Accardo & Friends offer unplugged, raw talent

Classical music crossed paths with the simply beautiful sounds of acoustic guitars when Frank Accardo and his “friends” performed for their annual appearance at the Wray Theatre on the night of Nov. 19 at Rio Hondo College.

Accardo, who has performed alongside artists such as Frank Sinatra,  Liza Minelli, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr, introduced the audience to “Frank and Friends,” a faculty recital that featured classical and original arrangements of music from several different genres throughout time including Fernando Sor (1778-1839) as well as J.S. Bach (1685-175), which is a highly demanding task.

Accardo set the tone by opening up with a mysterious yet melodic performance with a a Sor piece and, “Squares Suspended,” by Andrew York (b1958).

His renditions were highly interpretive; a jazz- like, medley that was being produced by only six strings, it was a sound that was trying to be keep a joyful rhythmic stride, but also featured slightly somber interludes which was a quite complex contrast.

In his own arrangements of, “Lil’ Darlin,” (Neil Hefti) and, “Without a Song,” (Vincent Youmans), Accardo displayed a multi-layered ability to hint at the faintest emotions and provided a strong jazz tone with a blissful spring like juxtaposition, which I found to be a musical analogy to the feel of the fall season in L.A.

Accardo made sure all of his friends had the spotlight during their performance.

Everyone having their own solo performance as well as a couple of collaborations.

David Smith displayed his guitar knowledge with, “Adante Largo,” another Sor piece, and then lulled the audiences with his interesting mixture of spanish and bluegrass guitar in, “Desafinado,” arranged by Brian Hodel.

Juan Sixto showed up to perform alongside Accardo for a rendering of three vintage pieces by Manuael Ponce (1882-1948); they demonstrated their experience with a completely synched, on point performance.

Sixto then went solo, and displayed his technical abilities that are required to perform a musical piece by J.S. Bach on an acoustic guitar, which was one of the standout performances by the night.

Blanca De Los Santos was the standout star performer of the event, the only artist to both perform her own musical pieces as well as venture out of conventional guitars, used her Ronroco (Bass Charango) to perform her completely original song, “Voices of the Andes,” which contained a fast paced personal, yet nostalgic mountain vibe.

She then went back to the acoustic spanish guitar roots with yet another completely song, “Folias,” in which she also serenaded the audience with her intensely classic vocals.

Andrew Serra was another standout artist with his incredibly complex lineup; he proved to be one of the strongest players in the lineup with his powerful renditions which spanned four different artists, and a flawless performance.

Serra was then joined by Sixto and Accardo for a three guitared performace of, “Four Sevillanas,” by Dr. Juan Serrano, the greatly prolific spanish flamenco artist who the group was clearly inspired by.

Classical and original music all on the acoustic “Frank and Friends” was both a serenading display of Rio Hondo’s’ own musical talent, as well as the musical studies and acknowledgements this talented group carries with them.