McGarry and Ganz, Brown quintet, and ‘Massed Guitars’ among local releases

Jan. 23, 2014 @ 10:47 AM

Here are some recent local music releases guaranteed to entice and intrigue:

-- Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz, “Genevieve & Ferdinand Live” (Sunnyside)

Vocalist Kate McGarry and guitarist Keith Ganz have worked together and separately in different types of ensembles. “Genevieve and Ferdinand” (the stage name for the duo) is a gorgeous, intimate collection of songs performed by this Durham-based husband and wife duo, recorded in July 2012 at Soundpure Studios in Durham.
McGarry is of that generation of musicians who grew up with wide-open ears, and this disc continues that eclecticism. Ganz and McGarry pay tribute to standards (“Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine,” “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,”) but also give their individual take on tunes by James Taylor (“Line ’Em Up”), Todd Rundgren (“Pretending to Care”), and other composers. McGarry wrote “Ten Little Indians,” her touching tribute to her family, and Ganz penned “Mr. Long Gones,” on which McGarry sings some stunning vocalise.
Genevieve and Ferdinand are among a growing group of musicians who have national careers but, lucky for us, have chosen to settle in Durham. The duo will have a CD release party at 8 p.m. Feb. 8 at Durham Jazz Workshop-Sharp Nine Gallery. For information, visit

-- John Brown, “Quiet Time” (Brown Boulevard Records)

Durham bassist and band leader John Brown originally released this collection of ballads and tone poems in 2012. The record distributor is marketing it as a special Valentine’s Day release, but no hook or excuse is needed to justify checking out this excellent recording.
The tempos are slow on these selections, inviting the listener to stop for a few moments and pay attention to this expressive ensemble. Saxophonist Brian Miller sets the mood and tone on his opening solo on the arrangement of “Come Live with Me.” Veteran trumpeter Ray Codrington takes the opening theme on Brown’s title composition, and his warm tone sounds so fine with this gorgeous tone poem, and in concert with Miller comes in on sax. Brown pays homage to the late drummer Elvin Jones, one of his mentors, with an arrangement of his tune “A Lullaby of Itsugo Village.”
In addition to Brown, Codrington and Miller, pianist Gabe Evens and percussionist Adonis Rose round out this quintet, who on “Quiet Time” prove that music can be melodic, even romantic, and still be interesting, without descending into “smoothness.” Enough said.

-- Andras Fekete and Matthew Guess, “Triangle Rhysing: Music for Massed Guitars” (DVD)

Sometimes I want to listen to music that is familiar. Saturday afternoons are not the same without Jim Davis’ show on WNCU, with its mix of the blues and the sounds of Stax and Motown Records. Then there are times when (to borrow a phrase from radio announcer B.H. Hudson) I need to listen to something that will blow my head off, like “Triangle Rhysing: Music for Massed Guitars.” Composers Andras Fekete and Matthew Guess performed this four-movement work in 2011 and 2012 in Chapel Hill. In August last year, they assembled more than 50 musicians, chiefly electric guitarists, along with two cellos, two percussionists and three vocalists, and performed the work at Motorco Music Hall in Durham.
This new DVD documents that performance. The composers assembled the guitarists in rows, with cellos, percussionists and vocalists on the Motorco stage. Making use of the electric guitar’s richness in overtones, they create “pulsating sheets of sound,” a description the composers use in their liner notes. This music may not be everyday fare, but I’m glad I live in a place where this kind of gathering can happen.