ACOUSTIC ECLECTICISM: Check out the photo on the cover of Jongo, the debut CD by the Hanser-McClellan Guitar Duo. Kirk Hanser and John McClellan Ñ guitars in hand Ñ present a straightforward image that communicates a feeling of confident and skilled craftsmanship. A listen to Jongo, which focuses on the music of South American composers Astor Piazzolla, Alberto Ginastera, Paulo Bellinati, Celso Machado and Radamés Gnattali, confirms that Hanser and McClellan are both excellent musicians. They exhibit a deep understanding of the music and, perhaps more important, have a strong synchronicity that moves this recording past technically precise performance into the realm of inspired interpretation.
But if you have the opportunity to catch the Hanser-McClellan Guitar Duo live, you'll discover that they're making music outside the traditional, straitlaced style associated with classical concerts. "When we perform for an audience, we like to get them involved," McClellan says. "Kirk and I enjoy cutting jokes between songs and smiling instead of being stoic on stage."
"If we had to play music in that stoic approach, I think I'd immediately try to find something else to do," adds Hanser. As you might expect, Hanser and McClellan have an eclectic approach to music, performing the work of artists ranging from jazz guitarist Eddie Lang and county-music legend Chet Atkins to contemporary virtuosos Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges.
"In an ideal world, we'd come out and play a concert that included all those different styles of music, one set after another," McClellan says. "Now, that would be fun."
You can catch the Hanser-McClellan Guitar Duo on Saturday, July 24, at the Barnes & Noble store at 9618 Watson Rd., across from Crestwood Plaza, or hear them in a live KFUO (99.1 FM) broadcast from Plaza Frontenac on Sunday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Send local tapes, tips, discs and detritus to Randall Roberts, The Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Blvd., Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130; or e-mail him at email@example.com.