Art Garfunkel Builds A Bridge To New Audience With Orchestra Show

February 6, 2004
Fort Worth, TX
Written by Malcolm Mayhew - Staff Writer

Art Garfunkel will be the first one to fess up to his habit:

He's a perfectionist.

After a phone interview, he calls back, leaving a long message:

"Malcolm, I'm a perfectionist. Your first question was, 'Tell me about the nature of the show,' so I looked at the set list after we hung up and I thought, 'Why don't I drop some teasers?' It helps the audience and it helps your article.

"So can you let the audience know, if you care to, that I will do Cecilia, and that's great fun; that I became a songwriter, and I'm gonna do my song, Perfect Moment," he said in the message. "And there's a song that's new for me called Texas Girl. That's relevant to Fort Worth. If you want to point an arrow to those things, that's great."

Such precision, such attention to every little detail, should surprise no one. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were not only the most successful music duo of the '60s but also one of the most meticulous. Their folk-rock songs were clean, lush and melodic, free of any fat.

Garfunkel has carried that tradition over into his current live shows, which he is performing with orchestras, as he'll do Friday at Bass Performance Hall with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. In a way, he says, it's a perfect match. "I feel like I'm the ideal artist for this," he says. "The songs profit from orchestration, because some of them were very orchestral to begin with."

Garfunkel, who has been performing with orchestras for about six years, says his show will be about 17 songs long. "Give or take a few," he says. You'll hear Simon and Garfunkel cults and classics, as well as Garfunkel's solo material; he'll also be accompanied by a four-piece rock band that'll feature Steely Dan keyboardist Ted Baker and Warren Bernhardt, a pianist who toured recently with Simon and Garfunkel.

That tour just wrapped up, and it fueled ongoing speculation that Simon and Garfunkel will record again. Garfunkel won't say yes. But he won't say no, either.

"The tour was somewhere between sensational and deeply satisfying," he says. "We gelled nicely. We left each other thinking we could work together again. We may be at the early stage of meshing. But I have a whole bunch of shows I'm committed to for the rest of the season, and he has a new album he's just begun. It's a very nice picture, and I'm kind of attached to that vision, but it doesn't seem like we're there yet."

For now, Garfunkel says, he wants to perfect his symphony shows; although he has spent the majority of his life onstage, he says there's still room for tweaking.

"You're always moving from freshman to sophomore. There's always a next thing to get good at," he says. "Right now, I'm trying to master stage performing. I want to be a very cool hour-and-a-half attraction. I want to do what I do better, to keep refining what I do. That's a personal devotion."