Posts filed under ‘upcoming shows’
(Eric Vloeimans plays at Duende in Oakland, Monday Oct. 13.)
When I first started exploring creative music, an unexpected find was the European classical/ folk/jazz mix that I think is often called Eurojazz. That’s how I came to know it, anyway — that blending of jazz composition and improvisation with the towering structures and oddball harmonies of modern classical music, all played with a Parisian sidewalk-cafe vibe. Sometimes there would even be an accordion in the band, just for good measure.
Pago Libre comes to mind as an example. A couple of their CDs were on the doorstep at KZSU shortly after I arrived, as I recall. Pachora, a Balkan-jazz quartet including Jim Black and Chris Speed, was another early find and an obvious link in the Downtown NYC chain I’d traced after discovering Tim Berne’s Bloodcount.
Stacked in there somewhere is Eric Vloeimans, a Dutch trumpeter with a light touch and a wistful nostalgia in his playing. It’s likely I crossed his path because he was playing at Yoshi’s; I remember being charmed by his 2004 album Boom-Petit but lost the thread after that.
Vloeimans kept churning out music, though, and his latest band is a trio — with cello and, yes, accordion — playing cinematic sketches in Oliver’s Cinema. The name happens to be an anagram for Vloeimans’ name, but the “cinema” part fits the gently emotive music. Many of the tracks seem to come from still, thoughtful moments rather than high drama, and they’re very visual. “L’Amour des Moules” is a chatty stroll down a verdant park path; “Fellini’s Waltz” is a rich ballet of fantastical elegance.
It’s not far from what I remember of Vloeimans’ earlier work: lyrical, charming songs with a pretty touch, showcasing his crystal trumpet tone in a restrained setting. As with European cinema itself, there’s a lingering mix of happiness and sadness here. “Papillon” is a bittersweet slow song that’s so achingly French, and you can picture it representing fond memories or lost dreams, or both.
I’m not cinephile enough to recognize the classic soundtrack pieces on this album — “Papillon,” “Cinema Paradiso,” and “Rosemary’s Baby” among them. But the album still speaks to me with its depth of atmosphere; it’s subtle and hovering, rather than soaring and loud, and the understated nature sets the tone for what would be an equally understated — and therefore very nice — movie.
The improv collective Grosse Abfahrt will be convening tonight — Saturday, Sept. 27 — in San Francisco at the Center for New Music. It’s a 7:48 p.m. show that will include out-of-town guest Birget Ulher on trumpet.
The general idea is that there’s a core group of GA players, Bay Area residents, who play occasionally and always bring outside guests into the fold, usually creating a largish ensemble of eight to 10.
You can read more about the group, and hear a sound sample, in this post from last year.
For this year’s show, I thought I’d ask Tom Djll, via email, something that’s been gnawing at me about this group — and about free improv in general, really — for a few years. Namely: If you’ve got a rotating cast of characters, how do you define a group “sound?” Or do you even bother; is it a matter of picking the people you know and trust?
Here’s what he said:
GA has not really kept its “core sound” over the years. It has definitely changed since 2004. It changes with every new iteration, really. You may hear the same language bits from the individuals over a long period of time — I certainly do — or you may not. I definitely told the players what I had in mind on the first few gatherings. There have been scores on at least two occasions, #1 and #10. I tend to think of the player mix as a big part of “the score.”
There have been at least two occasions where I felt the group sound was so far away from my conception of what it’s supposed to be that I hesitated to call it a “Grosse Abfahrt.” #2 was one of those, which was a live show done at CMC. I don’t remember the year. Sometimes all it takes is for one player to take over to tip the thing over into the zone Where Tom Is Unhappy With the Esthetic. That happened on #2, #5 and #13. #11 was too dense — too many players in a tiny space. Yet on each one of those occasions there were moments and passages of The Sublime. And that’s just my judgement, which is only worth exactly what any other person’s judgement is worth.
But, as you say, it is all very much “a matter of trust, knowing that [we] all know each other and have the same general concept in mind.” But just that would be boring. There has to be some disruption from time to time. That’s my specialty!
So, as you’d expect with free improv, there’s an element of unpredictability, and it’s up to the players to mold the piece as a whole into the right form.
