The Anderson twins, Peter and Will, described in “The New Yorker” magazine as “saxophone and clarinet virtuosos who delight in burrowing deep into traditional, swing, and mainstream jazz,” are coming from New York to perform Irving Berlin’s music at Phantom Theater in Warren on Friday, August 26.
When asked in a tongue-in-cheek way if the Phantom Barn might seem a modest setting for them, Peter said, “It’s the audience that matters, not the venue.” They have performed on Broadway, at Carnegie Hall, and The Kennedy Center, among many famous venues, and can be seen and heard as saxophonists in the Martin Scorsese film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which will be released later this year.
They started coming up to the Mad River Valley eight years ago to visit their uncle, architect/artist John Anderson and his partner Jill Bobrow of Warren. Right off Bobrow was finding gigs for them at places like the Big Picture Theater in Waitsfield, and the following year they started at Phantom Theater.
This year the twins are returning with Adam Moezinia, guitarist, who is their “human rhythm section.” Moezinia released his first solo album last year, “Adam Moezinia: Folk Element Trio,” that, according to “Jazz Journal,” blends veiled harmonic movement, modern technology, and minimalism with folk and ethnic flavours. In other words, he’s another virtuoso.
The brothers have been playing music together since they were 9. Though their parents were not musicians, they “had great taste in what they listened to,” according to Peter. He continued, “Our mother’s father was a jazz fanatic and had a huge record collection. Our Aunt Barbara is a piano teacher. Our Uncle John is also a big jazz fan – and, of course, an amazing visual artist!” At 18 the twins were accepted into The Juilliard School in Manhattan, where they were awarded a BA in Music, and a Master in Music (2007).
Asked if they thought being twins contributed to their ability to synchronize their playing, Peter replied, “We can read each other’s facial and physical cues very well. We also have very similar tastes in music. We love classic jazz (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, etc.) and the Great American Songbook (George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers -- and, their favorite, Irving Berlin.) They said in an earlier interview that they felt it important to remind people how important the classics are, and how they still have relevance. “With Berlin, for example, it’s so interesting that he came to America and didn’t know English, yet composed “God Bless America” and “Blue Skies,” two songs that defined the American language.”
Over the past two years they have married and started a family. When asked if having babies has changed their lives, the answer was, “Yes, a lot of change -- changing diapers.” Asked who was funnier, the reply came back, “Neither of us ever make jokes, because jazz musicians are very serious people.”
Living 20 minutes apart, they get together often. When not performing, they are composing and teaching (which they find similar to performing -- “there’s a lot of overlap”), and creating a new album. (They have released eight albums.)
Phantom Theater is at the corner of Dump and Airport Roads in Warren. The curtain goes up at 8 on Friday evening. Those who show up early get a choice of seats in the theater that holds 80. Order tickets online at www.phantomtheater.org.