Posts filed under ‘upcoming shows’

Rabbit Rabbit, Back Visiting in Berkeley

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 12.00.59 AMNow 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:

July 4, 2014 at 12:17 am 2 comments

Outsound Festival: One Weekend Left to Contribute

Source: Outsound; click to go thereIf 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.

The Outsound Summit runs July 29 through August 2 at San Francisco’s Community Music Center.

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:

June 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm Leave a comment

Maxine Gets an Album

Maxine concert: Thursday, June 26, 2014Maxine, the artificial-intelligence musician that’s been has reached a milestone: her debut CD.

Ritwik Banerji has been developing (I think he would prefer to say “raising”) Maxine for several years now, posting the results on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. They’re mostly duets between Maxine and Banerji’s own saxophone playing, the idea being that Maxine learns and progresses as she plays more.

The Maxine/Banerji duet is now called Maxine and the Astromusicologist, and their album is Palmer Square, on Jeff Kaiser’s pfMentum record label.

To celebrate, Maxine and a gathering of local friends will perform Thursday, June 26, at the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) in Berkeley. It starts at 5:00 p.m. with an art installation featuring Maxine and some graphical computer programs called Maxineans. (Banerji has posted two representatives to Vimeo: Antoine and Bart.) Visitors are encouraged to bring an instrument and interact with Maxine and her friends.

A concert will follow, with Kaiser playing an opening set, followed by Maxine performing in varying improvising ensembles.

I first came across Maxine in the context of a concert with Maxxareddu, a similar artificial intelligence developed by Joe Lasqo. Here’s more about that:

June 26, 2014 at 8:20 am Leave a comment

Human Feel and the Magic of Discovery

Human Feel: Rosenwinkel, D'Angelo, Black, SpeedSeeing that Human Feel has tour dates here in the Bay Area makes me nostalgic –  not just for the band, but for the bygone era they represent to me.

Thursday, June 26, the band is playing at Yoshi’s Oakland, and Monday, June 30, they’ll be at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz — their only Bay Area appearances that I’m aware of since about 1997. They’re touring in advance of a new album, coming out in June.

Which is awesome news. All four members — Andrew D’Angelo, Jim Black, Chris Speed, and Kurt Rosenwinkel — have careers of their own, so it takes an alignment of planets to get Human Feel back in the studio, let alone on the road.

But here’s what’s really on my mind.

Tim Berne’s Bloodcount is the band that got me into the whole avant-jazz thing in the first place, an interest that eventually fueled the radio show that eventually fueled this blog.

Human Feel 2014 tour poster, from FacebookThat was around 1997, and I was in New York, visiting the Knitting Factory (which still supported avant-jazz big-time, for a few final, glorious years). I’d gotten to see Tim Berne play, and I’d picked up a free music magazine called M3 or something like that. In the back were CD reviews, including one for Human Feel’s second album, Speak to It.

That’s how I found out that Black and Speed, both from Bloodcount, had been in another band. I wanted to hear that band.

Understand this: The Internet in 1997 was not what it is today. You didn’t just look up a band’s web site — web sites literally hadn’t existed five years earlier — and digitizing music, let alone downloading it, was barely even a dream for most of us.

No — back then, you had to rely on magazines and real word-of-mouth. The blind faith of mail-order was always an option, but it was more exciting to stalk the record-store bins, bypassing the big names (Pat Metheny, Gary Burton) to go straight for the alphabetical dividers, where the more obscure “M” and “B” artists — or the ones the store’s clerks hadn’t heard of — were hiding.

At the time, I didn’t know any New York records stores other than Tower, and I didn’t have time to shop anyway. So the next time I was in Berkeley, I sped over to Amoeba Records and scanned the “H” bin, with little hope.

Human Feel: Welcome to MalpestaBut there it was. A CD that, weeks ago, I would have bypassed: Human Feel’s Welcome to Malpesta. It had that same Steve Byram-looking cover that Tim Berne’s albums did, chaotic and scribbled, promising a mind-bending experience.

