Jonn Serrie and Gary StroutsosLive at
The Gatherings Concert Series
14 October 2000St. Mary's Hamilton Village
Larry, Jonn, Gary
Larry, Jonn, Gary
Larry, Jonn, Gary
Review: The Gathering with Jonn Serrie and Gary Stroutsos (and a star was with us)
One of the three heavenly objects that can appear to rise from night to night in the west stood plain and proud as the bridge to Philadelphia was crossed. Call her Venus. At St Mary's, peering above her splendid spires, we sketched out the summer triangle. Alberio, representing part of the northern cross, or the nose of Cygnus the swan, upon magnification reveals not one, but a pair, a splendid contrast of colors. One has to see to believe.
Jonn Serrie plays with a passion that I've never witnessed before. Part of the amazement of attending the Gathering series, as well as experiencing aurally the various paths taken, is to observe the way each artist portrays himself; each presenting a reflection of himself and his music. Roger Eno flowed. Saul Stokes presented a level of facial intensity that might scare one if he didn't know what a wonderful guy he really is. Jonn Serrie, during tonight's Gathering performance, played every note with utmost sentiment. This posture emerged in Serrie's face, with each of his body movements, and ultimately with the lovely music that filled St Mary's.
Appearing with Serrie tonight were flutest Gary Stroutso and percussionist Larry Mahlis. When the trio were on stage together, suppressed sounds of tranquility became the rule. Serrie's lush synthesizers took an even stand with the windlike motions of Mahlis' percussion; as deep sounds and rhythms resonated from his claypots, tablas and framedrum. Stroutso's assortment of flute also played an even keel, never dominating, drifting in and out of the constant flow. The highlight of tonight was what Serrie called "an unyet titled piece", maybe even improvised, when the trio hit an extended mellow grove and the properly subdues light effects swayed along. When Serrie played alone (he opened and closed each set such), the washing effect of his solo releases protuded. I almost felt like I was floating on a somewhat disturbed sea, yet splendidly so, as the lights behind the stage, greens and blue, were appropriately acquatic.
The spell was broken as the night came to a close. The crowd rose and applauded. Fingers were pointed. Serrie pointed at Stroutso and Mahlis. "They da men!" Stroutso and Mahlis pointed back at Serrie. "You da man!" Chuck van Zyl walk towards the stage. All three artists pointed, "Chuck da man!"
Then all four pointed at the Gathering audience.
Orion was slipping over the eastern sky as I drove home. Just another nice nice night.
Review: The Gathering with Jonn Serrie and Gary Stroutsos
I unfortunately couldn't make the last couple of Gatherings, so it was with great anticipation that we drove down from Harrisburg to be back at St. Mary's Church on the U. Penn campus in west Philadelphia.
As usual, it was great to talk to folks from Virginia, New Jersey, center city Philly, etc. before the show and during the intermission regarding previous Gatherings, various space music topics such as live performance vs. recordings, different genres, etc. Not just your average music fans!
The show started later than usual, and Jonn Serrie came out to lots of applause. He started off with a couple of solo pieces before bringing out Gary Stroutsos on flutes and Larry Mahlis on percussion.
As Soma already has mentioned in his review, Jonn puts everything he can into his performances! The emotion he was feeling was palpable and seemed to draw me even further into the zone that the Gatherings usually take me. He certainly was not just a technician pushing buttons. He was feeling the music in every sense as he played, and it showed.
Incredibly, this was the first time that these three had actually physically played together in the same room. The latest album, Hidden World, was done through an long-distance exchange of tapes. It was a bold and exciting move to play together live for the first time at a public performance, and certainly paid off. The interaction was fascinating, with Jonn sometimes cueing various parts, and playing off of the others at times. It was impressive how well they listened to each other as they played, reacting to what was happening at any given point.
After the first number together, smiles were going all around on stage. Even Jonn had to admit it was working out really great, and they would have to do this again!
I really enjoyed watching Larry on percussion, as he was all over a number of different instruments that added appropriately to the pieces. He is a master of the frame drum, clay pot (love that clay pot!), bell trees, and some other percussion items I can't recall ever seeing before. It was a real treat to see him in action.
This was a little different than some of the Gatherings, as the pieces were relatively short, and Jonn would speak for a bit before each number, talking about how they started collaborating, ideas for some songs, etc. He seemed quite at ease and commented repeatedly about how he really appreciated the energy the audience was giving him. Jonn did another a number or two by himself before the intermission.
During the break, the fellow next to us commented about how he was amazed at how well Serrie recreated live his signature melodic solo soundscapes, with the clarity he remembered from the CD's. He was a huge fan!
