A Night At the Symphony

9.12.09 (C.Batka)

9.12.09 - Carnegie Hall (C.Batka)

It all began back in college.  With intricate, multi-part compositions- arguably better suited for an orchestra than a rock band- Trey began his songwriting days.  Scribing pieces so far-reaching in musical scope, it was mind-numbing how a four-piece outfit could conquer his songs with such proficiency.  And throughout the years, when the band really nailed them, they sounded like- well- a symphony.  “You Enjoy Myself,” “Fluffhead,” “Divided Sky,” The Curtain (With),” “David Bowie,” “Harry Hood,” “Reba”- these weren’t your everyday “rock” songs.  But with Phish as his musical outlet, that’s what they became, some of the most unique rock songs in history, or- in other words- Phish songs.  But there was a vision of something greater that drove these compositions, something unattainable at the time.

TreyYouthDecades later in 2000, during Phish’s first break, Trey turned his energy to his lifelong goal.  Taking a similarly scribed song, “Guyute,” he spent four months with the conductor of the Vermont Youth Orchestra creating an orchestral arrangement of his composition.  And with two benefit performances at the Music Hall in Troy, NY and Burlington’s Flynn Theatre- a show that included his mentor, Ernie Stires- Trey’s new career was underway.  During the hiatus, he also worked with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra- conducting them, at Bonnaroo 2004, through pieces from his first classical album,”Seis De Mayo.”

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Nashville Program

And on Saturday night at Carnegie Hall, after years of diligence and many baby-steps along the way, Trey’s dream was finally fulfilled.  Playing a full two-set show of his own material with the world-class New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Trey took center stage in one of the music’s most legendary venues, realizing his vision hatched so long ago.  Decked in black, he was the man of the hour, not only showcasing “Time Turns Elastic” in its proper setting, but also highlighting the night with a ridiculously creative arrangement of “You Enjoy Myself.”  On a stage filled with some of the world’s best musicians, Trey’s seminal piece took on a completely new life.  It was the first time that we all got to hear what Trey has been hearing in his head for years.  And it is some of the most surreal music you will ever hear.

9.12.09 - Carnegie Hall (P.Mason)

9.12.09 - Carnegie Hall (P.Mason)

While I couldn’t be at the show last night- all reports and reviews I got from New York City were glowing, and after listening to the show, I certainly understand why.  To hear Phish music in this milieu is absolutely breathtaking; the complexities and emotions are magnified, and the music sounds surprisingly at home.  Blending his guitar with a far greater whole, Trey’s integration with the symphonic tapestry is brilliant.  Arranging all pieces with Nashville’s Don Hart, with whom he collaborated with on “Time Turn Elastic,” the nuances and intricacies of each piece were astounding; Trey’s playing, selfless- his tone, gorgeous.  Making the first complete performance of the next chapter of his career, Trey announced his arrival on one of world’s most prestigious stages.

The way he painted suggestions of his soaring “First Tube” solo against a lush, horn-led backdrop; the enchanting and dreamy, “Brian & Robert;” the soaring power of the strings in “Divided Sky”- was this all a joke?  Trey had gone right ahead and redefined the Phish experience overnight.  And in his recent interview in Timeout: New York, he indicated he would love to see this project grow to where he could tour between Phish activities, playing two nights in a city without repeating any material.  Pretty freakin’ cool if you ask me!  And quite the “side project.”

9.12.09 (LiveMusicBlog)

9.12.09 (LiveMusicBlog)

After playing a series of relatively shorter pieces in the first set, the second set featured but three songs- “Time Turns Elastic,” “Let Me Lie,” and “YEM.”  In its full three-movement incarnation, and set in Carnegie Hall, it was very clear where “Time Turns Elastic” belongs.  In full blossom in Trey’s virtuoso performance, the song was easier to digest after a summer of hearing it as a Phish song,  but after listening to Saturday’s performance, it seems almost silly that it was transposed into a contrived prog-rock “epic.”  Taking on its natural form, as debuted in Nashville and performed in Baltimore, the piece’s innovation and power was evident, and it sounded authentic in its orchestral form.  But the highlight of the night was, without question, the classical debut of “You Enjoy Myself.”

With one of the most renowned symphonies on the planet, Trey played through a rendition of his seminal work that has to be heard to be believed.  The creativity, fun, and sheer genius on display was completely over the top, as the once-imaginary version of the song burst into reality.  Complete with an interpretation of his band’s improv, this “YEM” quickly developed into a career-defining moment for Trey.  With their collaborative ingenuity teeming, he even complemented the orchestra as the piece came to rest in a mesmerizing “vocal jam.”  And as he did, one can’t help but think that college kid from the mid-eighties, somewhere inside the mature maestro onstage, was beaming with a goofy, radiant smile.

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Winged music noteJams of the Day: Carnegie Hall

You Enjoy Myself

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Simply amazing. I am re-posting it for the Monday morning crowd.

Time Turns Elastic

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In this setting, this composition is stunning.

First Tube

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An unexpected way to start a night at the symphony!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

9.14.1990 The Living Room, Providence, RI < Torrent

9.14.1990 The Living Room, Providence, RI < Megaupload

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Feb 1990 Poster

We are taking it back nineteen years to the day, to a small club in Providence, RI for today’s download.  Those from the Northeast are most likely familiar with the intimate Living Room, a club that is still active today.  An old-school nugget to start the week that features the debut of “Destiny Unbound.”  Enjoy!

I: Suzy Greenberg, Bouncing Around the Room, The Landlady, Reba, Paul and Silas, Stash, Dinner and a Movie, I Didn’t Know

II: The Asse Festival, The Squirming Coil, Buried Alive > Tweezer, Magilla, Cavern, Lizards, Destiny Unbound*, Fire

E: Going Down Slow

*first time played

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202 Responses to “A Night At the Symphony”

  1. BigNasty Says:

    Phish and Zappa – big parallels, no doubt. I saw Zappa Plays Zappa last month in Milwaukee. Dweezil is on fire. Great stuff, they played “Inca Roads”…classic parallels to Phish in its other-worldly, layered lyrics and structure. “Po-Jama People” reminds me of “Reba” in its structure and absurdity.

    Speaking of festivals – just watched the full chalkdust from IT on DVD last night. Hair raising jam! Trey was obviously pumped after – grinning ear to ear and giving the thumbs up. Good stuff!

  2. Kevin Says:

    Man, I’m listening to this now.

    I never liked Pebbles and Marbles as a Phish songs (those 2.0 lyrics, mostly), but it’s raging here. Awesome.

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