In June, Lisa Mezzacappa performed three concerts in Europe with different ensembles, showing off ORGANELLE, her latest concept for an improvising ensemble.
Mezzacappa has initiated so many interesting projects over the years. The electro-acoustic chamber ensemble Nightshade comes to mind, and more recently she adapted her Bait and Switch quartet for a concept called avant-NOIR.
Last year’s Glorious Ravage was an ambitious and successful project combining composition, history, narrative, and visual elements. Parts of it are preserved on the gloriousravage.com website, captured with professional photography and video.
Now there’s ORGANELLE, an improv concept that draws from the natural sciences and, in a physical sense, the universe. Here’s how she describes it on her news page:
ORGANELLE is a “set” of pieces inspired by diverse scientific processes – some enormous and unfathomable, others impossibly microscopic – that form a whole through the insights and explorations of fantastic improvisers. The composition draws its musical ideas from the different ways that the human body, the natural world, and the cosmos mark the passing of time. The rhythms, the musical relationships, the melodies, and structures in the work are each connected to a theory of cell biology, astrophysics, paleontology, zoology, or neuroscience, exploring these otherwise-imperceptible phenomena through sound.
Performances took place in Naples, Rome, and Cologne in June, and now Mezzacappa is going to perform ORGANELLE here in the Bay Area. There’s an open rehearsal on Sunday, Sept. 11 at the Berkeley Art Museum, followed by the full performance at the museum on Friday, Sept. 16 (a show that includes ’90s dub/funk stars Broun Fellinis).
Each performance has featured a different set of four or five local musicians alongside Mezzacappa. Here’s the lineup for the Berkeley Art Museum shows:
It’s a busy week for Mezzacappa, who’s also performing some solo compositions tonight (Sept. 10) as part of Philip Gelb’s music and food series. (In an intimate setting, a small audience is served a vegan gourmet meal during the show — it’s an intriguing concept.) She’s also appears with an improvising quartet on a newly released CD called Shipwreck 4, which sounds really good (more on that later).