Three nights

By JON GARELICK  |  July 17, 2007

Geni’s Japanese Shakuhachi Funk Sextet aren’t as wild and crazy as their name would imply, but they’re good. The genres are mixed, all right, but in discrete portions: jazz standards like “Green Dolphin Street” and Roland Kirk’s “Serenade to a Cuckoo,” Brazilian standards like Jobim’s “Corcovado” (“Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars,” sung by Ryles’s World Music Wednesdays impresario Anita Coelho), contemporary pop like Sting’s “Fragile,” original folk pop (“Song for Alice”) and jazz funk. Geni played several pieces on a standard C-concert flute, and his band (guitarist Slavov Tolstoy, keyboardist Peter — son of classical clarinettist Richard — Stolzman, bassist Jan Perchuk, and drummer Mark Walter) were a versatile, expert crew.

But the highlights featured Geni’s playing on the shakuhachi, the long, “end-blown” bamboo flute. The set opener, the Japanese folk tune known as “Wooden Ship,” brought out the haunting melancholy of the instrument, with its split tones and sliding figures played over a long-lined melody. Geni was also able to exploit the emotional quality of the instrument in “Corcovado” and on the Jewish folk ballad “Erev Shel Shoshanim,” where Eastern Europe met Celtic pipes. The next stop in his musical education is a scholarship to New England Conservatory’s Third Stream department. It will be fun to hear what he discovers in that hotbed of cross-genre musical research and experimentation.

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