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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Georgin with Jason Denney
January, 27, 2001
Trinity House Theatre
by Jessica Aguilar Walker
Winter has its way of making the soul contemplative, and suitable are long evenings of meditative instrumental music. That is exactly what Midwest music treasures, bassist Mike Georgin and acoustic guitarist Jason Denney, recently provided at the quaint Detroit Trinity House.
Opening for Mike Georgin was Michigan artist, Jason Denney. A resident of Ann Arbor, Denney's complex guitar technique possesses the rootsiness of Leo Kottke yet transcends the genre in the likes of Peter Mulvey by exploring funk and jazz stylings. Coloring his interpretations with bluesy basslines and tranquil harmonics, he explored this unusual contrast in Merle Travis' "Cannonball Rag" and a cover from Don Ross. The piece, "Brother John," began with a slow, mysterious melody, blushed into dance, and twisted itself back into that original, intriguing melody. There is a thread of the traditional and Celtic in Denney's work, as well. His mesmerizing fingerwork on "Dougan's Hornpipe" hued swinging harmonics with wind instrument-type effects. The subtlety driven and pensively haunting "Highland Dreams" evoked a landscape of patriotism and longing. The sturdy gate of "An Irish Wake" moved with dancing consolation to a tearful joy. Denney shined with agility in the jig, "Stanley's Rag" and ended his set sweetly with an interpretation of the Joni Mitchell tune, "Both Sides Now."
An evening featuring a bass performance? Pendantic, Mike Georgin wasn't. Peppered with his friendly wit, the accomplished entertainer's live, sequenced arrangements were saturated with jazzy, ethnic flavors and sonic insights. He began his set with the primal rumblings and synthesized effects of the mythical "Enter the Shaman." His piece, "Equiline," featured a soothing bassline tinged with Latin percussion. Being from Cincinatti, Georgin has performed with the likes of Over the Rhine, and paid them tribute by uplifting the sad melody 'Happy to Be So' with a playful depth. In the solo, wandering landscape of "The Line Between," Georgin visited some challenging, bolero style fingerwork. Denney, being a transplant from Cincinnati and having played with Georgin in the past, joined him for an atmospheric piece where Georgin's obsessive, soaring fretless was accompanied by Denney's percussive, complicated harmonics. Inspired by imagined snatches of conversation in Cininnati's urban sprawl, Georgin's "Downtown" laced together a funky kaleidoscope of individual melodies. In his encore, he pulled out his piccolo bass for a dramatic little working piece that explored the metallic, horn and voice-like capabilities of the instrument. Being a dedicated jazz musician, Georgin ended his set with a Stevie Wonder-style arrangement of Miles Davis' "l Blues." It is not expected that these two musicians will soon be seen together in such a performance, yet both have, aside from their ensemble work, released several solo works (visit www.mikegeorgin.com and www.jasondennie.com). Trinity House constantly pushes the envelope of spiritual entertainment, and should be thanked for the rare, enjoyable opportunity to see such incredible instrumentalists as Georgin and Denney.
Trinity House is experiencing its 20th season of artistic encounters. For more information about their array of events, rush to www.trinityhouse.org.