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Simply Three sets Phoenix Icehouse afire with music

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Simply Three was one of two featured instrumental trios at Phoenix's funky and fabulous Icehouse playing last night's Downtown Chamber Series concert. Before the show, the group's petite violinist, New Yorker Alex Weill took time to chat with Examiner about the chemistry igniting this red hot Phoenix-founded trio.

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"The great reception our live performances get is really awesome," Weill said about playing with Simply Three. For a musician who also plays with household names like Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Electric Light Orchestra and Jay Z, her Phoenix trio's ovations hold a warm spot in her heart.

"The crowd gets to grooving and jamming. They feed off of our energy," she commented. The Icehouse crowd, fittingly, cheered when she leapt off the stage during one number, and again when the guys, Zack Clark and Nick Villalobos, spun their cello and bass in a flourish later in the same song.

"We're debuting a little movement and choreography at this concert. It adds some great visual effects and really amps up the show," said Weill.

The three classically trained and ridiculously accomplished musicians have bios that read like they should be well into adulthood, when instead, they're college-kid-young. Though distinguished, worldly terms like Interlochen, Tanglewood, Oberlin, Yale and Vanderbilt spark their resumes, Simply Three arranges and performs primarily pop tunes, which spread across the internet like wildfire. The mastery of skill, depth and breadth in their renditions cause bands they cover, like OneRepublic and Imagine Dragons to promote the trio's genre-hopping videos.

With the infectious energy Weill had cited, last night's audience was participation prone, and especially vocal during a smoldering, precious-metal-forged, original jazz arrangement of 'Summertime' from Porgy and Bess.

The concert was all the more fiery for the very proper classical violin-viola-flute trio who interpreted beautifully pieces by Beethoven and Handel in lovely contrast to Simply Three. Viviana Cumplido, who is also the Phoenix Symphony's Principal Flute, owns her instrument like few flutists ever have. Melting into the fluid phrases of her Classical Trio's Max Reger Serenade was a confection to be savored.

A fanning, hats off goes to Mark Dix and the Downtown Chamber Series. Keep your ears open for their upcoming concerts.

"There's usually a LOT of hard work and rehearsing and personal interaction to struggle through when chamber groups get together and try to find their own unique sound," mused Weill as the conversation wound down. "But working with these two [Clark & Villalobos]....from technique, to style, to personality, it's been just so.....so easy."

They are dynamic personalities. They are innovative performers. They are wildly talented musicians. Weill came so close to saying it herself. They are Simply Three.

-Jennifer Haaland

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