Long-time Berkeleyan Irene Sazer didn’t set out to capture unicorns. But in creating the Real Vocal String Quartet about a decade ago she had to find a particularly rare, almost mythical, species of musician: conservatory-trained string players comfortable with free improvisation and versed in an international array of styles from South America and Appalachia to West Africa and the Balkans. And oh yeah, they also have to possess considerable vocal skills. Despite a penchant for her violists to running off to study composition in graduate school Sazer has managed to maintain an exceptionally versatile cast, and she brings the latest edition of the RVSQ to Freight & Salvage 8 p.m. Thursday.
For East Bay native Dina Maccabee, it’s the end of hometown ubiquity. Since moving back to California in the mid 1990s after studying at the University of Michigan, the violinist, violist and vocalist has played in an array of bands, from the dizzying world-bluegrass of Japonize Elephants to the lush folk pop of her duo with multi-instrumentalist Jesse Olsen, Ramon and Jessica. But graduate school has coaxed her away and she says farewell to the Bay Area with a series of performances over the next week, including a solo set Thursday, Aug. 8, at the Subterranean Arthouse (on a double bill with accordionist, pianist and saw player Dan Cantrell), and Aug. 15 with Real Vocal String Quartet at the UC Botanical Garden’s Concerts in the Redwood Grove series on a double bill with the jazzy roots band Tin Cup Serenade. (more…)
The four women of the Real Vocal String Quartet know they have something rare and unusual going, but it wasn’t until they answered a last-minute call to collaborate with the Canadian singer/songwriter Leslie Feist that they fully realized the singular nature of the ensemble.
By Andrew Gilbert