Vince Gill with Boston Pops after Tanglewood thunderstorms
July 7, 2013 performance; by Dave Read
Opening weekend of the BSO’s 2013 Tanglewood schedule called for a performance by the Boston Pops with special guest Vince Gill; an ill-timed thunderstorm blew the planned program out the window. Instead of a 2:30 start for the Pops’ set of seven selections and a second set with Gill and his band after a 25 minute intermission, what transpired was a single 85 minute concert.
Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockart led the Pops through a truncated set designed to celebrate the American West. Besides two selections from Rodeo, by the familiar and decidedly unWestern Aaron Copland, the highlight of the set was Carmen Goes Country, a recent gift to the Boston Pops from its former principal arranger and Harmonica Rascal Richard Hayman.
Vince Gill mines the jazz vein
Vince Gill’s setlist included Whenever You Come Around, his paean to wife Amy Grant, and concluded with his lament for his brother, Go Rest High on That Mountain. His compositions were well adapted to the Pops’ accompaniment; often the result was a rich burnishing. The one exception was his new “legitimate jazz song” Faint of Heart, which got the endorsement of jazz diva Diana Krall, who sings it with him on his new album The Time Jumpers.
Placing a song from any musical genre within a symphonic setting is a risk almost always worth taking, at least for the sake of artistic curiosity. But when an artist is already stepping out from the comfort of his genre to experiment in another, taking the further step of giving it a symphonic wrap dulls the point of writing a jazz song in the first place. We look forward to hearing it late some night in a dingy roadhouse joint, which is the milieu it seemed to suggest, beneath the too-lush embellishment of the orchestra.
Gill is a friendly and funny guy who recalled his previous Tanglewood performance along with Amy Grant, when they were guests on a James Taylor program. Mentioning Taylor’s presence for this concert, he said that singing Sweet Baby James with him was a dream come true.