It’s been several years since violinist Ricardo Ochoa took to the stage and truly engaged with audiences. Ochoa made a name for himself performing with the Savannah Philharmonic and with his popular and in-demand gypsy jazz band Velvet Caravan, but with the caravan on indefinite hiatus, Ochoa formed a new outlet for his creativity.
Acoustic Office is an instrumental ensemble that “combines eclectic musical styles with thunderous virtuosity” and they make their Tybee Post Theater debut on Saturday.
“Now with this group, I feel like I have a purpose,” Ochoa said. “I take a bit more of an artistic license here personally. I have always worked well with others and the way Velvet Caravan has grown, it has grown organically. What’s happening now is that I have this desire to perform on stage again and interact with the audience, and bring musical ideas and concepts to the audience, but I want to do that from a different way.
Out of the desert:Black Hat brings their spaghetti western rock to El Rocko
Wonderful food with a jazz side:Good Times Jazz Bar and Restaurant unveils its 2023 line-up
Savannah music in 2022:Festivals are back, new artists not to be missed and venues are shining
Ochoa was very deliberate in filling the rest of the lineup in his acoustic office with talented, experienced, like-minded musicians. Acoustic Office features Israeli pianist Assaf Gleizner, who is an Off-Broadway composer and recently moved to Savannah from New York. Guitarist Travis Pullman moved from Boston to Savannah during the pandemic and is sharing his knowledge of gypsy and jazz guitar as a professor at Georgia Southern University. And bassist Marc Chesanow has played with many of Savannah’s top artists and bands, including The Eric Jones Trio.
“It turned out to be extremely creative and easy to use,” Ochoa said of Acoustic Office. “These guys are monsters on their own, musically, so it’s very enjoyable.”
The concept and name of Acoustic Office comes from Ochoa’s maturity and more professional approach to music. If Velvet Caravan conveyed the image of a trip around the world with Gypsies, Acoustic Office places its players in a workplace with a schedule (and coffee breaks).
“It’s more formal and minds can come together to produce a product,” Ochoa explained. “Also, it feels a bit more mature, but gives him enough room to take on the styles and create music. So from being the traveling musician on the trailer to being a more mature, office-setter musician I guess you can imagine what the next step would be I don’t know, maybe Geriatric Kitchen or something like that will be the next band?
For their Tybee Post Theater debut, Acoustic Office will be joined by 20-year-old guitarist Chris Jenkins, Jr.
“I’ve worked with him since he was 13,” Ochoa said. “He is very talented and has a brilliant career ahead of him. The concept of Acoustic Office is not limited to a particular group. It could be anything that would serve what we want to do with the music, so having [Jenkins] in there for some concept pieces will be perfect.
Following:Savannah Winds bandleader Mark Johnson leaves a treasured musical legacy with a local band
Ochoa sees this upcoming performance as a reflection of her career, with the first half of the show focusing on the gypsy jazz that has made Velvet Caravan so beloved.
“In the second half of the concert, I transition into what’s happening right now and in the future with the music I’m working on,” Ochoa said. “It’s a bit of a trip during the show. A portrait of my musical life in Savannah. And that’s a way for me to introduce the guys as Acoustic Office.
Ochoa struggles to describe what exactly the present and future of his music looks like. Ochoa is originally from Venezuela and incorporates elements from many cultures and styles into his music. “Describing music is very difficult – I hate labels,” Ochoa said. “We really travel through different cultures. We take styles, rhythms and effects that are in different cultures and see them from our point of view. We can’t help but have the American feeling in it. We have all lived here for at least several years and are Americans at heart, or in fact Americans.
“We really focus on what we like about the culture of other places and combine that with what we know. And we know a lot of different styles. We personalize those cultures.
Acoustic Office’s ability to reinvent covers and combine styles highlights their versatility as artists.
“Most importantly, it’s about understanding the cultures the song was created in, and then moving away from it through your personal perspective,” Ochoa said.
Savannah Music Festival Leaders:The 2023 festival allows us to “celebrate music and be together”
The Acoustic Office’s beginnings on Tybee Island have particularly resonated with Ochoa since he moved there seven years ago and became a member of the community. Since taking a break from music, Ochoa has become part owner of Sea Wolf Tybee, opened a bike rental shop and expanded his family with the birth of a new daughter.
“I’ve developed so many relationships with people in this town,” Ochoa said. “Actually, there’s a whole bunch of people who know me from different things, like the Sea Wolf and the bike shop with my wife, and socializing with people. They know me as a regular guy and not as a musician, and now that they find out after hanging around and having drinks for so many years that I actually had a career, and there’s another side to me that they don’t know know, it’s going to be fun because these people have no idea. They will see another face of me.
“There’s going to be a lot of ruckus in there, so I’m ready.”
IF YOU ARE GOING TO
What: Richardo Ochoa presents Acoustic Office
When: Saturday at 8 p.m.
Where: Tybee Post Theatre, 10 Van Horne Avenue, Tybee Island