Here’s the lineup for tonight’s show:
Birgit Ulher (trumpet)
John Shiurba (guitar)
Gino Robair (percussion/electronics)
Tim Perkis (electronics)
Kanoko Nishi (koto/piano)
Bill Hsu (video)
Jacob Felix Heule (percussion)
Tom Djll (trumpet/electronics)
Kyle Bruckmann (oboe/english horn)
We are witnessing the Late Classic Period of Edmund Welles: The Bass Clarinet Quartet, apparently. You can bear witness to the last days of this period on Sept. 12 when the quartet plays in a bass-clarinet-heavy concert at the Center for New Music in San Francisco.
The show includes the bass clarinet duo Sqwonk and a performance of a bass clarinet nonet by Jonathan Russell. If you don’t like the sound of the bass clarinet, this will not be the place to be.
As for Edmund Welles’ different eras, bandleader Cornelius Boots lays out the whole chronology on his blog. This wasn’t a decades-long master plan; it’s more that, with benefit of hindsight, he sees the phases of his musical development. He’s been nurturing the idea of a heavy bass-clarinet band since the late ’90s (the Inspirational Era), developing some songs as part of hard-rock band Magnesium. I got turned on to Edmund Welles during the band’s Early Classic Era, as the album Agrippa’s 3 Books came out, and what I’ve written on this blog has covered the Classic Era and beyond.
Boots’ other foci have included teaching — the Edmund Welles album Tooth and Claw now has a companion book that teaches you how to play the songs — and the shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute. He recently recorded a shakuhachi album, Mountain Hermit’s Secret Wisdom, in a cave, exploiting the acoustics to produce meditative pieces such as “Banshiki” — listenable on Bandcamp.
But he’s also playing metal on the shakuhachi, making clever use of athletic tongue-trilling and the instrument’s ability to bend notes. Here’s his cover of “Run to the Hills.”
The world had better damn well miss Fred Ho. Radical, revolutionary, bandleader, writer, philosophizer — he was a brash, larger-than-life character, the type who doesn’t come into jazz’s orbit much any more. He championed the baritone sax specifically for its loud, unyielding sound.
His fight with colorectal cancer, which ended early this year, drew generous platitudes from the media, not for the tragedy of the story but for his inspirational energy and determination. He released CDs and was awarded a Harvard Arts Medal, and he managed to get one final master work onto the stage.
The ROVA Saxophone Quartet commissioned a work from Ho, back when. “Beyond Columbus and Capitalism” appeared on The Works (Volume 2) in 1996, and they’ll be revisiting it for a concert Sunday afternoon at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
The piece plays like a big-band suite, with those same tight horn harmonies and some aggressive swinging rhythms. Like most of Ho’s work, it’s a fun ride — and it includes a burly, unaccompanied solo for the baritone sax, of course.
For more about Ho, check out his Big Red Media web site (which automatically launches a music player, so be forewarned); an early 2014 NPR interview; a detailed, pre-cancer, 2005 interview for Harvard Magazine, and his elegant obituary in The New York Times.
Here’s the info about the concert, cut-and-pasted from ROVA’s mailer.
STRUGGLE FOR A NEW WORLD: Fred Ho Memorial
Sunday, September 7, 2:00 – 4:30 PM
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
9th Street #290
The memorial will feature performance by many of the forward-thinking artists touched by Fred Ho‘s significant cultural contribution. Rova will perform Ho‘s 1992 composition, Beyond Columbus and Capitalism, a work commissioned by Rova through The Meet the Composer / Reader‘s Digest Commissioning Program.
Other performers include: Ben Barson, Royal Hartigan, Mark Izu, Jon Jang, Masaru Koga, Genny Lim, Hafez Modirzadeh, John Carlos Perea, Akira Tana, Marty Wehner, Francis Wong, Brenda Wong Aoki, with speaker/emcees: Diane Fujino and Matef Harmachis.
