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Playing for a Cause : Dynamic Russian pianist will perform for New West Symphony benefit.

March 13, 1997|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A few Sundays ago, the young pianist Kirill Gliadkovsky settled into the Raitt recital hall of Pepperdine University for a Russian-leaning recital. By the time the dynamic, unabashedly romantic pianist had finished the showpiece of the afternoon, Mussorgsky's original piano version of "Pictures at an Exhibition," most members of the audience appeared to be, as they say, blown away.

Gliadkovsky, on the faculty of Pepperdine while he studies for his doctorate at USC, is a Russian-born pianist of great skill, and he's not afraid to put muscle behind his well-trained fingers. No doubt, he'll do the same when he performs in a benefit concert for the New West Symphony on Wednesday night at Civic Arts Plaza's Forum Theatre, with a program that includes "Pictures at an Exhibition."

Completing the double-bill concert will be the Vista Trio, made up of violinist Franklyn D'Antonio, cellist Andrew Cook and pianist Shari Raynor. The group will perform a trio by Brahms and an arrangement of Chopin's Nocturne Opus 27, No. 1. It promises to be a strong show of chamber music for a symphonic cause.

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American Songfest: There is a strong body of American songs that have been adopted by jazz musicians and turned into the musical catalog fondly known as "standards." But the original identity of these songs, mostly as vintage show tunes, the fruits of Broadway's pre-TV era heyday, is sometimes overlooked.

That pre-jazz, cabaret-ish style is the road taken by Ojai-based vocalist Anne Kerry Ford on her impressive debut CD, "In the Nest of the Moon."

Though it's a polished production, there is a strong home-grown aspect to it, right down to the title, a translation of the Chumash word "Ojai." The CD was recently released by a small, Ojai-based company, Illyria Records.

Kerry Ford, the wife of celebrated guitarist Robben Ford, has a clear, controlled voice, a warm vibrato, and no blues or identifiably jazz touches when she approaches tunes such as Kurt Weill's "Speak Low," "You Go to My Head," or "For All We Know" (the 1934 number, not the Carpenters' hit).

Although she includes Alan Chapman's 1995 tune "I Know I Am but Summer to Your Heart," Henry Mancini's "Two for the Road" from 1967, and Stephen Sondheim's 1966 tune, "I Remember," the main focus is Broadway circa the '30s and '40s.

The album was recorded at Mad Hatter in Los Angeles, with arrangements of varying density, from simple piano backing by Kerry Ford's regular collaborator and arranger, pianist Michelle Brouman, to more elaborate arrangements, featuring Jon Crosse on clarinet and drummer Tom Brechtlein (long-standing member of Robben Ford's band).

Ojai resident Roger Kellaway, the noted jazz player who also ventures into other areas of music, provides the subtle piano backing on a few tunes.

Robben Ford, who produced the album, also plays on a few tunes, with the acoustic guitar clarity that he brought to Rickie Lee Jones' "standards" project "Pop Pop" in 1991. The bass role is handled by either studio and jazz-world veteran Chuck Domanico or the fine Chris Symer, a recent emigre to Ojai who played with the Fords up at Wheeler Hot Springs last year.

For those of us steeped in jazz lore, Kerry Ford's attractive package reminds us whence the repertoire came. For the rest, it's simply a celebration of American popular song, from outside the prevailing pop mainstream. Call them old-fashioned, but these songs gain dignity with age, well-placed innuendoes and all.

BE THERE

Kirill Gliadkovsky and the Vista Trio perform Wed., 7:30 p.m., at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza's Forum Theatre. Tickets are $30. (805) 643-8646.

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