Nellie McKay and Turtle Island Quartet Perform Tonight at Eccles Center

Nellie McKay and Turtle Island Quartet Perform Tonight at Eccles Center

Singer, songwriter, ukulele player, pianist, mimic, comedienne and actor Nellie McKay joins forces with two-time Grammy award-winning Turtle Island Quartet for a jazzy jaunt back in time. The program, "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing," fills The Eccles Center with the tunes of Billie Holiday, Billy Strayhorn, Doris Day and the Weimar cabaret of the 1920s (plus some present-day originals). Show starts at 7:30 p.m.

McKay and Turtle Island share a knack for improvisation as well as a tendency to charm. A "bewitching pixie of a performer" (The New York Times), McKay can pull off sweetness and sunshine as well as biting wit with her beguiling stage presence and velvet vocals. Equally versatile and original in its endeavors, Turtle Island fuses the classical quartet esthetic with contemporary American musical styles and evocative and innovative rhythms. This rare collaboration will include originals by McKay and Turtle Island. And the show borrows from the icons of the 1920s and 1930s: Billie Holiday favorites, such as These Foolish Things and The Very Thought of You; classics made famous by Marlene Dietrich such as Ich Bin Die Feshce Lola and Black Market; and music from Doris Day and Strayhorn (including the standard, "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing").

Turtle Island Quartet, which was founded in 1985, has been unafraid to push the boundaries of chamber music. The members - David Balakrishnan, Mark Summer, Mateusz Smoczynski and Benjamin von Gutzeit - have brazenly journeyed through an array of genres not typically associated with string ensembles: folk, bluegrass, swing, be-bop, funk, R&B, new age, rock, hip-hop, as well as music of Latin America and India. The Grammy-winning quartet has a vast repertoire packed into dozens of recordings as well as soundtracks for film, TV and radio (Today Show, All Things Considered, Prairie Home Companion, and Morning Edition). And this is not the group's first foray into collaboration with edgy artists; Turtle Island has teamed up with everyone from Paquito d'Rivera to Leo Kottke.

In describing the quartet, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reviewer raves, "It must have been like this when Beethoven was taking Vienna by storm - the exhilaration of seeing the future of classical music unfold before your eyes and ears."

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