Posts filed under ‘Bay Area music’
Starting tomorrow in San Francisco, the week-long Outsound New Music Summit will convene for the 15th time. It’s a week-long series of shows celebrating creative music of many stripes, from jazz and new-classical to noise and prop.
The event runs July 24-30, at the Community Music Center (544 Capp Street @ 20th, San Francisco). Check out the full schedule here.
For a deeper look, you can explore the “In the Field” series of video interviews, posted by Outsound organizer Rent Romus. They’re extensive (usually 20+ minutes) and often explore how these musicians got turned on to creative music and out-there sounds.
Here’s my smattering of highlights — based primarily on how familiar I am with the musicians and concepts. Meaning, I’ve left lots of deserving artists behind; explore the full schedule for more info, with additional video and audio information.
Concert times are 8:15 p.m., except as noted.
Touch the Gear (Sun. July 24, 7:00-10:00 p.m.) — An Outsound tradition. It’s a hands-on exhibit of electronics and noisemakers (and sometimes some more “normal” musical instruments”), giving you an opportunity to find out where some of these unusual noises come from. It’s very informal and, well, noisy: You wander the tables, ask some questions — and push some buttons and make some noise yourself.
Sonny Simmons documentary (Mon. July 25, 7:00 p.m.) — A screening of Brandon Evans’ 2003 film, “Sonny Simmons: The Multiple Rated X Truth.” Simmons is a fascinating story, a forgotton hero of ’60s free-jazz who became re-remembered starting in the early ’00s.
Dan Plonsey: “On His Shoulders Stands No One” (Tues. July 26) — Expect Braxton-like expanse, but with a friendlier, warmer touch than Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music or Echo Echo Mirror House. Find out more in Plonsey’s video interview (embedded here).
Brett Carson’s Mysterious Descent (Tues. July 26) — A theater/poetry/music piece based on the extant texts of the Idnat Ikh-ôhintsôsh (i.e., a language of Carson’s own devising). Might be the most “out-there” concept on the docket. I’m not sure what to expect; I just got drawn in by Carson’s “In the Field” inteview.
Vinny Golia, Lisa Mezzacappa & Vijay Anderson (Wed. July 27) — Three musicians whose work I’ve enjoyed and admired. This should be a rewarding set of sax-bass-drums improvised jazz. Note that they’re also three-fourths of the band on the album Hell-Bent in the Pacific, which included the late Marco Eneidi on sax.
Oliver Lake & Donald Robinson (Thur. July 28) — Outsound goes above and beyond to support local artists, but the festival also usually includes notable names from out of town. Oliver Lake is a luminary known for the World Saxophone Quartet, Trio 3, and his extensive solo career. (See SF Weekly‘s preview.) Donald Robinson is a hero of the local scene, a drummer whose fluid, airy style has always impressed me. He’s also a veteran of the early ’70s free jazz scene in Paris, where his musical cohorts included Oliver Lake. Who knows whether they kept in touch or even knew each other well; in any event, this should be a special dialogue between kindred spirits.
There’s also a trio improv that combines Brandon Evans with local luminaries Christina Stanley (violin) and Mark Pino (drums); an avant-pop night promising shades of prog and electronic music; and an appearance from the long-running, unpredictable Big City Orchestra.
And plenty more. Seriously, explore the schedule. There’s a wide range of music in store.
The most recent live music show I’ve seen (not counting the theater experience) goes back to the beginning of May, when I headed to San Francisco’s Mission District for the first-Monday jazz program at the Make-Out Room.
This one was really different. Walking through the door, I was greeting by the wavering clang of a Chinese gong and the high-pitched caterwauls of traditional Asian song, but infused with the aggressive showmanship of rock or even punk. This was mashed up against an energetic, Afropop-influenced guitar-and-bass combo, all anchored by drummer Dave Mihaly.
I hadn’t encountered them before, but lead singer Luo Danna grew up in China as a singer, actress, and dancer, and she brings that theatricality to the forefont for this band. Their final song was fast-paced, with Danna adding a percussive exclamation point to the rhythm by snapping a fan closed dramtically. You do have to have a taste for the shrill vocals of traditional Chinese music, but the mix of those motifs with the freedom of jazz is something worth hearing.
