Sudbury & Ramos collaboration is a graceful blend of classical, flamenco, jazz and folk
By Bliss 12/15/2011
Jean Sudbury and Ruben Ramos at Sierra Madre Playhouse, 9/18
The lights dimmed on the Sierra Madre Playhouse stage at dusk Sunday night as Jean
Sudbury and Ruben Ramos took their chairs to play for a mix, young and old, of locals and newcomers alike. Dressed in matching red-top, black-pant outfits, the duo played a captivating one-hour set that featured its unique fusion of French, Brazilian and
distinctly American sounds.
With Sudbury on the violin and mandolin and Ramos playing acoustic guitar, the pair guided
the audience through its catalogue of European and South American influenced folk-pop. Sudbury’s songs evoked visions of Parisian cafés in the 1920s, as she played her 300-year-old violin airily, reading from a piece of sheet music. Meanwhile, Ramos complimented by playing flamenco and bossa nova-tinged tunes on his guitar.
The duo expertly wove these distinct sounds to create music that is entirely their own, and they know it as well. Sudbury and Ramos’ new album is called Connexion Eclectique, a play on the duo’s unmistakable personality.
The artists introduced songs and talked candidly about their personalities, which gave the pieces depth. “This next one is about a cat – kind of a sex kitten,” Sudbury said, before moving into “Darla,” a sinewy, sensuous and decidedly French waltz.
Later, Ramos introduced “Juarez” in dedication of his brother, Claudio and his father. The piece recalls echoes of the American west, and Ramos’ composition adds a Mexican flavor to the song. Sudbury kept her violin subtle yet distinguished, allowing the piece to breath slowly and with ease.
The pair’s songs were elegant but unpretentious, and they took joy in playing for an audience. Ramos often turned away from the sheet music, allowing his eyes to dim as a smile lit up his features. Sudbury, meanwhile took audience applause with genuine graciousness. They are seasoned professionals in their own rights – Sudbury has played at Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl – but this partnership is relatively new. They started playing together three years ago.
“We played our first concert last year and that is when we decided that we were a real
band,” Ramos said, laughing during the intermission.
The duo closed its set with a short, yet-unnamed song written only days ago. In the vein of Sudbury’s French taste, the song was short and sweet, the pair’s way of saying thank you and good night, before standing up to hoots and applause from a charmed audience that looked forward to future endeavors for Sudbury, Ramos and their Eclectic Connection.