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Gerald Carpenter: Lobero to ‘Swing’ Into New Year with Mark O’Connor

The violinist/composer will present Hot Swing! at 8 p.m. Friday

The Lobero Theatre, as part of the “Hot Licks and Frets” series, will present Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing! at 8 p.m. Friday.

The program, as the title implies, mainly will represent O’Connor’s highly individual take on American swing, while at the same time pay homage to his mentor, jazz immortal Stephane Grappelli. His band is composed of Julian Lage and Matt Munisteri on guitars, Kyle Kegerreis on bass and vocalist Heather Masse.

The more I hear of O’Connor’s music, the more reluctant I am to apply to it the label “classical,” “jazz,” “swing” or — gasp! — “hillbilly.” I’m not always sure if the instrument he plays ought to be called a “violin” or a “fiddle.” The two things about which I have no doubt are that the music is by O’Connor and that he is an American.

Born Aug. 5, 1961, in Seattle, O’Connor began with a thorough grounding in the traditional classical violin idiom, but the two string players who influenced him the most came from beyond that world: folk fiddler and innovator Benny Thomasson, and Grappellli, a French jazz violinist.

I might also say of him that he has scarcely met a musical genre he didn’t like — except, perhaps, the somewhat arbitrary harmonics of the Second Viennese School. He never gets so far ahead of his audiences’ tastes that he loses them. All of these musical tributaries have joined in him now, and he accesses them according to the needs of the moment.

As a composer, he has revived and revitalized the “Americana” style that reached its first zenith with Aaron Copland. As a violinist and pedagogue, he has established what can justly be termed an entirely American school of string playing.

Tickets to Friday’s performance are $45 (Section A) and $35 (Section B), and can be purchased from the Lobero box office at 33 E. Canon Perdido or 805.963.0761. Click here to order online.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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