The second set, was where it really began to take off for me. After a rather short solo piece, Gary and Larry came back out for some truly transporting, spacey numbers, including one that Jonn said was improvised, and one that didn't even have a name yet.
This was where I got the chill down the back of my neck that I sometimes get when things go deep into The Zone. Gary switched from some of the smallest flutes I've ever seen to lower-pitched flutes, creating sonorous tones that washed through the church. Jonn was right there with him, adding some very subtle tones at times. The fog generated was floating over the stage, with deep colors coming through it that complimented very well was happening sonically.
My wife had her eyes closed, and at times I couldn't help but do the same, drinking it all in. Floating away.....
After a final solo number, we gave a standing ovation, and enough thunderous applause to convince the three to come back for a impromptu encore: a great reprise of Hidden World.
It ended all too soon, with thanks all around from both the musicians, the audience, and Chuck, too.
A great, intimate space music concert once again! Very transporting.
Forgive me for rambling on here, but these Gatherings are really unique and are doing the space music genre a real service. Each one has a unique feel to them, and there's nothing like actually being at a live performance; there's a certain energy, at times tension and release, with the artists and audience together creating a memorable event.
I can't wait for Vidna Obmana next month; I already got my tickets through TicketWeb....see you there!
by Joe Olnick
Review: The Gathering with Jonn Serrie and Gary Stroutsos
This was a real nice show, and I would like to thank the Gathering for making these performances happen. It's a true joy to be able to see these artists and meet them after having made their music a part of my personal life through the years, such as John Serrie. There were some truly beautiful moments during this concert as were described quite well in Joe's review (above). The multi-colored projections against the altar at times fit the mood of the music so well that I almost floated right out of the place. Very tastefully done.
I'm also extremely psyched for Vidna Obmana on November 4th, and I was also thrilled to hear of the Kit Watkins show in the spring. He's another big fave of mine. Keep em' coming !
by Rob E   As Posted to The Spacelist: Tue, 17 October 2000
Review: The Gathering with Jonn Serrie and Gary Stroutsos (Memories of an Enchanted Evening)
Gathering 28 serendipitously fell on the eve of my birthday. The only gift I wanted was to be enthralled by an evening of superlative entertainment. Last Saturday, the night was deliciously warm for mid-October. The sky was littered with stars that glittered above the breathtaking Saint Mary's church. God had certainly set the stage for a wondrous night.
Jonn Serrie was the penultimate showman. Resplendent in a shimmering white satin shirt, he proved to be endearing, gracious and charming as he chatted up the audience between musical interludes. One would be hard pressed to find a more emotive synth player. Throughout the performance, Jonn's animated and soulful onstage persona radiated throughout the sanctuary.
He started off the night with a lovely little aural seascape, with just the right amount of brackish pensive tension to set if off. He then introduced flute player Gary Stroutsos and Percussionist Larry Mahlis. Gary (no slouch in the style department with his red velvet vest embossed with silver stars) used a succession of whimsically embellished wind instruments to concoct a sound that was exotic, sensual and reverent, all at the same time. Of particular fascination to me was witnessing how Larry seamlessly incorporated the vast array of percussion implements into the mix. Seeing this live allows a real appreciation of the gentle yet profound contribution a sensitive percussion virtuoso like Mahlis adds to the overall sound of an ambient piece. His interplay with the other two musicians was a joy to witness, as he deftly enhanced, yet never overwhelmed the music.
I'd concur with previous posts that the trio really hit its collaborative stride during the second set. A kind of improvisational nirvana was reached with the aforementioned "untitled
piece." I experienced this phenomenon laying on my back in the church pew. The gorgeous music is irrevocably intermingled in my mind with the vision of smoke and subtle lighting intertwined with the elegant high Gothic architecture of the church ceiling. An intoxicating moment, to be sure.
Jonn then announced that he would be playing music gleaned from his "Christmas album." OK, to be honest, when a friend mentioned that he had embarked on such an endeavor, I was a bit skeptical. But, oh my, hearing him play.... This was absolutely enchanting. He intuitively managed to capture the spirit and essence of the season in an exalted and captivating style. This is exactly the kind of music *I* would love as the background to my holiday festivities. Just charming!
As with any boffo performance, a standing "O" brought the trio back one last time. The closing piece, along with the incumbent camaraderie felt by the musicians and the Gathering attendees ...sublime.
To Jonn, Gary, Larry, Chuck Van Zyl, Jeff Towne, and the rest of the volunteers who helped pull off a glorious night...
Thank you for a lovely birthday gift.
by Cindy Lyn
For more about Jonn Serrie, please access the:|
All Photos By Bill Forcier