Six months ago, some good friends witnessed a concert they couldn’t resist telling me about.
“You have got to hear this group,” they said. “Time for Three is officially amazing.”
Hyperbole aside, I decided to take the bait. Two nights ago, my wife and I discovered that our friends weren’t exaggerating.
Time for Three is a classical/bluegrass trio that formed while studying at Philadelphia’s legendary Curtis Institute of Music. (That’s the official part.) According to the program, they became popular after entertaining an in-the-dark crowd with an impromptu bluegrass jam session during a power outage while onstage at a classical concert. The rest is star-studded history. Last Thursday, we sat with jaws dropped as two violins and double bass filled the concert hall with a sound as timeless as Mark O’Connor, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma’s Appalachian concoctions – first or second. (That’s the amazing part.)
Zach De Pue, Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer (no relation, I asked) have the magical ability to tastefully weave bluegrass, classical, folk and jazz methods across music from the same genres (think pop-free Nickel Creek sans lyrics). Their original pieces, composed by bassist Ranaan Meyer, are brilliant examples of this rare (and hard to describe) ability – just listen. The skill isn’t lost on popular works either; we listened as they performed a toe-tappin’ Double Violin Concerto by Bach, a romping Csardas by Vittorio Monti, and a chilling rendition of Blackbird by The Beatles.
Forget their supreme technical accuracy for a minute – these guys are artists. Zach makes the violin sing, Nick helps it scream, and Ranaan does wonders with the dog house. Taken together, they can make you laugh, give you chills, or help you remember why you love music. There’s an energetic hopefulness in their music that their stage presence duly reflects. And just for fun, the violinists improv on the same violin – at the same time – during Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5. What do they play? Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof, of course.
So, if you’re as bummed as I am about the breakup of your favorite bluegrass trio, get in line now for a new favorite (sorry Alison!). And, when their new record hits shelves and iTunes next spring, make time to hear it. Wyoming 307 and Forget About It, two unreleased tunes performed at the show, are worth waiting for.
If you absolutely can’t wait, get instantly gratified with their current offering. You won’t be disappointed. You might even be officially amazed.