August 4, Sacramento, CA, 7:30pm at Luna’s Cafe (Nebraska Mondays, w/Luis Clifford Childers
August 6, Sacramento, CA, (Grex at 10pm), Live Broadcast on v103, at Marilyn’s on K (w/Devon Galley, Ken Koenig)
August 8, Seattle, WA, 8pm, at The Woodshed (w/Insistent Caterpillars, Honey Noble)
August 10, Seattle, WA, 7:30pm, at Cafe Racer (at Racer Sessions)
August 15, Long Beach, CA, 8pm, 4th Street Vine (w/Don’t Trip)
August 16, Los Angeles, CA, 8:30pm, at Curve Line Space (w/Dead Air Trio feat. Joe Berardi)
Monster Music, which came out in February, is a nifty package of pop/prog characterized by bubbly and dreamy electric piano, swinging chords, and regular doses of fiery guitar. Rei Scampavia and Karl Evangelista, the wife/husband team who both contribute vocals, augment the Grex duo with other instruments, but this time, drummer Robert Lopez is a fixture on every track, which somehow makes the songs feel more, well, songlike.
I think of Grex as a prog band, but really it crumples musical styles into one multicolored mix, willfully dropping jazz melody, experimental improv, or rock attitude. A track like “Romancing Stone” reminds me a lot of Pierre Moerlen’s Gong with that pleasant, floating keyboard sound, although here it gets augmented with the more tangly, grumpy free improv that’s also a Grex ingredient. “Christmas Song” is a quirkier brand of prog, with a stringy melody spelled out on warbly keys and/or guitar to introduce Scampavia’s smooth, airy vocal.
Rock elements show up on “Hurdles,” a swirling, jamming piece that pairs fuzzed-out guitar and weighty electric piano, and on the psych jam “Guinea,” with its towering piano-chord theme.
This is the kind of album that’s easy to digest but has a lot going on under the surface, making for multiple rewarding listens. It probably makes for a good show, too, so if you’re on the west coast, don’t sleep on this one.
You can download Monster Music on Bandcamp.
Now in their third year of monthly song releases, the Rabbit Rabbit duo of Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi are building up quite a catalog. Their second album of songs, Swallow Me Whole, is due out on July 8, and they’ll be coming to the Bay Area with a show at the Freight & Salvage on Thursday, July 10, augmented by Myles Boisen on guitar and George Ban-Weiss on bass.
The songs on come from the Rabbit Rabbit Radio web site, a kind of online multimedia magazine that showcases a new song each month, with an accompanying video, photographs from the couple’s life adventures (including their ever-growing children), and some user-generated input.
And the songs are something else, drawing from pop and Americana but also laced with the edgy experimentalism that’s defined much of Kihlstedt and Bossi’s careers. The styles range from delicate piano ballads to raw-nerve rock. They’ve been getting some deserved notice, too; “After the Storm,” from Year 1 of Rabbit Rabbit Radio, won in the “eclectic” category at this year’s Independent Music Awards.
You can sample the Rabbit Rabbit catalogue on YouTube. They haven’t yet posted this month’s knockout punch (“Nameless,” featuring Shahzad Izmaily on guitar) but here’s a video for “Falling Awake,” with guitarist Joel Hamilton, issued a few months ago.
Rabbit Rabbit is trying out a couple of new ideas. For this year’s songs, they’ve been working with a guitarist each month, and Kihlstedt has set aside her trademark violin, which helped make her name in groups like Tin Hat and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.
Here’s something even more different: In lieu of being a CD, Rabbit Rabbit, Volume 2 — Swallow Me Whole is being sold as a limited-edition poster featuring all the lyrics and credits, and a download code for the songs themselves.
It’s an interesting idea. I’ve been thinking that people buy CDs at shows more as souvenirs than anything else. Even in a digital age, it’s nice to walk away carrying something — so, why not a poster instead of a CD?
Rupa, of local world-music faves Rupa & The April Fishes, will be opening the Freight & Salvage show. The full Rabbit Rabbit itinerary looks like this:
- Thur. July 10 — Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
- Sat. July 12 — The Mint, Los Angeles
- Thur. July 31 — Union Hall, Brooklyn.
If you want to donate to the Outsound New Music Summit, you might want to do it before Sunday night.
I assume they’d take your contribution no matter what the date. But Sunday night is the deadline to contribute via Indiegogo and, for $100 or more, get a ticket to the dinner held each year for organizers and donors. Held at Berkeley Arts Festival, the dinner will include a set of music by percussionist William Winant and another set by Thea Farhadian (violin) and Amy X. Neuburg (vocals, loops, maybe electronics).
