Time For Three
The groundbreaking, category-shattering trio Time for Three transcends traditional classification, with elements of classical, country western, gypsy and jazz idioms forming a blend all its own.
Time for Three – violinist Zachary (Zach) De Pue, violinist Nicolas (Nick) Kendall and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer – is a group that defies any traditional genre classification, happily and infectiously. With an uncommon mix of virtuosity and showmanship, the American trio performs music from Bach to Brahms and beyond, giving world-premieres by Pulitzer Prize-winners William Bolcom and Jennifer Higdon as well as playing originals and their own arrangements of everything from bluegrass and folk tunes to ingenious mash-ups of hits by the Beatles, Kanye West, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and more. Time for Three, or Tf3 for short, has performed from Carnegie Hall and the famed jazz club Yoshi’s in San Francisco to European festivals, NFL games and the Indy 500. The group’s hit YouTube bullying-prevention video, “Stronger,” has inspired students across the globe, eliciting features on CNN and the Huffington Post. Since 2009, Tf3 has held a hugely successful residency with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, helping to expand the orchestra’s audience with innovative outreach. The next milestone for Tf3 is the June 24, 2014, release of their debut on UMC, Time for Three. The new album, with tracks co-produced by Bon Iver’s Rob Moose and Grammy-winning producer David Lai, showcases not only the trio’s melody-rich string weave but also its uncommon flair for collaboration, with the group teaming with pop singer-songwriter Joshua Radin, jazz saxophone icon Branford Marsalis, Decca cello star Alisa Weilerstein and ukulele ace Jake Shimabukuro, among others.
Since Tf3 were fellow students at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music they have wowed media and fellow artists alike with their charismatic musicianship. National Public Radio said: “In person, the members of Time for Three come off as just three dudes in a band. But with their staggering technique and freewheeling genre-crossing, it’s hard not to be swept up in the force of their contagious energy.” The Wall Street Journal praised the trio’s rare blend of “spontaneity and precision,” while the Indianapolis Examiner raved, “Demonstrating their ability to deeply connect with their audience in a most interactive way, they electrified a full-house crowd.” But perhaps no one has offered a more enthusiastic appraisal than the great Sir Simon Rattle, chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, who said: “Simply put, they’re a knockout! Three benevolent monsters – monsters of ability and technique surely. But also conveyers of an infectious joy that I find both touching and moving. I would recommend them not only for entertainment value, but also for anyone looking to see how all types of American music can develop, when life and passion such as this are breathed into it.”
Time for Three, the trio’s upcoming UMC debut, sees the group explore the interactive possibilities of string instruments, projecting their onstage magnetism into pure aural allure. The album also presents the collaborative essence of the group in the most organic fashion. As Tf3’s Nick Kendall points out, they have a personal connection to each of the guest artists. The trio blends its warm sound with the dulcet voice of Joshua Radin in new arrangements for four of his signature songs: “Everything ‘ll Be All Right,” “What If You,” “Winter” and “Closer.” Kendall says: “We were big fans of Joshua and met him in a New York restaurant – then we began to imagine how our instruments would provide the ideal bed for his voice, so that it’s like an oboe rising out of a string orchestra.” Cellist Alisa Weilerstein was an acquaintance for years, with Kendall and violin partner Zack De Pue having studied with her father, violinist Donald Weilerstein, co-founder of the Cleveland String Quartet. But the trio’s first musical meeting with Alisa was on the album’s arrangement by composer Kenji Bunch of the all-time Rachmaninoff favorite Vocalise – with Alisa singing lead on her cello. “It’s a 21st-century version of the piece we all know and love,” De Pue says, “and we hope to perform it with not only Alisa but with cellists from orchestras all over the world.”
With Branford Marsalis – a member of the first family of New Orleans jazz – the trio performs the “Queen of Voodoo” on the album, with the track a stylistic gumbo of American music in which the composer, Tf3’s Ranaan Meyer, imagined the band busking in the Crescent City. Marsalis has been an avuncular presence for the trio since the three musicians were put together with the saxophonist at a benefit concert, where “he schooled us,” Kendall recalls. Meyer adds: “He represents something serious and real – a great performer who has a real sense of what an audience wants.” The centrepiece of Time for Three is a concert favorite of the trio’s, “Chaconne in Winter.” It’s perhaps the ultimate Tf3 mash-up, with Bach’s totemic “Chaconne” melded with Bon Iver’s “Calgary” in an arrangement by Steve Hackman, a friend and collaborator of the group’s from the Curtis Institute.