How does one classically trained guitarist accompanied by one classically trained violinist create an exciting, dynamic sound combining several music genres into a rich, harmonious rhythm? The New Boston Duo will share their musical secrets with genres that include “gypsy swing” and much more at the First Church Boston Auditorium on Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m. Opening for the New Boston Duo is the Wicked Pickers, an eclectic, acoustic group hailing from Boston. Click here to learn more about the New Boston Duo!
I had the honor of speaking with New Boston Duo guitarist George Little about how the group came together and how they established their gypsy swing!
You and Elizabeth Burke starting performing together in 2008. Please tell me a bit about your background and how you formed the New Boston Duo.
Elizabeth started with the violin when she was around age 7. It was mostly classical up until she started grad school when she started discovering other music and explored them a little bit more deeply.
Elizabeth and I met at grad school and we collaborated on a concert she was giving where we performed a piece by an arts team composer Piazzola’s ‘History of the Tango.’ It borders along the lines of a modern classical piece and maybe a Latin-American piece. It has a lot of song rhythms in it. Every movement is a different kind of tango basically. We really liked it and we had great chemistry. We started to explore being a duo. She liked exploring music outside of classical and was still very much classical, classical, classical. We were finding that doing the classical stuff was not really working for us.
What Elizabeth brings to the table that I get to learn more about is bluegrass and Celtic music. I don’t really play a lot of that and when guitarists do, they tend to have a kind of boring job if you ask me. The fiddle players have a lot more fun when they play Celtic music. When we collaborate, I get to see a little more of how she is executing what she is doing and then I create sort of some of the violin’s work. I try to put it onto my instrument and the same thing happens for her. When we perform Latin American and flamenco music, it is very guitar-centered to work with those rhythms. She tries to create arrangements that the violin can play.
Each rehearsal was trying out Latin American music, modern classical, renaissance music, and it did not gel until we hit upon the gypsy swing. When we started playing gypsy swing, I found out that I could play a little better than I realized and it was a lot of fun.
So as far as the concert on Friday, March 22, what do you think audiences can look forward to? Do you have particular numbers that you have planned that you are excited to share with audiences?
Absolutely! By having a classical background, we have versatility for performances I am really proud of. We can go to a farmer’s market and we can play upbeat fun jazz and it totally fits. We can go into a jazz club and play for a listening audience with a more sophisticated arrangement of pieces that is more jazz centric. When we do a concert like what we are doing on March 22, we have created a concert program structure where we start with arrangements that we have created from classical music and from Latin American tunes and we put a spin on it. We improvise in a more controlled fashion. As the program progresses, it becomes more jazz centric and gypsy swing centric and we try to transition to doing gypsy folk songs like ‘Dark Eyes’ which is a Russian folk song. We’re going to do an arrangement by Duo Lobos and Mire Swing which are gypsy jazz standards. We will play our version of a Zumba which is a flamenco dance form.
The New Boston Duo will be recording a CD this summer and hope to have a debut at the end of this year! The New Boston Duo, along with opening act ‘Wicked Pickers’ will perform at First Church Boston Auditorium, 66 Marlborough Street in Boston, Massachusetts on Friday, March 22 at 8 p.m. Explore the many acoustic rhythms of the New Boston Duo and Wicked Pickers! Visit www.newbostonduo.com and visit the New Boston Duo on Facebook for more on their music!