LISTENING POST: Chamber sounds, Ear Pollen, and all that jazz

‘finest musicians on the planet’ to appear

# PHOTO LEAD Smol Ensemble Credit Elizabeth Theriot Copy
Photo credit: Elizabeth Theriot
21st CENTURY CHAMBER SOUNDS: smol ensemble are among the bands featured in the 7th annual SoundNOW Contemporary Music Festival, Jan. 28 - Feb. 3.

Guitars galore; classical, contemporary and jazzy chamber music; and the start of an adventurous duet series fill the late January/early February calendar. A couple of the concerts (Jesse Cook and Al Di Meola) are pricey, but most are free (though with donations encouraged). That’s free, y’all. As in no charge. As in quit bitching for a minute about the extortionist shenanigans of the pop-rock Ticket Cartel, put down the remote and come out to hear some of the finest musicians on the planet performing highly imaginative, seriously entertaining music that just might open up a new window on the world for you.

Fri., Jan. 19


COOK(ING) IN SANDY SPRINGS: Canadian virtuoso guitarist Jesse Cook plays in the Byers Theatre at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center on Fri., Jan. 19. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Byers Theatre

Jesse Cook, Byers Theatre at Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center — Juno-award-winning Canadian acoustic guitar wizard Jesse Cook draws upon a cornucopia of styles — from flamenco, classical and jazz to zydeco, blues and samba — to create music truly worthy of the label “world music.” His YouTube library of some 250 videos chronicling his studio and live performances engages a million fans a month from across the globe. Don’t miss this opportunity to catch him at City Springs, Fri., Jan. 19.
$43.1-$64.65. 8 p.m. Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, Sandy Springs City Hall, 1 Galambos Way, Sandy Springs, 30328. 770-206-2022.


Sun., Jan. 21


MARKING THEIR 48TH SEASON: The Atlanta Chamber Players celebrate with a free matinee concert at Ahavath Achim Synagogue Sun., Jan. 21, featuring works by Ravel and Poulenc. PHOTO CREDIT: Atlanta Chamber Players

Atlanta Chamber Players, Ahavath Achim Synagogue — The Atlanta Chamber Players celebrate their 48th season with a concert showcasing French composers at Ahavath Achim Synagogue Sun., Jan. 21, at 3 p.m. The afternoon program features Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin (arr. for woodwind quintet), Francis Poulenc’s Sextet for wind quintet and piano, and Maurice Ravel’s Piano Trio. An open reception follows the performance. No admission charge or reservation is required, but a $20 donation for the Ahavath Achim Cultural Arts Fund will be appreciated.
Free. 3 p.m. Ahavath Achim Synagogue, 600 Peachtree Battle Ave NW, Atlanta, 30327. 404-594-3445.


Tue., Jan. 23 and Wed., Jan. 24

DI MEOLA ON TAP: Guitar maestro Al Di Meola performs at City Winery Atlanta Tue., Jan. 23 and Wed., Jan. 24. PHOTO CREDIT: Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola, City Winery Atlanta — Guitar wizard Al Di Meola visits City Winery Atlanta for a two-night stand Tue., Jan. 23 and Wed., Jan. 24. A prolific composer, and performer, Di Meola has released more than two dozen albums as a leader. As a fusion jazz avatar, he rose to prominence with Chick Corea’s Return to Forever in 1974, followed by a successful solo career and notable collaborations including an acoustic guitar trio with Paco De Lucia and John McLaughlin. Recently, Di Meola has been mining The Beatles catalog, writing an autobiography, and working on a solo guitar album.
$55-$100. Doors 5:30 p.m. Music 7 p.m. City Winery Atlanta, Ponce City Market, 650 North Avenue, Atlanta, 30308 404-946-3791.


Sat., Jan. 27


JAZZY CHOPIN: Pianist, composer and arranger Matt Herskowitz performs “Chopin Etudes en Jazz” at Emory University’s Emerson Concert Hall Sat., Jan. 27. PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Dean

Matt Herskowitz, Cherry Logan Emerson Concert Hall, Emory University — Part of the Jazz Meets Classics series, Emory Arts presents pianist, composer, and arranger Matt Herskowitz performing “Chopin Etudes en Jazz.” Combining virtuosic classical discipline with a deep affinity for jazz, world music and free improvisation, Herskowitz creates an eclectic listening experience. During the last decade, Herskowitz has premiered works in settings ranging from New York’s Central Park to Germany’s Köln Philharmonie and collaborated with top classical, jazz and pop artists at music festivals across the globe.
Free. 8 p.m. Cherry Logan Emerson Concert Hall, Emory University, 1700 N. Decatur Rd, Atlanta, 30322. Emerson Series.


