Article By: GEORGE VANDOREN Special to The Press
“Jazz Upstairs” at Miller Symphony Hall welcomes vocalist Viktorija Gečytė with the Gene Perla Trio at 7:30 p.m. May 18 to the Rodale Community Room for the fifth consecutive year.
This year, the group is embarking on its 10th annual tour with 11 performances in May in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, followed by nine concerts in California.
Perla is excited about returning to the Rodale Room. “They only book twelve a year. We’re already booked for next year. Channel 39 has agreed to bring a camera crew. They’re going to record the whole evening.”
While the group’s repertoire generally consists of tunes from the Great American Songbook, jazz standards, original compositions, and Lithuania folk songs, Perla says, “I honestly don’t know what we’re playing. We have one new song from Victoria.
“Because this is the 10th year touring together, she’s decided to go back over the songs done over the years and pick out her favorites for the show. And if they’re her favorites, they are our favorites.”
Viktorija Gečytė, a Lithuanian native, has literally been performing since her childhood. After matriculating at Lafayette College thanks to a scholarship, she played jazz clubs in the New York City area. She eventually settled in Paris and performs in the City of Lights, as well as at European jazz festivals.
Perla says he met Gečytė in 2007 and he has always been intrigued by “the way she can deliver a song and really tell a story. About a year later, we started up [the quartet] and continued on.”
Perla is a Berklee College of Music graduate with a long list of music accomplishments. He’s performed with a “who’s who” of jazz and pop artists: Miles Davis, Woody Herman, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Sonny Rollins, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, and Sarah Vaughan, to name a few.
He recently collaborated with Dave Liebman, Adam Niewood, and Adam Nussbaum to form New Light. The quartet has a new take on the music of the Elvin Jones Group’s legendary recordings at the Lighthouse Club in Hermosa Beach, Calif., during the 1970s. The quartet has played to glowing reviews in Santiago, Chile, as well as Detroit and other venues in the United States.
Members of the Gene Perla Trio are: Sean Gough, acoustic piano; Perla, acoustic double bass, and David Jimenez, drums.
When asked what makes the Gene Perla Trio different from other groups, Perla immediately says, “It all stems from Sean [Gough]. He is able to interject different notes into a chord, notes that make the chord sound dissonant almost to the point of being objectionable. But they really work. I call them red notes. Sean gives a different sound. He opens a larger harmonic palette for me.”
Gough is a freelance musician in New York City. He’s appeared in multiple venues across the U.S. and is a pianist, writer, and teacher who is comfortable in virtually any music genre. His writing has been featured in JazzTimes and on NPR.org. He’s a graduate of Lafayette College and Rutgers University.
Jimenez is also New York-based. He’s a graduate of The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music and teaches as well as performs. Jimenez has performed at the Bern Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the Birdland Jazz Club, as well as many other New York jazz venues. He also plays with The T.M. Street Band, Jeff Street Beat Brass Band, Nuci Nebieridze Sextet, and Danielle Friedman Trio.
Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715