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Monday April 21, 2014
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Jeremy Kittel

 

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Jeremy Kittel. If he didn't come off as so nice, he'd be a little scary.

Kittel played in the Saline Fiddlers Philharmonic and, while still well underage, sat in at local barroom jam sessions. Somewhere along the line — it might have been when he appeared on Garrison Keillor's Ann Arbor Prairie Home Companion show in December 2001 — people began to realize that Kittel's talent might be something of a big deal. On a slow fiddle tune, glistening with ornaments, he's riveting. Now he's a jazz major at the U-M music school, and the different traditions in which he is proficient have started to inform each other in his music.

One sure sign of Kittel's talent is that he's picked a band able to keep up with him; he can listen as well as play. Another is the way his musical personality remains sharply recognizable across genres. Whether he's playing the Irish and Scottish tunes (many of his own composition) that make up the core of his repertory, or improvising on jazz violin, or thinking out a mind-bending fusion of "Sing Sing Sing" with the bluegrass tune called "Blackberry Blossom," or even performing a fiddle-rooted classical composition, Kittel is very much himself, a quiet midwestern teenager who has a steely, elemental kind of concentration when the music starts.

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