Sun., Jan. 28-Sat., Feb. 3


21st CENTURY CHAMBER SOUNDS: The Atlanta Contemporary Ensemble conducted by Amy Wilson (photo) kicks off the 7th annual SoundNOW Contemporary Music Festival, a week-long series of concerts that runs from Sun., Jan. 28 through Sat., Feb., 3. PHOTO CREDIT: Felix Adamo

SoundNOW Festival, CORE and Florence Kopleff Recital Hall — In a series of seven concerts spanning Jan. 28 - Feb. 3, the seventh annual SoundNOW Contemporary Music Festival showcases Atlanta’s premier new music ensembles. At each event, audiences will experience a variety of musical styles and instrumental configurations performed by some of the finest musicians in the 21st century chamber music world. All SoundNOW concerts are free and start at 7 p.m. The opening event, which features the Atlanta Contemporary Ensemble (ACE) conducted by Amy Wilson, is at Core Dance Studio in Decatur. The remaining SoundNOW concerts take place at Florence Kopleff Recital Hall on the Georgia State University downtown campus. Schedule: ACE at Core Dance in Decatur (1/28), neoPhonia New Music Ensemble with special guest artist Jeremy Muller (1/19), Bent Frequency (1/30), Chamber Cartel (1/31), Terminus Ensemble & Majid Araim (2/1), Atlanta Contemporary Music Collective (atlcmc) & Artifactual String Unit (2/2), smol ensemble and Atlanta Improvisers Orchestra (2/3).
Free. 7 p.m. (1/28) CORE, 133 Sycamore St, Decatur, 30030. (404) 373-4154. (1/29-2/3) Florence Kopleff Recital Hall, Georgia State University, 15 Gilmer St SE, Atlanta, 30303.


Mon., Jan. 29


GUITAR A LA TURK: Turkish jazz guitarist Timuçin Şahin brings his trademark double-neck instrument to Gallery 992 for a special engagement Mon., Jan. 29. PHOTO CREDIT: Tobias Wagner

Timuçin Şahin, Gallery 992 — Turkish guitarist Timuçin Şahin will be performing a solo concert at Gallery 992 in the West End Mon., Jan. 29. Şahin’s music occupies a hybrid space between free improvisation, avant-garde jazz and contemporary funk. His approach to playing involves a specially constructed double-neck guitar with one fretless neck, which allows for microtones and pitch effects. Şahin has recorded with the likes of Randy Brecker, Robin Eubanks, Kai Eckhardt, Mike Mainieri, Tyshawn Sorey, Mark Ferber and the Concertgebouw Jazz Orchestra. He has composed works for the Amsterdam Percussion Group, Occult Ensemble, Mivos String Quartet, Timetable Percussion Ensemble, TobeSung and Loadbang. Opening for Şahin at Gallery 992 on Mon., Jan. 29, is an Atlanta-based improv trio featuring Adam Tahir Mirza, Majid Araim and Cecilia Trode.
$15 (NOTAFLOF). Doors 8 p.m. Music 8:30 p.m. Gallery 992, 922 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. Atlanta, 30310. (678) 974-8144.


Tue., Jan. 30


VEGA QUARTET IN OXFORD: The Vega String Quartet performs a free chamber music concert featuring works by Mozart and Smetena at Williams Hall on the Oxford College of Emory University campus Tue., Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. PHOTO CREDIT: Fernando Decillis

Vega Quartet, Williams Hall, Oxford, Georgia — Emory University’s resident Vega String Quartet performs a free chamber music concert at Williams Hall on the Oxford College of Emory University campus on Tue., Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. On the program are W. A. Mozart’s String Quartet in B-flat Major, K. 458 (“The Hunt”) and Bedřich Smetana’s String Quartet No 1 in E minor (“From My Life”).
Free. 7:30 p.m. Williams Hall, Williams Gymnasium Old, 100 Hammill St, 30054, Oxford College of Emory University, 801 Emory Street Oxford, GA, 30054. (770) 784-8888.


Sat., Feb. 3


AURAL POLLINATION REDUX: Ear Pollen, Part 2, a monthly series of duets curated by instrument constructor and performer Klimchak, begins Sat., Feb. 3, with guest star Bill Taft at Atlanta Contemporary. PHOTO CREDIT: Ted Johnson

Ear Pollen, Part 2, Atlanta Contemporary — In 2020, Klimchak, celebrated Atlanta-based percussionist, composer and constructor and player of ingenious, often weirdly whimsical, musical instruments, curated a series of concerts collectively titled Ear Pollen. The concerts were staged at 378, the sadly defunct art and performance space on in Candler Park. “The idea behind Ear Pollen is to have a showcase area for the many different niches of experimental music from electronic to acoustic, from jazz to noise,” Klimchak said at the time. “I’m primarily interested in…solo and duet improvisation…because smaller groups tend to spark more of a conversational feel between the performers and with the audience.” The series was building momentum when the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on such gatherings. Happily, Atlanta Contemporary has provided Klimchak with the means and venue to revive Ear Pollen, albeit in a slightly altered form. This time around, each monthly concert will feature Klimchak playing a duet with a different artist. The first installment, a Saturday matinee at 4 p.m. on Feb. 3, pairs Klimchak with Bill Taft, a prolific composer, bandleader (W8ing4UFOs) and improvisationalist. Ear Pollen concerts are free, but Atlanta Contemporary is limiting attendance so be sure and register.
Free with registration. 4-5 p.m. Atlanta Contemporary, 535 Means Street NW, Atlanta, 30318. 404-688-1970. earpollen klimchak