No, I don’t know what’s on the menu. But I do know it’s all for a good cause, a locally produced festival for creative music. Rent Romus has kept the fire burning going on 13 years now.
Here’s the lineup:
July 27- August 2, 2014, Co-Presented with KFJC 89.7FM Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street San Francisco, CA Advance Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets The Bay Area’s New Sound Festival Features Underground and Experimental Jazz, Electronics, Noise Art, Spoken Word, Poetry, Workshops, and Hands-onInteractive “Touch the Gear” Expo. Sunday July 27th 1:00 PM Pianist, composer, and educator Thollem McDonas will lead a collaboration/improvisation workshop for musicians and non- musicians alike. Monday, July 28th 8:00 PM Thollem McDonas and participants from the Sunday improvisation workshop will perform a set of structured and free improvi- sation. This event is free to the public. Wednesday, July 30th Q&A Sessions 7:30 pm, Performance 8:15 pm PoetryFreqs, a night of spoken word and poetry with electro- acoustic music. * Pitta of the Mind (Maw Shein Win – poetry and Amanda Chaudhary – electronics) * Original jazz beat poet Ruth Weiss with electronic pioneer Doug Lynner – Buchla Synth, Hal Davis - hollow log * Watkins/Trammel/McZeal (Zachary James Watkins - electronics, Marshall Trammell – drums with award winning poet Amber McZeal) Thursday, July 31st Q&A Sessions 7:30 pm, Performance 8:15 pm Guitars, a night showcasing seven talented and provocative guitarists Henry Kaiser; Amy Reed & Ross Hammond; Noah Phillips & John Finkbeiner; Sandy Ewen & Jakob Pek Friday, August 1st Q&A Sessions 7:30 pm, Performance 8:15 pm Constructions will bring two extremes together * Teddy Rankin-Parker/Daniel Pearce Duo, premiering new works by renowned composer Renee Baker * The Deconstruction Orchestra, a mass ensemble of 25 leading Bay Area improvising musicians led by tenor saxophonist and composer Joshua Allen, who will perform the debut of The Structure of Sound and Space, an original deconstructivist- inspired suite of cell structure game compositions, melding together post-modern, free jazz and non-idiomatic improvisa- tion. Saxophones: Aaron Bennett-as, Sam Flores-ts, John Ingle-bs, Matt Ingalls-as/c, Josh Marshall-ts, Dan Plonsey-bs, Dave Slusser-ts, Rory Snyder-as, Rent Romus-as, Cory Wright-bs Brass: Peter Bonos-trpt, Collete McCaslin-coronet, Matt Gaspar-Flugel, Ron Heglin-tuba, Jeff Hobbs-trpt, George Moore-trpt, Matt Streich-trombone Rhythm: Henry Kaiser-guitar, John Finkbeiner-guitar Timothy Orr-drums, William Winant-drums, Lisa Mezzacappa-bass, Matt Montgomery-bass Saturday, August 2nd 1:00pm Transformational Voice, an afternoon vocal workshop with bodywork/energywork master Jill Burton. Register at the door or Pre-Register @ Brownpaper Tickets Saturday, August 2 Q&A Sessions 7:30 pm, Performance 8:15 pm Improvisations, featuring three different groups of improvisers exploring the language of the unknown. * Obstreperous Doves (Karl Evangelista – guitar, Bill Noertker - bass, Nava Dunkelman - percussion, Christina Stanley - violin, and Jordan Glenn - drums) * The Emergency String (X)tet (violins: Mia Bella D'Augelli, Jeff Hobbs, Christina Stanley; lap steel guitar: David Michalak; cello: Doug Carroll; bass koto: Kanoko Nishi-Smith; and cello/director: Bob Marsh); who will premiere a new work in celebration of Bob Marsh’s 70th birthday * Jill Burton Trio (Jill Burton - voice, Tim Perkis - electronics, and Doug Carroll - cello) debuting their first-time collaboration
… and here’s what I wrote about last year’s Summit:
- Outsound: The Axiom
- Outsound: Vibration Hackers
- Bringing “Lords of Outland” to Outsound
- Outsound Summit: When the Machines Take Over
- Kyle Bruckmann Brings Pynchon to Outsound
- Outsound 2013