TUR­TLE IS­LAND

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Quar­tet Have You Ever Been...? (te­larc) Jimi Hen­drix on strings. Oh, my. And the Tur­tle Is­land Quar­tet is cov­er­ing not just the chest­nutty “All Along the Watch­tower” and the maybe-pre­dictable “Hey, Joe,” but also the gui­tarist’s trippy, sound-ef­fects fan­ta­sia “1983 ... A Mer­man I Should Turn to Be” and the heavy “Voodoo Child (Slight Re­turn).” What a pro­gram it would have been to have these folks open­ing for Hen­drix, whose amaz­ing gui­tar­work I twice wit­nessed in con­cert. His blues-based play­ing was truly psy­che­delic, but it also seemed or­ganic, in the sense that his move­ments and ex­press­sions seemed to pro­foundly cor­re­spond to the sounds com­ing out of his gui­tar. The quar­tet mem­bers — David Balakr­ish­nan and Mads Tolling on vi­o­lin; Jeremy Kit­tel, vi­ola; and Mark Sum­mer, cello — are ob­vi­ously in­spired but just as ob­vi­ously ham­pered by the avail­able in­stru­ments from even ap­proach­ing Hen­drix’s es­sen­tial wild­ness. His (care­fully shaped) gui­tar tone sounded like song screams of pure kun­dalini cre­ativ­ity; this group, while to­tally ded­i­cated and vir­tu­osic, is just too tame to re­call that qual­ity. An in­ter­lude amid the Jimi pro­gram is much more com­pelling. The four-part “Tree of Life” piece, com­posed by Balakr­ish­nan on the 150th birth­day of the pub­li­ca­tion of Dar­win’s On the Ori­gin of Species, is phan­tas­magor­i­cally full of fla­vors and col­ors; as such, it could have stood alone as a fit­ting trib­ute to Hen­drix’s vi­sion and en­ergy. — Paul Wei­de­man

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