This is a wonderful review. Please note that Yanni's last name is misspelled. -------------------------------------------- Yanni gives personal show
Jim Braden Special to the Times
Linda Stelter / El Paso Times
Yanni performed Sunday for a crowd of about 6,000 at the Don Haskins Center.
The Greek composer Yanni Chryssamalis brought his whole multinational orchestra to the University of Texas at El Paso's Don Haskins Center Sunday and had the whole arena standing and applauding the collective musicianship and his relaxed, unpretentious manner.
Dressed in black leather pants and a black, long-sleeved T-shirt, the iconic composer performed favorite songs from both his early work and newest album, "Ethnicity."
The sound system was the best heard in the multipurpose building in years -- full bass, microphones on all the lead players, plus some unusual instruments that lent an even more exotic sound to Yanni's proud and sometimes sensitive melodies. Three video screens showed live video from the stage, giving a closeup view of the keyboardist's fingerwork -- and the musicians' fascinating facial expressions.
The crowd, estimated at 6,000, went wild with violinist Karen Briggs, whose solos blended classical, Middle Eastern and Oriental sounds with Yanni's jazz-flavored melodies. She's the heir apparent to Stephane Grappelli.
Mexico native Ramon Flores blew a clear, clean trumpet to lead the brass, while vocalists Michelle Amato and Alfreda Gerald created a studio perfect blend for "For All Seasons" from "Ethnicity." Their voices were silky smooth -- an amazing display of musical coordination.
Yanni was a gracious performer, often sharing the spotlight with lead instrumentalists. Drummer Charlie Adams played a "killer-diller" drum solo reminiscent of Buddy Rich. The crowd rose to its feet when Adams raised a sign that said, "I'm tired" -- and contiunued playing.
If you had never heard a jazz harp, Yanni's Victor Espinola caressed pleasing sounds from his instrument.
Yanni's music inspires, and the performer often stopped between songs to talk about how he wrote the next piece.
Yanni said he's often amazed by the extraordinary talent of his fellow musicians. And then he quipped; "And I get in for free."
His tunes are some of the most exciting being recorded today. While his earlier pieces from "In Celebration of Life" often sound like the riveting sound track from the film "Z," his more recent compositions are reflective and thoughtful.
The ensemble worked extremely well together, often challenging each other's solos. Pedro Eustache played a 300-year old Chinese flute during the performance of "Nightengale," written especially for Yanni's China tour.
If the idea of a live concert is to leave the crowd wanting more, Yanni and his orchestra more than succeeded and left El Pasoans with a yearning for more.
Thanks so much, YMusicMuse. What a fantastic review. Those of us who are fortunate enough to attend one of Yanni's concerts know the vibe that goes through the arena. Jim Braden and Linda Stelter are to be commended for putting it into such glowing terms.