At once individualistic and innovative and melodically approachable, composer/bassist Matt Ulery is an ideal collaborator with the University of Richmond’s four-time, Grammy-winning, ensemble-in-residence eighth blackbird.
They’ve recorded two widely lauded albums of Ulery’s work: 2012’s “By a Little Light” and 2014’s “In the Ivory,” both on Dave Douglas’ exemplary Greenleaf label. The music blurs the boundaries between jazz and classical music, ranging from cinematic sweep to introspective intimacy, drawing on a wide range of genres and styles.
It’s beautiful stuff, but the demands of separate careers -- and the cost of assembling the additional players for the full ensemble -- make the logistics for performance difficult outside of their shared home base of Chicago. The concert on Wednesday, April 13th at the Modlin Center is a relatively rare opportunity.
As an additional incentive to head to UR on Wednesday, the annual John Cage Musicircus takes place in the building immediately following the concert.
An unpredictable Richmond tradition, the event gathers a wide cross section of Richmond musician and scatters them throughout the building for exactly one hour of simultaneous playing. It’s an opportunity to see some of RVA’s best players up close, and to experience the uncanny frisson of moving between radically different styles. Or just standing where free jazz, samba, bluegrass and Balinese gamelan run together in a multiplexed collision of perfect noise.
Matt Ulery Trio and eighth blackbird play the University of Richmond Camp Concert Hall on Wednesday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. The John Cage Music Circus starts immediately after the concert. Admission is free.