More great music in Durham

Last night, we went out to a strings concert by the Mallarme Chamber Players with the fantastic violinist Jennifer Curtis and … Dex Romweber (lead guitarist of the Flat Duo Jets). A bit like the Ciompi Quartett, this was another concert that broke down musical barriers and tied a variety of musical traditions together. Complex classical music with amazing, almost acrobatic virtuoso performances contrasted with gorgeous, down-to-earth folk music and a mind-blowing rockabilly jam session with Dex on his Silvertone 1448 electric guitar and Jennifer with her 1777 Vincenzo Panormo violin.

The venue was the Casbah, a small private club on Main St. that has become a very popular music venue in Durham. We enjoyed this performance in the front row and it was just amazing to experience such a caliber of musical talent so close-up and in such an intimate setting. I mean, I love the Mallarme Players – they are wonderful musicians, and I knew Jennifer Curtis is famous, and I had not even spotted Dex’ name on the program at first! So when Suzanne Rousso and Jennifer started out with a pretty, quite modern and very, very technical piece, I thought “wow – they are starting out with a bang!” Next up was another complex contemporary piece for cello and guitar by Radamés Gnattali. But it wasn’t until Jennifer just  – I don’t know – smoked that Paganini Guitar Quartett, when I started to realize that they we were being treated to something truly special that evening.

In the second half, Jennifer changed the mood from Carnegie Hall to Merle Fest, performing a very folksy composition by Mark O’Connor, together with Matthew Slotkin. After that, Dex came on stage, plugged in his famous Silvertone 1448 and started strumming out his earthy rockabilly chords, while Jennifer accompanied him with her near-weightless, soaring violin. As they say around these parts: That was som’thin else. I had never heard a sound quite like that – a single electric guitar, a violin and Dex’ gravelly blues-rock voice. A-ma-zing!

So these guys took us from Gnattali and Paganini to a rockabilly cover of Brazil in a matter of an hour and a half. And Jennifer Curtis did not even seem to break a sweat. And after the show, on our way to the car, we walked past Dex, who was smoking a cigarette outside the club. He looked like he’d had fun that evening as well.

[Update – embedded video below]

Here is a video of the jam session: Dex and Jennifer doing Minor Swing:

Comments are closed.