. As the tempo of the song sped up or slowed down based on the discretion of whoever was playing the melody, the other members of the trio would match the beat accordingly with extreme precision. This first tune also incorporated solos for both the bassist as well as the drummer, during which the musicians constantly checked in with each other through eye contact and head nods to maintain balance and structured harmony.

Cayuga Sound Rocks Stewart Park

Last weekend marked the second annual Cayuga Sound. Lady D & Shadow Spirits and Sofi Tukker kicked off the first night of action from Stewart Park. While both acts performed some of their more well-known selections and energized the crowd, their sets were limited by the threat of thunderstorms and relatively small audience. As it got closer to 7 p.m., Dan Smalls ’92 of DSP Shows, the company which organizes Cayuga Sound and most other concert events in Ithaca, came on to the stage to introduce Young the Giant and to let festivalgoers know of the impending bad weather. “We’re hoping to give you all an hour of music,” Smalls said before turning the mic over to Friday night’s headliners Young the Giant.

Courtesy of Cayuga Chamber Orchestra

Cayuga Chamber Orchestra Kicks Off New Season

The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra’s (CCO) performance at Ithaca College’s Ford Hall on Friday, September 21st, was aptly titled “A Heroic Beginning.” The orchestra began its 42nd concert season with a delightful evening featuring the overture to Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor and Ludwig van Beethoven’s classic Symphony No. 3 with guest pianist Prof. Miri Yampolsky, music. A staple in the city of Ithaca, the CCO has been a premier institution of classical music performance since 1976. Opening the evening’s concert was the energetic overture of the renowned opera “Orfeo ed Euridice,” which first premiered in 1762 in Vienna. The piece is based on a Greek myth in which Orpheus makes a deal with the god of the underworld to resurrect his dead wife, but only if he can walk in front of her out of hell without looking back.

Homecoming 2018: A Tale of Two Acts

Whenever someone asks me if homecoming weekend is fun, I say, “It’s overrated. If you have work to do, just do that instead. It happens every year and you won’t miss much.” While I skipped all other homecoming activities this weekend, the only one I thought was worth getting out of bed for was the concert — and not just because I had a free ticket. Back when the lineup was announced for the homecoming concert, I could not believe that Cornell students chose CupcakKe to headline such an important event. CupcakKe is a female rapper from Chicago and her sexual, vulgar lyrics are unlike anything else (perhaps her most popular song is called “Deepthroat”).

Courtesy of Myles Cameron

Myles Cameron Is Bringing His Melting Pot of Music to The Haunt

The Cayuga Sound Friday After Party, co-sponsored by Ithaca Underground, promises to be a thrilling night at The Haunt tomorrow, September 21st, with a lineup including Elucid, Space Clubs, Lazy Bones and Myles Cameron. At just 21 years, the final artist on that list is already making waves. His most popular song, “Caged Bird,” has nearly 600,000 plays on Spotify. With a self-described genre of a melting pot, drawing from pop, R&B, hip hop, and indie-electronic, his beats are calm and his lyrics rhythmic. Looking at this trending song, one can easily see the poetic tendencies in his writing.

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Cayuga Sound Grows to Two Days of Music in Stewart Park

The first annual installment of Cayuga Sound saw both X Ambassadors and The Roots headline. But while this past year has certainly been a busy one for X Ambassadors — as the band has been hard at work on their second major record which Sam Harris, X Ambassadors frontman, described to me as constantly in flux but “expected to be completed sometime in 2019” — they have grown their festival to include a second night of action in Stewart Park. This year’s ticket includes acts such as Young the Giant, who rose to stardom through singles like “My Body” and “Cough Syrup,” Talib Kweli, Towkio and dance duo Matt and Kim. Harris described the process in curating this year’s festival in a recent interview with The Sun:

“Honestly, we really just kind of reached out to [this year’s] artists blindly. We didn’t really have any prior relationship with any of them.

Roomful of Teeth performed in Bailey Hall, pictured above

Hold On to Your Dentures: Roomful of Teeth at Bailey Hall

The small a cappella ensemble brought their big guns right away, with each member speaking in rhythm, creating a wall of chatter that in an instant, gave way to raucous polyphonic vocals. After a few iterations, rhythmic spoken word became interspersed with small vocal phrases. The piece was chugging along and it was clear that Roomful of Teeth had a very important message to share with the audience that evening. Roomful of Teeth, the Grammy-winning vocal octet, visited Bailey Hall on Friday night to kick off the Cornell Concert Series 2018-2019 season. The group was founded in 2009 with a goal to explore the expressive potential of the human voice.