The second set was by local stalwarts Grex, this time in basic trio format: Karl Evangelsta on guitar, Rei Scampvia Evangelista on keyboards, and Robert Lopez on drums.
Jazz and modern classical music are among Grex’s influences, but it was a heavy set this time, with lots of crunchy, aggressive guitar and a psychedelic feel. Among the new songs with Rei on vocals was “Martha,” relating to the last of the carrier pigeons.
A quartet called Two Aerials closed the program, combining out-there jazz singing (singer/cellist Crystal Pascucci) with a chamber-music vibe, a breezy sound from the combination of cello, vibraphone, and electric piano. Still, they put up some hard-driving numbers, really rocking out at times. Drummer Britt Ciampa kept the volume high with a lexicon of shuffles and taps, playd with subtlety and precision but loud and exciting.
I did not make it to the June installment of the Monday Make-Out, but I’d like to be more of a regular there. The bar setting isn’t conducive to every type of music, but this is the kind of setting jazz used to enjoy, after all, and you get a good dose of locals who wander in and seem to have a pretty good time.
I always considered radio DJ’ing to be a kind of performance. Certainly lesser than actually performing on a musical instrument, but it did require attention to rhythm, balance, and audience.
He’ll be guest-hosting “Discreet Music,” a Sunday late-night show of experimental music and modern classical, on KPFA-FM (94.1 for those in the Bay Area) June 5 and 19, both shows starting at 10:00 p.m. Pacific time.
Discreen Music is an excellent show that’s been hosted by Dean Suzuki for years. You can find previous playlists at kpfa.org. Here’s the most recent one, hosted by Suzuki. Steve Reich, Elliott Sharp, Harry Partch — it’s a pretty good representation of the show’s personality.
Statistically, most of you won’t find this post until after June 5 … but if nothing else, it might get Discreet Music and World of Wonder onto your radar.
No, KZSU doesn’t really hate your ears. The idea is to give them a workout, that’s all.
I took that screenshot from the Day of Noise webcast solely because it amused me. The duo is/are Vilarsia, performing near the end of the Day during the 11:00 p.m. shift.
And you can still hear them — not because your ears are ringing, but because KZSU has posted most of the Day of Noise performances at kzsu.stanford.edu/dayofnoise. Go get an earful!
This was the first time in a few years that I couldn’t lend a hand with Day of Noise (KZSU’s 14th time hosting this marathon), but of course Abra and crew pulled it off magnificently. Congrats, all.
… “Now,” meaning Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, Pacific time.
Every year, KZSU puts on 24 hours of mostly improvised, mostly noisy music — electronics, ambient, jazzy, sound-wall-ey, you name it. It’s a glorious tradition led by DJ Abra (aka Dr. Information).
From 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m., you’ll hear The Voice of Doom — a barrage of exotic instruments from the collection of Doom the KZSU DJ who started the Day of Noise tradition years ago.
From 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., bran(…)pos will be on. I know him for harsh, vocal-driven noise, but who knows — he could perform anything.
Improv-rock group Lost Planet performs from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
From 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., you’ll hear a couple of groups from the Bay Area improv scene, combining classical and jazz ideas with good old noise. Jacob Felix Heule, Aurora Josephson, and John McCowen perform first, followed by Tania Chen, Matt Ingalls, and Ken Ueno.
Day of Noise favorite Henry Plotnick, a teen prodigy who weaves hypnotic layers of keyboard minimalism, performs from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Computer-music pioneer Tim Perkis seizes the airwaves from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Rent Romus and Collette McCaslin of longstanding jazz outfit Lords of Outland play as part of a trio from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. They’re both very noisy people when they want to be; don’t expect “jazz.”
Vocalist Viv Corringham is in the Bay Area this week, joining up with a local band to perform a combination of improvisation, electronics, and Greek rembetika singing.
