This image is from the official website of Jeremy Kittel.

Words like “multitalented” and “versatile” are frequently used to describe musicians, but few are as truly deserving of such praise as fiddler Jeremy Kittel, who has demonstrated the full range of his musical ability in his two most recent Ann Arbor performances. Last spring, Kittel proved his capacity to compose sweeping symphonic music with his world premiere of “In the Dream” at the cavernous Hill Auditorium with the University of Michigan Symphony Band. It was a memorable and inspiring performance, but returning to Ann Arbor last Wednesday, Kittel showed another side of his supreme musicianship: leading his genre-bending band Kittel and Co. in a captivating and intimate performance at The Ark.

Despite being comprised of only four musicians — fiddler Jeremy Kittel, mandolinist Joshua Pinkham, guitarist Quinn Bachand and bassist Jacob Warren — Kittel and Co. cultivated a rich and unique full band sound while effortlessly drifting between musical styles throughout the night. On some songs, Kittel leaned into his baroque and classical influences and made use of quick arpeggios as his band supported him with frequent harmonic modulations, resulting in a texture that might be best described as bluegrass Bach. While Kittel wowed the audience with his otherworldly fiddle technique, he and the band also impressed with their ability to evoke complex imagery on songs like “Fields of Brooklyn” and “Chrysalis.” In both songs, Kittel’s fiddle solos perfectly blended into the band’s Irish-infused Americana sound, a sound enhanced by stellar solo moments from the band’s other instrumentalists.

Throughout the concert, Kittel demonstrated that his musical talent extends far beyond his fiddle playing. On one song — which he prefaced as his metalhead friend’s favorite Kittel and Co. song — Kittel alternated between playing fiddle and acoustic guitar, creating a vibrant new texture and allowing Bachand’s classical guitar solos to shine as Kittel strummed along with him. (In true metal fashion, the song ended violently, albeit unintentionally, as the shoulder strap of Kittel’s guitar failed, and the instrument fell to the ground just as the band reached the song’s final chord). Additionally, Kittel’s rare vocal moments in the concert were exceptional. On “Waltz,” Kittel’s soft and reserved vocal delivery stunningly contrasted his typical energetic fiddling and contributed to a delicate and beautiful performance perfectly suited for a venue like The Ark. Kittel’s vocals also impressed on two covers the band performed: Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On,” which also featured powerful vocal harmonies by Joshua Pinkham, and their encore performance of “The Man in Me” by Bob Dylan, which creatively reimagined the classic song and was a satisfying conclusion to a fantastic concert.

What stood out above everything during Kittel and Co.’s performance, however, was the band’s undeniable chemistry and passion for making music with each other. Even as they abruptly changed musical styles throughout the show, all the band members were fully synchronized with each other, stylistically and rhythmically. Sometimes Kittel would tap a tempo with his foot, and the other members would all look to him; other times, the band would fragment into two separate musical conversations, with Kittel and Pinkham looking at each other while Warren and Bachand did the same. No matter who the central focus was, musically or visually, the band was cohesive and established a sense of unity that was contagious to the audience. When the crowd clapped along to the band’s beat during a few of the concert’s high energy moments, there was a special connection between everybody in the hall that transcended Kittel’s tapping foot and the audience’s clapping hands.

Despite what their name might imply, Kittel and Co. are much more than a backdrop for Jeremy Kittel: Not only did each of the band’s members have several moments to shine, they contributed equally to a distinctive and engaging sound that defies conventional genre categorization. Bassist Jacob Warren deserves additional praise for the outstanding opening set he performed with violinist, guitarist and nyckelharpa player Grant Flick; it set the mood for a night of experimentation, virtuosity and overall great acoustic music. No matter which creative direction he heads in next, Jeremy Kittel has proven himself both a sincere steward of folk traditionalism and a brilliant musical innovator worthy of your attention: If and when he and his band return to Michigan, they are a must-see.

Daily Arts Writer Jack Moeser can be reached at