Created on Thursday, 07 June 2012 Written by Bert SaracoStamper manages to convey a child-like wonder in his words and music, as if he's constantly discovering hidden treasure in the most unlikely places....
JOSHUA STAMPER QUARTET IN CONCERT AT JOE'S PUB IN NYC – 6/03/12
Joshua Stamper's music tends to combine the simple with the complex, the beautiful with the mundane – more often than not, look for the pearl hidden in the field. Stamper manages to convey a child-like wonder in his words and music, as if he's constantly discovering hidden treasure in the most unlikely places. It's symbolic of his outlook that "Interstitials," the title track of his recent album, is not about the spaces we see but the spaces in-between: "The space between two grains of sand, the space between the fingers on my hand, the blade and the ice, the drunk and his vice, the 'if' and the 'then', the nine and the ten, You're the space between...."
Opening for Re-shaping Song, a night of somewhat avant-garde music, the difference between Stamper and headliner David Garland (whose group included Sean Lennon) was evident in the way each artist started off: Garland performed a song about furniture – Stamper, about trees: " How much moodiness of sun? How many soft-footed moons have rubbed their light on your chapped skin? .... You, with your thousand arms skyward stand. You, with your thousand arms skyward stand. You, after having done all stand. You, in such silent adoration stand. You, with your thousand arms skyward..." Backed by a trio of woodwinds, Stamper sang and gently plucked chords and played melodic runs on his guitar. Along with a fresh and varied musical palette and a poetic approach to lyric-writing, Stamper brings a vast understanding of complex arrangement and melodic composition to his music, often setting up a groundwork of guitar for the brass and woodwinds to embellish with interweaving patterns, melodies and counter-points.
Despite the somewhat funky name of the venue, Joe's Pub is a comfortable, casual, but refined space with a well-lit stage and excellent sound. Stamper's guitar was perfectly balanced with Paul Arbogast: (low brass), Michael Cemprola (woodwinds), and Jon Rees (woodwinds and celeste); his low-key but pleasant vocals (occasionally breaking out into an exuberant shout in the new composition, "I Want to be Like You") were clear, unfiltered and always on-pitch.
A wonderful blend of everyman sentiment and musical sophistication, Joshua Stamper's music is uncluttered but complex, his lyrics are deep but easy to relate to, and his performance style is non-threatening but accomplished. A warm combination of classical, jazz, and pop with a small chamber music feel to it, the Joshua Stamper Quartet is a treat to hear in a live performance.
To learn more, and to sample some of Stamper's recent album (and his first with vocals), go to joshuastamper.bandcamp.com or www.joshuastamper.com
words and images: Bert Saraco
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