Photo Credit: Ben Powell/S&R Foundation
Although he said he was used to playing with a band, jazz guitarist Yotam Silberstein seemed quite at home performing solo for a small audience at Georgetown’s Evermay mansion Friday evening.
The show, which marked the opening of the S&R Foundation’s Overtures Holiday Concert Series, featured Silberstein, his guitar and little else. Even his microphone was used sparingly.
“Do I really need this?” he asked the audience at the beginning of his set before pushing it away.
Silberstein played a mix of jazz standards, more modern classics and original compositions. There were even a couple of show tunes: “Fine and Dandy,” from the eponymous 1930s musical, and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” from “Guys and Dolls.” The most memorable piece, however, was a classical-Brazilian fusion that combined a work from Johann Sebastian Bach and a song from the 1959 film “Black Orpheus.” It was breezy and playful, and filled the room with summer even though it was decorated for fall.
Silberstein, 31, was affable, if quiet, throughout the performance. He kept his banter to a minimum between songs and had to be prompted to promote his CDs. His playing was measured and careful, even during long improvisational runs, but it was never staid or restrained. He managed to have fun with his art without getting too out there, a feat that made his set accessible and enjoyable for even the casual jazz fans in attendance.
An Israeli native who moved to New York after receiving a scholarship from the New School, Silberstein often plays at DC Jazz Festival. In fact, the DCJF partnered with the S&R foundation for this show and the next installment of the Overtures Holiday Concert Series, which will feature pianist Cyrus Chestnut.
The S&R Foundation, which supports talented individuals in the arts and sciences, owns the Evermay estate and will host several more Overtures Holiday Concert Series events this fall and winter. The roster includes classical and jazz performances.