All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

235

Bert Turetzky & Friends: San Diego, CA May 26, 2011

Bert Turetzky & Friends: San Diego, CA May 26, 2011
Robert Bush By

Sign in to view read count
Bert Turetzky and Friends
Dizzy's
San Diego, CA
May 26, 2011

Bertram Turetzky might well be considered the Godfather of San Diego contrabass. He has mentored many of the area's top players, like Bob Magnusson, Mark Dresser, and Rob Thorsen, to name a few.

Even though he's retired from teaching since 2003, Turetzky remains active, if selective about gigs. His Dizzy's concert was a relatively rare example of Turetzky the performer, playing a hometown show.

The bassist gathered a small group of mostly string players to accompany him. His main collaborator, though—in music, as in life—was his wife Nancy, who just so happens to be a virtuoso flautist. Also on the bill were violinist Alyse Dreiling, violist Francesca Savage, and Lorie Kirkell on the cello. A final ingredient was the narration of Dizzy's owner Chuck Perrin, a musician in his own right who read the poem "Mingus In The Underworld " later in the evening.

The music was rich in variety throughout the program, which consisted of classical works, one from the 14th Century, and jazz, some of which was fused with poetry from the likes of Jack Kerouac and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Turetzky kept the personnel onstage constantly in flux as well, going from solo to duo to trio and more.

The bassist began alone, with the first piece from "Beat Suite" a collection of music and poetry, which found him slapping the bass violently while reciting a poem about Harpo Marx. Throughout the recitation, he drew from deep arco lines that contrasted joy and mourning, mixed with deft pizzicato work. He then carried on with Ferlinghetti's "Sometime During Eternity," which used a plucked blues form as its base.

Wife Nancy joined him on piccolo for an adaptation of Ferlinghetti's "Violin and Horse"— a commentary on abstract painting with humorous, almost psychedelic text—soaring and swooping, and acting as a perfect (though odd) partner to the low tones of the bass.

Kerouac's "Deadbelly" followed, and it was Turetzky's first really stunning feature, as he demonstrated his complete understanding and mastery of the blues, lunging and lurching through the form with astonishing bits of hammer-ons, whole sections of double-stops, and triads interspersed with a melody informed and infused by the most gutbucket emotional content—all while reciting lines like "monkeys in his hair, drooling spaghetti, beer and beans." Turetzky walked the changes used glissandi, and pulled deep blue-notes in a mindboggling display of right and left brain cooperation.

Nancy Turetzky returned on flute and Kirkell joined the cast for a mesmerizing reading of 14th Century Italian composer Jacopo Bologna's motet. Although this piece was pre- Baroque, with polyphonic harmony, it sounded startlingly modern. The flute began with a melody that was answered by the cello in an almost-round form. The bass commented throughout, with soft arco lines that supported the others' efforts. The lines became gradually more contrapuntal, reaching a stage where they orbited around each other in a swirling menagerie.

The cellist then departed, leaving the Turetzkys to tackle 20th century composer Richard Felciano's "Spectra." The piece began with the piccolo playing short broken fragments over the bassist's long, drawn low tones. Suddenly they erupted with lines in unison, Turetzky then slapping the edge of his bass and almost hissing the word, "hey." Piccolo yielded to flute, and the bassist's bow began to drift toward the bridge for an eerie sul ponticello effect.

Next up was another tour-de-force, composer and contrabassist Frank Proto's work for bass and narrator, "Mingus In The Underworld." Turetzky began alone; bowing the ominous, spooky melody with an arco so strong it set fixed objects into vibration. Using a wireless microphone, Perrin crept towards the stage to deliver the opening, "M- I-N-G-U-S ! In the spotlight." From then on it was a duet of forceful bowing and occasional turbulent plucking with Perrin's recital of John Chenault's words, becoming quite turbulent, befitting the troubled genius of Mingus.

It should be noted at this point that aside from a microphone for announcements and narration, the entire concert was performed sans amplification, all too rare in these modern times. It made the power of Turetzky's bass even more remarkable. No one in the audience had to strain to hear the bass, unless that was his intention.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb Live Reviews
Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Binker & Moses At London's Jazz Cafe Live Reviews
Binker & Moses At London's Jazz Cafe
by Chris May
Published: September 15, 2018
Read 12 Points 2018 Live Reviews
12 Points 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 14, 2018
Read "Flow Festival 2018" Live Reviews Flow Festival 2018
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 14, 2018
Read "Ostrava Days 2017" Live Reviews Ostrava Days 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "We Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2017
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "36th International Tampere Jazz Happening" Live Reviews 36th International Tampere Jazz Happening
by John Ephland
Published: December 4, 2017
Read "Instant Composers Pool at The MAC" Live Reviews Instant Composers Pool at The MAC
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 8, 2017