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Zuill Bailey Live

17 MAY 11 JASON SERINUS

It's one thing to listen to Zuill Bailey, optimally recorded by Telarc, on a high-end sound system; it's another thing entirely to hear him live. The opportunity finally arose on May 1, when Bailey traveled to the San Francisco Bay Area to perform Dvorak's Cello Concerto with the Marin Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Alasdair Neale.

Before the performance, Bailey told Greg Cahill of the Independent Journal, "The Dvorak is the torch, the greatest thing we have for cello and orchestra. It really gives everyone [in the orchestra] a moment to shine... There's so much inspiration and so many different avenues one can go as a player that you really go with the moment and let that vibe lead you."

Bailey was true to his word, his playing distinguished by its hushed inwardness and wide range of emotion. Backed by a band that was challenged to play softly, and failed to embrace either the subtler aspects of Dvorak's writing or its grand sweep, he resisted all temptation to plow through the work. Nor was he daunted by an acoustic that, even from a reasonable distance, drained color from his priceless instrument.

If the evening ultimately served to reinforce the blessings of Bailey's well-recorded Telarc catalog, it also enabled me to discover just how warm a human being he is when greeting his public post performance. It also sent me back to his latest CD with Awadagin Pratt, Brahms Works For Cello And Piano, to again revel in the gorgeous sound of his cello making poetry of Brahms.

As of this posting, he has one more date scheduled in Spain. But keep checking back for other opportunities to see him.