Jazz Fusion Act Headed To Wolftree Collective Tomorrow

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Tomorrow Columbus-based jazz fusion act Playhouse will put on one of their one-of-a-kind performances at Wolftree Collective, 74 E. State St., starting at 7 p.m.

Playhouse was formed over a decade ago, and integral Playhouse member Billy Zehnal described the outfit as more of a “collective” than a “group.”

“Although we have a core of members, there is a sort of revolving group of musicians who take part in the project,” said Zehnal, who is also the bassist for Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons. “I couldn’t even list all of the musicians who I have worked with through this project.”

Zehnal said the group relies heavily on improvised compositions during their live shows.

“When I’m playing live I always feed off the crowd, and I would say that happens even more so during improvised music,” said Zehnal. “When you can see and, more abstractly, feel the reaction of the audience, it’s inspiring to you as a musician to take it farther – to get new ideas. It keeps things interesting. You have to establish a sort of communication with the audience, so that they’re a part of the performance just as much as the performers are.”

Sonically, Zehnal said the audience at tomorrow’s show can expect “improvised music with a cross-pollination of classical Indian and American jazz music with a pinch of electronic.” The sitar, played by internationally recognized musician Hans Utter, is a relatively new element for Playhouse.

“We really wanted to incorporate a sitar, classical Indian music, into our sound because we thought that it would be interesting, fun,” said Zehnal. “We are a very malleable organization, so we were able to just start backing up a sitar player – just as we could meld what we’re doing with anything else.”

Playhouse has already put the finishing touches on an album, with a pending release date in 2017, crafted with Utter’s sitar in the mix.

“Billy is an excellent intuitive player, and the group has an incredible drummer and Moog synthesizer, as well,” said Hans Utter. “And I’ll be playing traditional Indian melodies called ragas – it’s going to be a pretty unique experience, musically. You’d be hard pressed to find a similar configuration.”

Zehnal expressed confidence in Athens’ embrace of Playhouse.

“Athens is a very artistically fertile environment, it’s a great spot,” he said. “I feel strongly that this show will really work out – and that people will be able to relate to what we’re doing. Like I said, the audience is really just as much a part of the performance as the performer.”

Admission to the show is $10 for adults, $7 for students, $3 for children ages six years and older and free for children under the age of six. Event goers are encouraged to bring their own refreshments and seating.