New Classical Tracks: Time for Three
New Classical Tracks: Time for Three
Time for Three — Universal Classics
You know what they say: "Timing is everything." The acoustic trio Time for Three couldn't agree more. Like when they made headlines recently after being denied access to a U.S. Airways flight due to their instruments. That turned out to be a good thing. Double-bassist Ranaan Meyer says they sort of have this Time for Three good fortune, and things just seem to work out. "We're just about to have an album come out and the misfortune of the violins not being allowed on the plane leads us to a bunch of people getting to know about Time for Three who may not have known about us before."
And that new album Raanan mentioned? It's Time for Three's self-titled debut on Universal Classics.
Time for Three are violinist Zach DePue, who also serves as concertmaster of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; double-bassist Ranaan Meyer; and violinist Nick Kendall, who says they first met when they were students at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. "I think the three of us gravitated toward each other at Curtis because we'd have these spontaneous jam sessions after our practices with the orchestra or our individual lessons," Nick says, "and that's how it all started. We just found this common interest … and it wasn't to be a genre-specific band at all."
Over the past five years, Time for Three have collaborated with a menagerie of diverse artists, many of whom appear on this recording, including cellist Alisa Weilerstein, saxophonist Branford Marsalis, and composer/arranger Rob Moos, known for his work with the indie rock band Bon Iver. Zach DePue says this recording bridges all the different types and styles of music that Time for Three are really passionate about. "It's sort of a melting pot, if you will, of a lot of different music that's honed in with T3's sound, which hopefully classical listeners will recognize as that true, beautiful string sound," he says.
"I think the album is an experience unto itself, which I think sometimes is an art form that has been lost," Zach explains. "In today's world, you can just buy the one track. This (recording), if someone can sit down and put it on, definitely has a beginning, middle, end … and hopefully it tells a story."
It's a story that bass player Ranaan says has a little something for everyone, even his classical colleagues who might be the toughest sell. He recently put the album on for his friend, Jeff Turner, principal bassist of the Pittsburgh Symphony. "I was listening to him and watching him," Ranaan says, "and we'd be talking and he'd stop the conversation because he wanted to listen … he'd done three arrangements already on 'Danny Boy' and when I was describing how 'Danny Boy' would be done in a pop-meets-classical way with a lot of space in between the phrases … he looked at me cross-eyed. When he heard it, he said, 'This completely works and I've never heard anything quite like this.' "
"Roundabouts" is the first track on this new disc. Nick Kendall's inspiration when he composed this piece was the band itself, and the way it makes the inner voices or the melodies just sizzle. "I'm not talking about fast bow movement, I'm talking about spinning our sound," he says. "It's something our group has done when we play slow movements or when we were able to put that energy into a long phrase or the silence afterwards. "I wanted to create a very simple eight-bar melody, and then it starts developing as a round, which means you put the melodies one after another and then there would be new harmonies overlapping and played next to each other. And we've had moments on stage when we're playing things … and smiling. Smiling through our music and literally smiling, doing something beautiful. I think that positive energy was the inspiration for 'Roundabouts.'"
Nick says Rob Moos, who's involved with the indie rock scene in New York City, created the arrangement for "Roundabouts." "Rob has been on the trajectory for us for awhile," Nick says. "He was in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra while we were going to Curtis. He's a violinist, classically trained, but his language is the language of music. And for T3, he was excited because he was interested in seeing what he could do in constraint, with just the three of us and kind of … open it up in different ways that hasn't happened for us in the past."
Bassist Raanan Meyer also composed a piece for the group called "Banjo Love." "Well, actually, I walked into my practice room and saw my bass on its side and I imagined, in that particular moment, what would it be like if Bela Fleck could play on the world's biggest banjo, imagining my bass as a banjo," Ranaan recalls. "And T3 are big fans of Bela Fleck. And thinking about what he could do, I picked up my instrument, I did not put it on my knee and I held it the right way … but I began to play it like it was a banjo and the bass line came out. And then I handed it to Steve Hackmann, our producer and arranger at the time, and then he took it and wrote two violin melodies over it. And then we did our usual arranging, where the four of us would get together in our space in Indianapolis and kind of incubate the song and that's how Banjo Love found its way to be what it is now. So it's a really fun piece. And just brings us a lot of joy. It's one of the higher-octane pieces on the album."
Ranaan says giving a composition enough time to breathe is also part of the process, "Sometimes we have to work on a part. And there's this thing Nick invented — taking the keys to the Jeep and going off-roading with the music. If a part wasn't quite right, you'd have to borrow the keys and go figure out how to make the part better. We'd just loop things over and over and over. So if you want to talk the T3 lingo, you've got to know about off-roading on the Jeep."
Being in the right place at the right time. For Time for Three, timing is everything Like that incident at the airport that put them in the spotlight — just in time for them to enjoy this brand-new album.
Video Time for Three are denied boarding an aircraft due to instruments being deemed too large: (Note: There is single use of a rude word at about 0:07). Listen to Julie Amacher's interview with Time for Three about this incident by clicking the first "Bonus Audio" link above.
Video: Stronger, Time for Three's music video with an anti-bullying message. Listen to Julie Amacher's interview with Time for Three about this video by clicking the second "Bonus Audio" link above.