Jherek Bischoff made a statement Saturday night with a spectacular evening of music at the Moore Theatre. This Seattle local built his 2012 record, Composed, over several years, recording an orchestra one person (and one living room) at a time until his masterpiece was complete. Now, on this evening, we got to see Bischoff’s music take full flight, with a stage full of performers and a couple dozen like-minded individuals who all were deliriously excited to show off his work. Bischoff has put in the time, and this excellent show gave him a due chance to celebrate his own achievements.
The evening held a delightful pattern. Jherek primarily plays the part of composer on his record - the instrumentalists and vocalists rotate. Thus, every few songs, Bischoff would invite up another guest vocalist, who would take the night in their own special direction. Up first was Mirah Zeitlyn, followed by Nika Roza Danilova (a.k.a. Zola Jesus) and Tomo Nakayama of Grand Hallway. Later, Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls and French singer SoKo joined him, and finally, the evening closed with two numbers featuring Jason Webley, pulled out of a year’s retirement for this special event. With each guest, Bischoff would spearhead a tune of his own followed by a tune of by his guest that he had rearranged for an orchestral setting. The new versions of Grand Hallway tune “Fourths” and the Zola Jesus song “Lick the Palm of the Burning Hand” were easily highlights of the night. For each, it was a delight to see both Bischoff and his guest artist enjoy the fruits of their own labor and the interpretations of others. It was the first time for many on stage, including for Bischoff himself, to hear the arrangements in a fully orchestrated setting.
Bischoff rotated instruments on almost every tune. Ukulele, guitar, or otherwise, he totally owned each instrument and played with the professionalism and humility of any other member of the orchestra, even humorously with the euphonium, which he learned to play just the day before. His performance wasn’t a self-promoting tool in the slightest. The album was his chance at self-promotion. Here, in the live setting, the audience could tell that Bischoff was just part of the system, playing along to these beautiful songs of his, adding to the noise and creating harmony along with the rest of them. He drew much attention to his orchestra, asking all that helped him record Composed (only about 4 of the 20-plus member group) to stand and receive applause. Bischoff was humble and appreciative, taking a selfish moment only to require the entire orchestra to wait as he tuned his ukulele -- the only time you’ll ever here that, he said. In all, he realized that his rise to this moment of success was not a singular achievement. That being the case, he gave credit where credit was due, even taking a run around the stage to high five every person on it, which included his own brother and father on percussion, violin virtuoso and performance artist Paris Hurley, and cellist Lori Goldston, who also appeared on Nirvana Unplugged. But as the audience saw (and more importantly, heard), Bischoff deserved more than a little credit for the evening’s festivities. His own virtuosity was a delight for everyone present to enjoy.
Check out more pictures of Jherek Bischoff and guests below! And listen to his record Composed (and the instrumentals alone, called Scores), out now.