I found myself back at the Ark Sunday night, listening to the five piece band that goes by the name of Kittel & Co. Combining elements of classical, jazz, celtic, and bluegrass music, the group played music spanning from Bach to Charlie Chaplin, adding new arrangements and spin to these pieces. They also played many new compositions which can be found on the band’s album “Whorls.”
The show featured Jeremy Kittel on fiddle, Josh Pinkham on mandolin, Ethan Jodziewicz on bass, Quinn Bachand on guitar and Simon Chrisman on hammer-dulcimer. I had never seen this combination before, let alone seen a hammer-dulcimer in concert, and I was blown away by the skill and communication shared between all of the players.
Kittel & Co. define themselves as a contemporary string band who progressively fuse together elements of folk, classical, Celtic, bluegrass, and jazz. Their first album “Whorls” was released in 2018, and the track “Chrysalis” composed by Kittel, was nominated for a Grammy that year.
Starting off with a set of tunes called the Boxing Reels, the band brought an exciting energy to the stage. The first reel started with the mandolin with the fiddle joining in on the second time around to build up for the much faster second reel. The two tunes flowed effortlessly into each other, carefully building excitement and interest for the audience.
Kittel looked comfortable on the stage of the Ark, having played there many times before. As a U of M grad, his roots tie back to Michigan, and the venue was packed with friends, family and familiar faces. A picture of Kittel hangs on the Ark wall in direct eyeline with the stage which he remarked was the best marketing he could have ever asked for:) He had many stories about their experiences at the Grammys (including a run-in with Cardi B), and really connected with the audience.
As a fiddle player myself, I find Kittel’s tunes catchy and distinct. He is a technical player with lots of control, but sounds free on stage. I am amazed by how he is able to fuse genres and create his own new identity through his compositions. I am excited for what he will compose next and for what’s to come with Kittel & Co.