Rembetika, also spelled rebetika and technically the plural of rebetiko, is an early 20th-century Greek music with genes from the Baltic region and Eastern Europe. But it’s not music born of joy; like the blues, it’s the music of a downtrodden people (outcasts from Asia Minor) and the struggles they faced.
Drugs seem to be a prevailing theme in rembetika, which explains the name of Corringham’s mini-tour: “Life Is Clearer Seen Through Smoke.”
The line comes from a 2011 album, Rembetronika, that pairs Corringham’s singing with the side guitar of Mike Cooper, backed by electronics and joined in spots by legendary British improv players.
Rembetronika — available for free at archive.org — gives you a taste of what to expect from Corringham’s tour. Despite the electronica-sounding title, the album is rich with acoustic sounds of strings and voice, the electronics serving as shading to heighten the drama. (We’re talking laptop-style electronics, not electronic dance music, although a downtrodden dance beat does appear on at least one track.)
Corringham’s Bay Area consort will be an experience beyond that album. The band is all woodwinds — shakuhachi, recorder, and didgeridoo — plus electronics and piano. It’s also going to be a multimedia event, with on-the-spot “film and light abstractions” by Anna Geyer.
You’ve got two more chances to see them:
Tuesday, November 24, 8:00 p.m., Center for New Music (55 Taylor St., San Francisco)
Wednesday, November 25, 7:30 p.m., Canessa Gallery (708 Montgomery St., San Francisco)
Joe Lasqo (playing laptop and keyboards in the band) has blogged a more detailed explanation of the band, the music, and Ms. Corringham.
As for that “clearer through smoke” line — it comes from one of the few Rembetronika tracks sung in English, “White Powder.” And it’s a tough story: a plea for drugs so that the singer can find some escape from this hellish world. “Like is clearer seen through smoke,” Corringham sings, summarizing what seems to be the prevailing attitude in rembetika.
It’s not much different from blues songs about alcohol. It seems there’s something universal about misery and the human condition.
Against those lines, a gentle ramble of off-rhythm guitar drifts like a cloak of madness settling on the singer. Those kinds of unsettling moments are a highlight of Rembetronika. As another example, “Bournovalia” drenches Corringham’s voice in old-timey reverb, backed with a ghostly procession of electronic smudges and untuned chimes for an unsettling effect.
The acoustic sounds of guitar and voice remain at the forefront, though. Pairing a high-toned lilt (think the golden age of radio) with Cooper’s cowboy-style slide guitar — which isn’t the same as the traditional bouzouki but flavors the sound richly.
Those natural sounds take the foreground on the mournful “San Ton Exoristo,” backed by the crackle of faux vinyl and comet-tail slashes of background sound. “Smyrneiko Minore” adds Chris Abrahams’ tumbling, bluesy piano, some slashing guitar, and Corringham’s bright, clear voice singing a wavering, haunting melody. It’s very much the blues.
Cut-and-pasted from the official invitation, there’s news below about KZSU‘s next Day of Noise, happening on Saturday, January 30 at Stanford University.
They’ll be looking for musicians to fill all 24 hours of the day … and for listeners interested in tuning in, of course.
Day of Noise is a 24-hour, on-air celebration of sound in all its abstract glory. Live performances, mostly by local artists, will feature electronics, computers, acoustic instruments, mixing boards, effects — you name it, in sets that will range from relentless harshness to soothing ambience. You can listen to last year’s Day of Noise at archive.org.
Here’s the official missive:
KZSU is having a Day of Noise — 24 hours straight of live improvised experimental / noise music. We’re hosting the event in our studios on Saturday, January 30th 2016, 0000-1159.
This used to be an annual tradition at KZSU in the 90s. We’ve had a successful revival run the last couple of years and we’re going for the 14th annual event this year. Take a look at last year’s website and our archive of last year’s performances to get an idea.
If you’re interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with Day of Noise 2016 in the subject line, and give us an idea about the time of day you’re interested in, and whether you’d want a half hour or hour-long performance. Spots go fast, so don’t delay, and be flexible with your desired times. Lastly, please spread the word!