Cellist Bjorn Ranheim and violinist Shawn Weil are colleagues in the St. Louis Symphony. Double bassist Syd Rodway and composer/keyboardist Adam Maness are members of the Erin Bode Group. They got to know each other when Ranheim and Weil collaborated with the Erin Bode Group and also shared an interest in good food and fine beer.
After the musicians heard famed cellist Yo Yo Ma’s album, The Goat Rodeo Sessions, a collaboration with double bassist Edgar Meyer and bluegrass musicians Stuart Duncan and Chris Thile, they decided to explore the possibilities of making music together. The result was an acoustic instrumental ensemble with a unique sound which eventually was named The 442’s.
The name “442’s” was inspired by the frequency of the note a symphony orchestra tunes to, an A at 442 Hertz. Also contributing is Rodway and Bode’s address (the two are married) is 442 and Maness’ address was 442 when he lived in New York.
Maness composes all the pieces in The 442’s repertoire and also plays guitar, accordion, glockenspiel and melodica. “Every time we show up for a rehearsal, Adam comes with at least one or two new tunes that are completely different than the last two he’s written," says Weil. "And they are equally as good and better all the time. And it’s nice because although they are basically finished products when he shows up with them, he still has the flexibility, and we are able to give some input, and it is very much a work in progress."
All four musicians agree that it is beneficial to push themselves “outside the box.” For Ranheim and Weil, it gives them the opportunity to do some improvisation, something that rarely happens with classical music. For Maness who is used to writing for jazz musicians who do improvise, it forces him to pay more attention to development in his compositions. Rodway, who is basically self-taught on double-bass, gets inspiration in technique from the two classically trained string players.
The 442’s do two performances a month, working around their many other commitments. Their next performance is a benefit for Lutheran Senior Services on Sunday, April 21 at 2:00 p.m. at The Village at Mackenzie Place. They’ll also play at Cyrano’s Cafe on May 2 and at the Tavern of Fine Arts on May 20 and June 7. The 442’s website has a complete calendar of performances.
The members of the 442’s were Steve Potter’s guests on “Cityscape.” In addition to talking about their music and how they formed the group, they performed three selections in the St. Louis Public Radio studio, Shibuya, Heston’s and Chelsea.
Lutheran Senior Services Present The 442's
Sunday, April 21, 2013
The Village at Mackenzie Place, 8520 Mackenzie Road