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The Orion

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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Sundays at Two series continues with ‘Hard-Boiled Music’

David Dvorin and others perform music inspired by detective novels of the early 1900s
Saxophonist Matt Langley performs. Taken by Toby Neal on March 10.

Chico State’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance continued their Sundays at Two series on Sunday with “Hard-Boiled Music,” a program of original compositions inspired by the hard-boiled fiction of the early to mid 1900s. 

Emmy-nominated composer, guitarist and Chico State lecturer, David Dvorin was joined by a group of talented musicians on the stage at Chico State’s Recital Hall.

The hall, which is adorned with beautiful natural wood paneling, was about half full of people who had braved the blustery Sunday afternoon to enjoy the group’s performance.

Left to right, Matt Langley, Randy McKean, Tim Bulkley and David Dvorin perform. Taken by Toby Neal on March 10.


The excellent adjustable acoustics of the venue let the jazz and blues-inspired music truly stand out. Each instrument was clearly audible as the musicians’ performances flowed effortlessly from freestyle to tightly synchronized melodies.

Composer David Dvorin performs music inspired by “hard-boiled” fiction of the early 1900s. Taken by Toby Neal on March 10.

While introducing the performance, Dvorin told the audience he had gotten into hard-boiled detective fiction novels during the pandemic. It was a new genre of literature to him, and while he really enjoyed the characters and plots, the jargon was particularly interesting to him. 

He said it inspired him to write music influenced by those scenes and characters he had been reading.

David Dvorin addresses the audience between songs. Taken by Toby Neal March 10.

After the opening song, Dvorin suggested the audience should not expect detective movie music that they may have seen in old films, but rather, to enjoy the original songs while picturing those types of characters. 

He introduced each of the songs by painting a picture of what inspired them, and with titles like “Benny the Fink” and “Flim Flam Man,” it was easy for the audience to visualize as the band played.

The song “Flim Flam Man” was described by Dvorin as, “the shady guy who’d offer to tell you your fortune on the boardwalk, or play three-card monte while his friends picked your pockets.”  

It opened with the bellowing rumble of the contra-alto clarinet, played by Randy McKeanThen Dvorin’s plodding guitar and Tim Bulkley’s drum playing joined in as Matt Langley’s saxophone part flitted from spot to spot, until they all rejoined in a melody. It wasn’t too far of a stretch for the audience to picture a band of shady characters on the prowl.

Randy McKean and Tim Bulkley perform original songs. Taken by Toby Neal on March 10.
Matt Langley and Randy McKean performing. Taken by Toby Neal on March 10.











The next Sundays at Two will be titled “Crossover” and held in the Recital Hall, ARTS 150, March 31 at 2 p.m. and is free to the public. It will feature Ayaho Nakamura on trumpet and will include several movements of “Toot Suite” by Claude Bolling, a French jazz pianist and composer, and other French classical-jazz crossover pieces.

Toby Neal can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Toby Neal, Reporter
Toby Neal is a public relations major, graduating in May. This is his first semester writing for The Orion. Neal is looking forward to bringing interesting and informative stories to the publication. He likes to keep his finger on the pulse of a gamut of things, from politics, to international topics, to hitting live music shows, to finding new places to eat and much in between. See you out there.

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