Listening to the album was a joy. Andrew D’Angelo’s “Sich Reped” opens it — a catchy, maddening 7/4 theme like a nursery rhyme gone bad (“Three Blind Mice” in a blender, I think a friend called it), hitting all the crazy angles my ears were hoping for. It’s followed by Chris Speed’s “Iceaquay,” the kind of drifting, improv-heavy piece I was just starting to appreciate.

That’s what it used to be like to find music. The hard work of panning for gold, and the sweet victory of discovery.

Today, I scan the bins, and the delight has faded. Some of that has to do with volunteering at KZSU, where I got exposed to a lot of new releases, but mostly it’s the Internet. I don’t get to hear every Clean Feed or Firehouse 12 release that comes out — but I do know that it’s come out. Little surprises are harder and harder to find.

That’s why Human Feel, in addition to being a good band, has a special place in my heart. They were one of my few great New York finds before the Internet brought New York to my doorstep. Don’t get me wrong; I love being able to follow musicians on the Internet, keeping up with their recordings and their careers. But, as old people will always say to young people, it’s not the same.


See also:

 

June 25, 2014 at 12:17 am Leave a comment

Fred Frith’s Gravity, Re-Revisited

Fred Frith's Gravity: A Cosmological Constant Revisited

Source: Dominique Leone’s blog; click to go there.

When Fred Frith re-created the album Gravity for a live show in August 2012, the hope was to take the act on the road by putting up the same band at festivals.

The band did get to play a couple of shows in New York, and now they’ve taking to the festival stage as well, having appeared at the Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville (FIMAV) in Quebec in May. They’re included in Avant Music News’ review of FIMAV Day 4.

The Gravity Band will also be performing twice in Europe: June 7 in the city of Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and June 8 at the Moers Festival in Germany.

Fred Frith's GravityIf you want to find out more about the process of (and reasons for) building a concert around the Gravity album, you can listen to the 2012 radio special I put together for KZSU. I’ve stored it here, in downloadable form. It includes interviews with Frith and with Bay Area musicians Aaron Novik and Dominique Leone, whose bands combined to form the 11-piece Gravity Band, and it all came out quite niftily, if I may say so.

I also reviewed that 2012 show, which was great fun.

June 3, 2014 at 12:57 am Leave a comment

A Big Sound from Klaxon Mutant Allstars

Klaxon Mutant Allstars performs Thursday, May 22, at Duende.

Klaxon Mutant AllstarsRobot Invasion (self-released, 2014)

Robot Invasion. Source: Bandcamp; click to go there.A former pickup band that, frankly, I thought I’d never see again, the Klaxon Mutant Allstars have not only stuck together but have also produced an album — a slice of enjoyable modern jazz with clean horn lines, pop sensibility, and layered writing that sends the five-piece group in unexpected directions of syncopation.

There’s definitely a “new musical terrain between jazz, electronica, pop, and indie rock,” as the Klaxons’ web site proclaims. It’s a quasi-genre I loosely called “indie jazz” in the early ’00s. I had aggressive bands like the DIY trio, Birth, in mind, but others have emerged with a stronger nod to the jazz tradition, and with electronica more deeply embedded in their psyches. Kneebody occupies this space.

So do the Klaxons, now, with Henry Hung’s trumpet and Kasey Knudsen’s sax up front, putting up the jazz lines that might have been transported from a ’60s combo but presenting music that those audiences would consider alien. On a track line “Klaxon Tom Bomb,” the “jazz” gets put behind a heavy, infectious pulsing. It’s aggressive and fun.

“Desaparecere” starts out with a grooving, relaxing bass solo from George Ban-Weiss, gracefully backed with Colin Hogan’s electric piano. But later, Knudsen ignites the band into a fiery groove fueled by twisting, growling sax solo.

This kind of idea-mixing is all over the album. The almost too-smiley funk of “Riled Up” makes you tap your toes, but it gives way to a stretch of free improvisation against a skipping beat that all the players ignore. “Dear 70% (We Are Being Ruled by the 15%),” which features a deceptively simple, poppy theme that builds into some nice syncopation and, eventually, another searing Knudsen solo.

