This week’s highlights in our listening area include a new art exhibition, a new-music festival, a celebration of a regional jazz legend, and the world premiere of a new album by a beloved musician in Hudson, N.Y.
Tom Slaughter's playful imagery goes on view at MASS MoCA this Saturday. The expansive “Icon Alphabet” exhibit celebrates Slaughter's lifetime creating bright, joyful imagery drawn from his paintings, prints, wallpaper, and billboards. This is the first exhibition focusing on Slaughter's bold personal visual vocabulary since his death in 2014. Slaughter’s images are quintessentially modern, their subjects rendered with deft vividness and graphic punch. The simplicity of Slaughter’s forms and the artist’s use of primary colors suggest ties to Henri Matisse’s cut-outs or Alexander Calder’s mobiles.
Meanwhile over in Williamstown, the annual I/O new music festival runs all weekend with a series of free concerts on the Williams College campus and at the Clark Art Institute. Including music by composer-in-residence Sato Matsui and guest artists Bearthoven, the festival includes performances by the I/O Ensemble, IOTA, the Axxea Quartet, and an array of Williams faculty, students, alumni, and guests. Highlights include the IOTA Ensemble performing Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s “To the Hands” on Saturday night, a meditation for voices and string ensemble. On Sunday at 3pm, the festival concludes at The Clark with a program called OUT OF THE BOX: Sequential, featuring the Axxea Quartet and the Williams Percussion Ensemble, performing music for string quartet, percussion, and electronics by Tristan Perich.
For many decades, pianist Lee Shaw reigned as the Capital District’s “Queen of Jazz.” Over the years, Shaw studied with Oscar Peterson, taught piano to John Medeski, and worked with countless jazz luminaries, including Arnie Lawrence, Frank Foster, Pepper Adams, and Zoot Simms. Filmmaker Susan Robins made an award-winning documentary about Lee called “Lee's 88 Keys,” which came out in 2015, the same year that Lee Shaw died at age 89. This Saturday at 7:30, the Spencertown Academy will screen Robins’s documentary, which will be introduced by the filmmaker herself, and pianist Wayne Hawkins will be on hand to perform some of Lee’s music live.
Anyone familiar with the Hudson, N.Y., music scene knows Tony Kieraldo. Tony is everywhere. He music-directed the opera, “Mother of Us All,” that took place at Hudson Hall last year. He turns up every few months playing jazz with a quartet at Spotty Dog Books & Ale. He’s a regular sideman with resident rock star Tommy Stinson’s many projects, including Bash & Pop. He’s a devoted music teacher to young and old throughout the county. If you go to a wedding in Hudson, chances are good you’ll find him behind the piano. But more than anything else, Tony is a fixture at Club Helsinki Hudson, where he reigns as the unofficial resident pianist. He’s the secret sauce of the Hudson music scene and the glue holding it all together.
Tony had a crazy idea last year. He started making little videos called “minute rags,” short renditions of pop songs and ragtime music that he played dressed up in different costumes each week -- in drag or as a reindeer, for example. He put the videos on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. When he started getting views in the many thousands for numbers like “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”, “Turkey in the Straw,” and ragtime versions of Portugal the Man’s “Feel It Still” and Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” he realized he might be onto something. Building upon that original idea, Tony decided to take a few of those songs and make an album with some of the best singers from the Hudson Valley — including Ryder Cooley, Ella Loudon, and Christina Kokonis-Viggers among them — and record videos for every song. These songs are collected in his first solo album under his own name, “Milk Money,” which includes ragtime-y versions of “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles; David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”; Radiohead’s “Karma Police”; and Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” And you can be there to help celebrate Tony’s solo recording debut at Tony Kieraldo’s Album Release Party at Club Helsinki Hudson on Sunday at 8pm.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of the Rogovoy Report, available online at rogovoyreport.com