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Live Review: Spoleto Festival USA 2013

An eclectic mix in Charleston

Gregory Porter, Spoleto USA, 2013

Since the first day of 90 degree weather for 2013 didn’t hit Charleston before the last note was played, this year’s Spoleto Festival USA may have literally been the coolest ever. Jackets were worn primarily for warmth rather than to make a fashion statement when Gregory Porter sang among the live oaks at Cistern Yard on the opening weekend. A week later, the mercury lingered over the 80 degree mark past sundown, but the laminated paper fans handed out with program booklets for the André Mehmari concert hardly came into play unless you needed it to swat a pesky insect.

Not to worry, in the absence of torrid Charleston temperatures, the lineup assembled by Spoleto jazz director Michael Grofsorean generated some serious heat. Finnish pianist Iiro Rantala made his Spoleto debut with six sets during a four-day stand at the Simons Center Recital Hall, where the duo of guitarist Alessandro Penezzi and clarinetist Alexandre Ribeiro took over a week later for a three-day run, playing five sets. Arguably the hottest of all was Israeli tenor man Eli Degibri, who played the Cistern after Porter’s two-night stint.

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