There’s one near-straightahead track, “Taxi Driver Blues,” that’s heavy with swing and funk, replete with walking bass and very — I don’t know the term, but Eric Garland sticks to conventionally jazzy drumming. It’s plain jazz, in a sense, but it’s fun.

I’m happy to see that Robot Invasion includes the Klaxons’ most memorable song, “Jamie Moyer,” an initially pretty tune that — like its namesake baseball pitcher — messes with your mind by changing speeds. Stretched here to a glorious 12 minutes, the song was a highlight (for me, anyway) of their appearance at the SF Offside Festival back in 2012; here, it becomes a showcase for Garland as the band “trades fours” between normal speed and way-too-slow speed.

You can find the album at Bandcamp and CD Baby, among other places.

May 20, 2014 at 10:51 pm Leave a comment

Aram Shelton Convenes the Octet

Aram SheltonOctet (self-released, 2014)

Aram Shelton: Octet. Source: Bandcamp; click to go thereIn 2002, jazzman Aram Shelton wrote “Octet,” a straight chamber piece for four horns, two cellos, and two basses. It’s a departure from his usual work with bands such as Ton Trio II.

He’ll be performing with a Bay Area version of the octet on Friday, May 16, at Le Qui Vive (1525 Webster St., Oakland), a show starting at 9:00 p.m. You can preview the music by listening to “Octet” and a companion piece, “Spring Time,” on Bandcamp. (You can also buy them there; just $5 for a 43-minute digital album.)

“Octet” is framed in minimalist tones, patient and bright. It builds on small, repeated motifs that gradually shift during the course of about 27 minutes. The steady cadence gets a break about midway, when it shifts into slower, looser playing — then it picks up the thread again, bouncing and bobbing its way along.

Minimalist pieces are meant to be a bit hypnotic (that’s always been my impression, anyway) and part of the magic is in zooming in on the details. In this case, you’ve got eight players to provide plenty of counterpoint, like lots of side conversations adding up to a whole. I’m reminded of a ROVA piece where many players were spread around a large room, and the audience was invited to sit in the middle. “Octet” would sound really good that way, with small sounds patiently prodding at you from all directions.

“Summer Time” carries a similar mood but eases up on the strict rhythm. The horns, in particular, play breathy jazz motifs that might even be improvised (or composed but with a more casual sense of rhythm applied). It’s an airy 17-minute piece that breezes past more quickly than you realize.

I’d recommend checking out the Octet at Le Qui Vive. It’s not an act that seems likely to be repeated much in the future. (And the opening act, featuring longtime jazzman Idris Ackamoor of The Pyramids, should be a treat, too.)

And if you’re more inclined to check out Shelton’s jazz work, Ton Trio II is playing at Duende (Oakland) on the following Friday, May 23.

May 15, 2014 at 9:09 pm Leave a comment

Grex: Typhoon Relief Concert (and New CD)

MonsterMusicReleasesmallGrex is playing a CD-release concert tonight (Feb. 15) that doubles as a typhoon relief concert.

It’s a Berkeley Arts (2133 University Ave, Berkeley). There’s no cover, and all proceeds, including album sales, will go to the Philippines for Typhoon Haiyan relief. It’s a nice chance to experience some new music and donate to a good cause.

The bill includes:

  • Grex, the free jazz/chamber rock trio of Karl Evangelista (guitar), Rei Scampavia (piano), and Robert Lopez (drums)
  • Michael Coleman’s Enjoyer, a quartet (or more) led by keyboardist Coleman
  • Jordan Glenn Chamber Ensemble, debuting a new long-form piece composed by Glenn

The new Grex album, titled Monster Music, features the new trio format (the band has been Evangelista and Scampavia, joined sporadically by friends) and should be available on Bandcamp soon.

February 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

Aram Shelton’s Art of the (Next) Trio

Aram Shelton‘s Ton Trio II plays Sat. Feb. 1, at Duende (Oakland), with the Cory Wright Outfit.

Ton Trio IIOn and On (Singlespeed, 2014)

Source: Singlespeed Music; click to go thereThis is the second version of Aram Shelton‘s sax/bass/drums unit, exploring Shelton’s compositions with a healthy respect for the jazz tradition and an appetite for the freedom of direction offered by free jazz.

