After yesterday's Romeo and Juliet matinee, I went for an early nightcap at Joe's Pub, the excellent performance space attached to the Public Theater on Lafayette Street. They do three sets a night at Joe's, mixing everything from rock, to jazz, to hip hop, to cabaret.
The room was packed last night for the early set, featuring new-classical bands Brooklyn Rider and Ljova and the Vjola Contraband. Both incorporate elements of gypsy, jazz and classical in their playing, and both have ties to Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. And, whipped the crowd up into a frenzy, much more Romanian wedding than swanky cocktail lounge.
Ljova, whose expressive playing reminds me of Itzhak Perlman's, is making a name for himself as a composer and arranger, having most recently worked with Osvaldo Golijov on the score for the new Francis Ford Coppola film "Youth Without Youth". He was joined by bassist Mike Savino, percussionist Mathias Kunzli, and wizard accordionist Patrick Farrell, all of whom composed works on the program.
For the second half, Ljova brought out his wife, vocalist Inna Barmash, who is quite obviously something of a muse to him. "I was so mesmerized by her singing, I knew I had to marry her," he told us. She sang one ballad in English, and then a rollicking folk tune in Russian that sent the room into hysterics.
Ljova will be spending the next few months while they finish recording their debut album, but have shows planned at Barbes on March 8, and the 92nd St. Y on April 13. Brooklyn Rider will be appearing at the Brooklyn Lyceum on January 14, in a program of Armenian and Persian music called "Living Memory." Tickets available at the door.