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Quiet in the Head, an eclectic trio that performs in the Berkshire region and in New York. From left, Jonah Thomas, cello, Jonathan Talbott, violin, and Seamus Maynard, guitar.

Band profile: Quiet in the Head

By Sunday, Nov 16, 2014 Arts & Entertainment

Music is rarely described as “brave,” but Quiet in the Head is that. They’re one of those rare trios that doesn’t care about what you think; they defy categorization. The best a baffled listener can do is mutter something about “neoclassical unplugged fusion” – accurate, some of the time.

Smooth, melodic violin and cello playing gloss over harp-like guitar parts, the music transforming into extended violin solos that recall Jean-Luc du Ponty. The group is too classically trained to make any truly raunchy sounds, but they border on flamenco, Reinhardt-esque jazz, and general, lurching weirdness (in songs like “Swamp Donkey Origins”).

From that genre, here is the band’s video of “Revenge of the Swamp Donkey”:

The group is Seamus Maynard on guitar, Jonathan Talbott on violin, and Jonah Thomas on cello. All three are versed in composition, evidenced by the structure in their music. Most alarming is their unified control of dynamics. Their acoustic instruments are amplified, but slightly; the music never gets loud by today’s standards. It does get whisper-quiet, though, and the subtle dynamic gradations are chilling when combined with shambling, bass-heavy cello and guitar parts. The two instruments sometimes trade off the bass line, giving the music a stereophonic feel.

This is not dance music. Some feet tap here and there, but Quiet in the Head is not out to party; they present a journey, in the classical tradition. The audience keeps quiet, absorbing the details, even during the transformative solos. Dancers in the crowd are stymied by sudden changes: intense grooving rhythms suddenly evaporate into blurred, soaring harmonies. Quiet in the Head could be another gypsy-jazz group; they’re a drum set and a few amps away from a fusion group; they could be playing Irish reels. They’re the life of the party in a different way, though: three skilled musicians, communicating as one, doing whatever they want.

The trio is taking a hiatus to compose new music for another round of shows. They perform in the Berkshires, the Hudson Valley, New York City, and elsewhere, sometimes joined by guest musicians.

Find them online at www.quietinthehead.com.


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