Shelton founded Ton Trio shortly after coming to the Bay Area from Chicago. The second edition, with new rhythm section Scott Brown on bass and Alex Vittum on drums, was created late in 2012 and built itself into shape through regular gigs at The Layover for the first part of last year. Now they’ve put out their first album, on Shelton’s Singlespeed label.

The trio is very much a jazz exercise, presenting melodic heads followed by some robust jazz improvising. In tracks like “Turncoats,” there’s a touch of Ayler-style marching, something I thought I’d heard in the first Ton Trio album, The Way.

“Freshly Pressed” is one of the faster tracks (and the longest, at eight minutes), with Shelton digging hard in to post-bebop soloing but also adding small touches of swing or traditional melody. This is a track where Shelton goes particularly far outside the lines, egged on by Vittum, who also turns in a snappy drum solo.

I think my favorite track is the speedy “Orange Poppies,” which opens with a theme that harkens back to maybe early ’60s jazz, followed by a terrific, rolling jam where Shelton savors one cascading run of notes after another.

I’m writing this one up a bit late — the band’s show at Duende starts in just a few hours — but hopefully the band will get plenty of other chances to perform live and continue pushing this music forward.

February 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm Leave a comment

How Much Brötzmann Can You Take?

Saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are coming to the Bay Area, and you can’t stop them. But you can go see them:

Brotzmann & Nilssen-Love. Photo by Ziga Koritnik.

Brotzmann & Nilssen-Love. Photo by Ziga Koritnik. Lifted from the Center for New Music.

Each venue promises a cozy, intimate setting for getting your eardrums blasted out. Brötzmann can certainly play quietly and sensitively, but it’s the biggest sounds that are his signature. This is a guy who told The Wire his overexpansive playing has expanded his lungs to the point of damage. Raise your hand if you didn’t realize that was even possible.

The condition doesn’t affect Brötzmann’s playing, however. So, as late as 2011 at the Musique Actuelle Festival in Victoriaville, he was able to do things like this:

Trio Roma (Victo, 2012).That’s Brötzmann and Nilssen-Love in trio with Massimo Pupillo playing an electric bass set on “kill.” They’ve obviously decided they’ll all amp it up, so to speak, to match Pupillo’s “11″ setting. They do have pauses and quiet patches, but it’s a mostly sweaty and sprinting workout that makes up one of the two CDs in Solo + Trio Roma (Victo, 2012). It qualifies as a Sound of 4 experience.

That excerpt comes from only about 1 minute into a 70-minute track, by the way.

Regarding those quiet patches, here’s a segment where Pupillo sits out, and Brötzmann gets to display some delicate gruffness.

Concentric (Clean Feed, 2006)How about Nilssen-Love, who’s less familiar to most listeners? Here he is with a different saxophonist: John Butcher, whose aesthetic often tends toward the introspective — airy sounds and high-tone, slow-motion squeals. Concentric (Clean Feed, 2006) is a much different setting from Trio Roma, with Nilssen-Love going for a more sculpted sound even during the busier segments.

Sticks and Stones (Sofa, 2001)Nilssen-Love also has a solo album where he favors subtlety over bombast. Sticks & Stones (Sofa, 2001) isn’t exactly quiet — maybe “close-miked” is a better term? He solos on a rich array of percussion, making small noises that are amplified straight into your ear, as if you’re in a warm, small room with your head hovering right above the drums. He’s chosen his drums and implements so that the taps and bounces produce rich, almost liquid sounds, and you can savor every nuance, like sips of wine.

Sticks & Stones admittedly gets a little repetitious, but any one of the fairly short tracks is a treat, packed with delicious sounds and fast, rattling drumstick work.

Of course, these two gentlemen will spontaneously decide which colors to flash at these upcoming concerts. I would guess you’ll hear a little bit of all of it. Just come prepared for some big sounds.

(Each album-cover image links to eMusic, where you can sample more of the music. There is no commercial arrangement here; eMusic has no idea that I do this.)

November 9, 2013 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

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