1936: Several thousand miles apart two solo musicians sit down to make seminal recordings of their most iconic material. 2022: Across continents, centuries and cultures the sounds of Pablo Casals’ Bach and Robert Johnson’s delta blues intertwine in a musical-visual dialogue conceived by The New Live and artist Gary Kelley.
Bach and the Blues explores a remarkable moment in music and world history. Pablo Casals and Robert Johnson, unbeknownst to one another, lay down some of the most iconic solo sound recordings of the 20th century. Their respective solo expressions take place under equally challenging conditions: Casals in London with his concert career curtailed by Spain’s brutal civil war, and Johnson immersed in an itinerant, borderline existence amidst the poverty and racism of the American south.
Bach and the Blues features one cellist and one blues guitarist together onstage. Their alternating performances of JS Bach and Robert Johnson pair with Gary Kelley’s flowing visuals inspired by tonality and history. Kelley’s monochrome graphic novel Bach and the Blues is also available as an accompaniment to this show for pre-concert book groups, lobby sale, or educational uses.
Bach and the Blues takes classic musical works and remixes them with a unique concert format and instrumentation. As former wcfsymphony Executive Director Rich Frevert explained to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, “This is one of the most interesting programs I’ve been involved with in my career – taking two different genres with improvisation and creating music on the spot. It fits with Jason’s programming philosophy. His reaction was kind of an ‘ah-ha’ moment, realizing what the experience would be like for audiences.”