Plus guest vocalist and spoken-word artist Emcee Infinite
Wednesday, June 6
6 and 8 p.m.
Event sponsor – Rodney Strong Vineyards
What do you get when you throw together classical string players, a vocalist/spoken word/human beat box artist, a jazz trombonist, and hip sensibility? Well, the obvious answer is you get the Cosa Nostra Strings plus special guest Emcee Infinite. This outfit, playing two shows Spoonbar, is the latest brainchild of Adam Theis – the aforementioned jazz trombonist – who is the instigator and top gun of an octopus-like organization called the Jazz Mafia.
Together for more than 15 years, the Jazz Mafia is like something you might get if you combined George Clinton, P.T. Barnum, Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd, and Sun Ra. In its lifetime this musical big tent, with Adam as ringleader, has spawned probably a dozen bands, including the Realistic Orchestra, the Brass Mafia, Shotgun Wedding, and now the Cosa Nostra Strings. Theis and his team are like the Borg from Star Trek: Next Generation, an unstoppable alien species that assimilates all civilizations it encounters – resistance is futile. Only unlike the Borg, these musicians are benevolent.
And cutting-edge. That’s the quality shared by all the Jazz Mafia subgroups – a commitment to breaking ground, frequently by absorbing trends in electronic music and hip hop. Theis brings a jazz sensibility to it all, which means the artists can play and the audience always knows it’s in good hands.
The Cosa Nostra Strings consist of three conservatory trained string players; Shaina Evoniuk on violin, Keith Lawrence on viola, Lewis Patzner on cello; an eclectic percussionist, Aaron Kierbel; and Emcee Infinite (a.k.a. Carlos Aguirre), a singer and spoken word artist and human beat box who can vocalize the sounds of an entire band.
Then there’s Theis himself, a trombone ace and talented composer who in 2008 won an Emerging Composer grant from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to compose “Brass, Bows & Beats: A Hip Hop Symphony” consisting of 50 jazzers, orchestra players, and vocalists that toured around the country in 2009-2010. Adam is a Festival veteran. He first played the festival in 1999 with his group Cannonball.
Only six musicians will throw down at Spoonbar, but the dynamics will be more than enough to fill the room. The restaurant itself will serve a summer-inspired, three-course prix-fixe dinner for each show. First seating is 6 p.m., second seating is 8 p.m.; music begins at the half-hour following.