In theory, Kandinsky Beat Down is a cool experiment, combining jazz and classical music with hip-hop and old-school soul and funk, and adding break dancers to punctuate the musical action.
It’s also the kind of idea that could go awry in the wrong hands, creating a rhythmic and sonic mess.
But the smart, disciplined musicians and dancers on stage Saturday night at Jefferson Center’s Shaftman Performance Hall made it fun and visually appealing.
Kandinsky Trio, a chamber group long in residence at Roanoke College, brought in some top henchmen, including Charlottesville-based trumpeter/composer John D’earth.
This program had no stringed bass instrument — Kandinsky member Alan Weinstein’s dark, round cello tones notwithstanding. But it had plenty of bottom end, courtesy of Shodekeh, a Baltimore beat-boxer who can do more with his mouth than a lot of drummers can do with a full drum set, grooving in basic 4/4 or the occasional odd-time signature.
On Dan Cavanaugh’s “In the Silence,” the trio and trombonist Jay Crone generated ominous beauty. An ancient poem of a bittersweet dream, “Nu’m Came in a Dream,” flashed on an overhead screen.