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Millbrook Library Paris Cabaret

Birth of an exciting new trio
by Kevin T. McEneaney
Sat Feb 6th, 2016

Sponsorship by The Millbrook Arts Group leaps from success to success while the Millbrook Library under Stephanie Harrison’s new leadership now connects to the community in more innovative ways.

First happening this past Saturday, James Wharhola, Andy Wharhol’s nephew, gave a book signing in connection with his new exhibit at the Millbrook Library. He made some humorous and informative comments on his late uncle. A noted illustrator in the tradition of Norman Rockwell, Warhol has of late turned from Mad magazine to children’s books; a recent book with amusing and witty touches centers on the Wharhol family itself and eccentric Uncle Andy. Kira from Merritt Books was there with stacks of books for the autograph crowd that enthusiastically snapped up a couple of dozen books. Kira may still have a few autographed editions at her store.

Saturday evening’s “Django Reinehardt and the French Salon” offered an unusual program with the first performance of a young trio. Trumpeter  Alphonso Horne and guitarist Gabe Schnider both attended Juilliard School, while soprano Candice Hoyes graduated from Harvard, then studied at Westminster Choir School.Only last week at the Catskill Jazz Factory in Tannersville, N.Y., they put together a new act centering upon the figure of Django Reinhardt: his achievement, the Classically inflected jazz music of Debussy, Poulenc, and Satie that influenced Reinhardt, and Reinhardt’s subsequent influence on American jazz via Paris. That’s an ambitious mouthful of history, yet it arrived as performance poetry that combined great lyrics, the soulful singing of Hoyes, the brilliant trumpet phrasing of Horne, and the nimble picking of Schnider.

Opening with Debussy, the pages of sheet music scrolled to the floor Horne as Shinder improvised, allowing each other solo riffs on Debussy’s themes. During the first half of the program Hoyes sang in French with a powerful yet modulating dramatic voice; she’s a chanteuse with stage presence and a bright future. Early New Orleans jazz percolated sensationally in Paris just before WWI, influencing not only the French composers mentioned, but Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff. Hoyes sang “Le Petit Waltz” and “L’amor de verge,” and other period numbers redolent with soulful lyrics.

Horne, a student of Marcus Roberts, on trumpet (two) blew a sheen of wonder over the audience who wanted to know where he was playing next (the Mardi Gras celebration at Lincoln Center). After the second half of the performance, which centered upon Reinhardt’s work and its influence on Duke Ellington, the trio engaged in a lively Q & A with the audience. The performers were excited to be playing together and this beneficent affection was genuinely contagious. All three performers have several You Tube clips available.

These talented young musicians were in the happy springtime of their careers. Hoyes, who has an album entitled On a Turquoise Cloud (she appears to be the driving intellect of the trio), concluded with the charming “Veni  Veni” in impeccable Italian. Local Italian restaurant Aurelia's provided white wine and delicious canapes. What will the Millbrook Library do next? How can they top the debut of this arresting trio with swirling flamenco jazz riffs by Schnider?