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The Donnell Library "on a Sunday Afternoon" Series Presents the ZigZag Quartet
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The Donnell Library "on a Sunday Afternoon" Series Presents the ZigZag Quartet

- Jazz and Cabaret Corner

Joseph Patelson Music House

160 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

Donnell @ LPA on a Sunday Afternoon
(Donnell Library Event Website)

ZigZag Quartet
(ZigZag Quartet Website)
Francisco Roldán, Guitar
Alexander Wu, Piano
Hilliard Greene, Bass
Danny Mallon, Percussion

At the New York Library of the Performing Arts
Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center
Bruno Walter Auditorium
111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 16, 2008


R. Gnattali, Brazil: “Samba Cancao”, “Baiao”

L. Boccherini, Italy: “Introduction” and “Fandango”

A. Lauro, Venezuela: “Pasaje Aragüeño”, “Virgilio-Bambuco Tachirens”
“Seis por derecho”

A. Piazzolla, Argentina: “Kicho”, “Interlude”, “Milonga del Angel”

B. Yarmolinsky, USA: “New York Minutes” (2007)

D. Mallon, USA: “Samarkand”

C. Bolling, France: “Concerto for Classical Guitar and Piano Jazz Trio”
“Hispanic Dance (with a blue touch)”

I was fortunate to be introduced to this Quartet of virtuosic musicians, each with a unique style and professional background, and all of whom come together to blend their instrumental melodies and rhythms for music that spans three centuries, from Baroque to Latin, to Jazz, to World Music, to Premieres. The two Gnattali Brazilian works were sultry and scintillating, including, in the first, sophisticated guitar enhancements. The second, a true Samba, was taken over with a tight piano-guitar conversation. The Quartet showed mastery of this South of the Border genre. The Boccherini was transcribed by Julian Bream, a renowned classical guitarist, and included Danny Mallon on castanets. The bass sat out this piece, and Alexander Wu’s piano arrangements were a cross of Bach and Flamenco. Francisco Roldán took the melodic lead, with castanets and piano as engaging accompaniment.

It should be mentioned that Danny Mallon, percussionist, wore instruments tied to his feet (and used pedals for extra percussive options, as his hands were occupied with the larger percussive instruments). Danny wrote to me that “I was playing Joropo maracas, Castanets, Arabic tambourine, North African Tar, Bodhran, jazz brushes, shakers and wood block, cowbell and shaker with my feet”. The first Venezuelan Lauro piece had Mallon hopping in dance rhythm with his castanets in full force. Roldán added a contagious rhythm, as the three Lauro works were solely for guitar and percussion. Again, the second Lauro piece required all that Mallon had strapped to his feet, cowbell as well. The third Lauro piece began with the castanets, while one foot worked the wood block and shaker. Roldán’s guitar kept the music driven.

Piazzolla’s works have been often reviewed in this magazine, as his Nuevo Tangos are searing and magnetic. Hilliard Greene and Alexander Wu took “Kicho” to a furious edge. Greene used his bow with melancholy restraint. Wu and Greene brought out the stark soulfulness of Piazzolla’s genre. Two Piazzolla works were combined, as they often are in Tango concerts, but the remaining g two works introduced Mallon’s frame drum. The music was introspective and full of surprises, not a danceable arrangement. An elongated Tango ensued, with Wu’s lengthy piano solo in the mood and moment. After intermission, a recent work by Yarmolinsky (who was in the audience) had just been re-arranged for the full Quartet. Mallon used his feet for steady rhythms, while Greene took created a slow background effect. However, this work was originally a guitar-piano duo, and those two instruments carried the theme.

Danny Mallon’s own composition, “Samarkand” was a solo for his frame drum. Mallon wrote to me, “My solo “Samarkand” was on Tar, a north African drum that comes from a family of frame drums that developed around 3500 BC. The overtone singing was a style of throat singing that developed in central Asia. I sing a drone and the notes of the overtone series simultaneously”. Mallon’s throaty drone was ethereal and unique. He told the audience that the red circle on his drum was the “circle of life”, and his chants were accompanied by his Tar frame drum. It should also be mentioned that the musicians generously spoke to their audience throughout the program.

Claude Bolling’s four movement Concerto included the full Quartet. Each movement showcased a separate instrument. The first movement seemed to showcase the percussion, with a buoyant beat, while the second showcased the piano, in strikingly dramatic and rapid refrains, allowing for deliberate pauses. The Quartet joined in seamlessly here, with Mallon using brushes on his frame drum. The third movement, infused with an Afro-Caribbean dance rhythm, showcased Roldán’s dynamic guitar. The Finale featured Greene’s echoing bass solos that synthesized the melody’s message. Kudos to ZigZag Quartet. You can check out their upcoming events on their website. You can also check out upcoming Donnell Library free events on the Donnell Library Website.

Alexander Wu and Danny Mallon
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Hilliard Greene on Bass
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

ZigZag Quartet
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Hilliard Greene, Francisco Roldán, Danny Mallon
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Alexander Wu and Hilliard Greene
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Francisco Roldán and Danny Mallon
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Hilliard Greene, Francisco Roldán, Danny Mallon
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

ZigZag Quartet
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

ZigZag Quartet with Composer, B. Yarmolinsky
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at