Time For Three - Live @ NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

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Pigeonholing the classically trained string trio Time for Three isn't easy, but that's also a blessing. The musicians — violinists Zachary De Pue and Nick Kendall with double bassist Ranaan Meyer — say they love a kaleidoscopic spectrum of music. "If we like it, we play it" is their motto. That's why you'll find them riffing on Daft Punk and Kanye West in their popular anti-bullying video or blending Bach and Bon Iver at a Macy's. Their own compositions tend to swing wildly among pop, bluegrass and jazz.

Meyer, De Pue and Kendall don't act like your average classical conservatory grads (they met at the esteemed Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia). They come off as just three high-spirited dudes in a band — a "classically trained garage band," as they like to say. But they certainly don't play like it. Watching them weave together the colorful strands of their music, as they huddle behind Bob Boilen's desk, it's hard not to be swept up in the force of their staggering technique and contagious energy.

What fuels that energy, at least in part, is a strong urge to improvise. "Intuitively, we create a structure and then loosen the vibe up when appropriate," De Pue says.

You can feel it, along with the sheer joy of playing, in the opening tune "Banjo Love," in which two contrary violin solos get support from Meyer's expressively propulsive bass. "Sundays," with its slowly unfolding melodies, is a wistful homage to a weekend hangover. And the onomatopoetic "Don Don" spirals out as a funky, high-octane hoedown wherein violins chase each other while Meyer counterpunches the side of his bass.

These three short tunes are brimming with surprises. When the set ended, I longed for at least one more, just to find out what the band would come up with next. --TOM HUIZENGA

SET LIST "Banjo Love" "Sundays" "Don Don"

CREDITS

Producer: Tom Huizenga
Editor: Parker Miles Blohm
Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait
Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Mito Habe-Evans

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Artist: Time For Three
Video title: Live @ NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
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Category: Live In Concert
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